OKLAHOMA CITY, April 23, 2012—In September of 2011, Ron Artest legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. On Sunday, World Peace and the Los Angeles Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder where in the second quarter World Peace was ejected for throwing an elbow in the back of the Thunder’s James Harden’s head. Metta World Peace is over. He is now Ron Artest again.
Artest has had a multitude of problems with suspensions and problems during his career in the NBA. To say that something is wrong with Artest would not do him justice. This is the guy who applied for a job at Circuit City to get a discount, has come to practice in a bath robe and has admitted to drinking cognac at halftime.
After winning the NBA Championship in 2010 he thanked his psychiatrist. There are many people that need therapy or have mental health disorders, so the fact that he publicly talked about having a psychiatrist isn’t a bad thing, but it tells us there is a problem.
He has been suspended for fighting with other players, destroying television equipment, getting in the face of opposing coach Pat Riley and asking for games off to promote his rap album.
And then of course there is the brawl. The infamous time where Artest went into the stands in Detroit and attacked a fan that he thought had thrown beer on him. He was suspended for the remainder of the season.
In the excellent oral history that appeared on www.grantland.com about the brawl, Artest was quoted as saying to teammate Stephen Jackson, who had gone into the stands with him, “Jack, you think we going to get in trouble?”
Will going into the stands at an NBA game to attack fans get you in trouble? That’s the problem: he just doesn’t get it. By all accounts, Artest is a nice guy. It sounds crazy, but people who know him swear by it. He has done a lot for charity, he raffled off his championship ring raising over $500,000 for mental health awareness. But something happens between what his mind thinks and what his actions are that don’t connect.
Artest claims that what he did to Harden was unintentional.
Artest tweeted after the game, “I just watched the replay again….. Oooo.. My celebration of the dunk really was too much… Didn’t even see James ….. Omg… Looks bad.”
But watching the tape, there is no doubt that he was trying to do something. Harden now has a concussion with no timetable on his return, while Artest awaits the ruling from the League on his punishment.
Artest could have killed him. Yes, that’s dramatic, but he could have. The Bobcats Eduardo Najera recently had his skull caved in from an elbow. A 6’7”, 260 pound man hitting you on the base of your skull with his elbow could do major damage.
So what’s it going to take? Artest has run the gamut of things to get suspended for. Having a mental health issue and getting help for it is commendable, but what price does somebody have to pay before it’s too late?
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