The Los Angeles Lakers will begin the 2012 playoffs without starting forward Metta World Peace, who was suspended seven games without pay by the NBA for his latest act of aggression on an opposing player.
Metta, formerly known as Ron Artest, was served with the multi-game suspension after throwing a vicious elbow at Oklahoma City’s James Harden during the second quarter of the Lakers’ 114-106 double-overtime victory on Sunday.
After being hit, Harden fell to the floor and remained there for several minutes before leaving the floor. World Peace was given a flagrant foul-2 and ejected soon after the play.
Harden, who did not return to play, complained of a headache and did not play last night against the Sacramento Kings.
“The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement released last night by the league. “We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”
Watch World Peace’s elbow on James Harden below:
In addition to missing the Lakers’ next seven games, MWP will lose nearly $348,000 in salary if he serves the entire suspension this year. If the Lakers — currently 41-24 for the season and in position for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference — exit the playoffs swiftly, the remainder of the suspension must be served next season.
Following the incident, World Peace apologized to Harden and the Thunder explaining that the elbow was unintentional and that he was caught up in the emotion of dunking on Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
“I hope James Harden is ok,” the 38-year-old said in a statement. “I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization. I look forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers and the Lakers’ fans.”