Metta World Peace's violent past has resurfaced. In the final minutes of the first half of Sunday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers forward was ejected after committing a vicious foul. World Peace celebrated a dunk by throwing his elbow with jarring force at Oklahoma City forward James Harden's head, leveling him and taking him out of play indefinitely with a concussion. (Watch the video below.) World Peace, who changed his name from Ron Artest in 2011, apologized for what he called the "unintentional elbow." Still, he has a history of violent behavior, including 13 suspensions throughout his career. Most infamously, in 2004, Artest, then a member of the Indiana Pacers, was involved in a fight between his team and the Detroit Pistons; when a spectator tossed a cup at him, Artest lept into the stands and began punching two fans. The Lakers have one game left before the playoffs, and the NBA has yet to decide what World Peace's punishment will be. How should he be penalized?
World Peace deserves a major suspension: If World Peace isn't suspended indefinitely, a harsh 10-game suspension is the only other option, says Jemele Hill at ESPN. If it was any other player, that would be too severe. But World Peace's turbulent past must factor into this decision. The foul on Sunday reveals what his "true on-court character" is. He's a repeat offender, and, despite his strides to repair his reputation in recent years, there's no guarantee that he won't revert to this kind of behavior again.
"Metta World Peace has history"
Let's not get carried away: It's not fair to argue that World Peace should be banned for the playoffs solely based on his past, says Matt Moore at CBS Sports. He deserves the same consideration as any other player. But determining the punishment won't be easy: If it's "too light, you run the risk of not making the point," and if it's too severe, you're undermining "justice in a thirst for blood of the guilty." A five-game suspension would be "just about right."
"Metta World Peace can't control himself, so the NBA must"
All athletes need to be held more accountable: World Peace's outburst is just one example in "the developing epidemic of violence in sports," says Jess Coleman at The Huffington Post. A normal citizen would be prosecuted for such an assault, but athletes merely get wrist slaps. And the problem is trickling down in disturbing ways, with adolescent athletes beginning to display tendencies toward violence in youth leagues. "It's about time people realize it is not OK to elbow your opponent in the head or punch a fan in the face."
"World Peace's war"
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