Rodman, Oakley, Laimbeer, Artest, NBA players you do not mess with. This is common knowledge to NBA fans and especially to the players. The elbow from Metta World Peace to the head of James Harden was brutal to say the least but blame can not be fully placed on Artest. Although he has a history of on and off court altercations he's been a model citizen since joining the Lakers three years ago. No longer resulting in controversy on the court he still approaches every game with the fierceness and intensity that makes him one of the best defenders of all time. Unfortunately in this case his dark past is coming back to haunt him.
"Chippy" is a good word to describe the Oklahoma City Thunder. Players like Kendrick Perkins, James Harden, and Russel Westbrook continuously use subtly abrasive tactics to gain a psychological competitive edge on their opponents. Rightfully so, the game is eighty percent mental so any advantage gained in that regard is priceless. Trash talking, holding, fouling, even something as minuscule as momentarily impeding someone's progress can be used to agitate an opponent. A late season game against a conference rival like the Los Angeles
Lakers is like adding fuel to this inferno.
After twenty two minutes of incident free basketball, following a thunderous tomahawk dunk and trademark "chest-beating" celebration Metta World Peace hit James Harden with an unintentional elbow to the head. The replay clearly shows his progress down court is purposely being impeded by Harden in an attempt to interrupt his celebration. If you watch closely you can also see Artest never makes eye contact with Harden and is blindly swinging his arm to free himself and continue down court. I'm not condoning throwing elbows, but when you purposely antagonize someone especially someone with a no nonsense personality like Ron Artest you must be prepared for the consequences. The adrenaline rush following the dunk and enthusiastic celebration are the reason for the force in which he swung. The elbow wasn't given with intent to injure, he was merely attempting to create space.
Had the elbow connected six inches lower to the shoulder rather than the head it wouldn't have even been called a personal foul. However, it did connect to the head resulting in a concussion, so the flagrant-two and seven game suspensions are warranted. What isn't warranted is the ridiculous backlash against Artest on social networks and in the media. Suggesting that he should be suspended for an entire season or kicked out of the league is utterly ridiculous. This was a mistake. Basketball is an extremely physical and emotional sport. Altercations will happen and people will get hurt, its inevitable! The attempts to ostracize the man who's been such an ambassador for mental health awareness are just ignorant and mean spirited. He was removed from the game, he's been suspended, now leave him be. Stop allowing your Laker-hate to cloud your better judgment.