Not to beat a dead horse, but because I live in OKC this has invaded the airwaves of local sports shows and I feel the need to voice my opinion because…well…I’m opinionated.
Rather than focus on the act of aggression, I want to talk about what the appropriate actions are for Artest’s (sorry he dropped that whole ‘World Peace’ mess when he dropped that elbow like Randy Savage in his heyday). No matter what he says the blow was intentional. How many NBA players have been so in the heat of the moment, they strike the nearest player out of shear happiness? Just because he didn’t look at Harden in the beard doesn’t mean his intent was any less vicious. It was the nature of the act as well as where Harden was hit that makes this a very serious issue.
David Stern has to look at the big picture of things when trying to hand down the appropriate punishment for many reasons:
- The NHL just threw a 25 game suspension at Raffi Torres for this hit on Marion Hossa. Let’s not forget that hockey is a full contact sport that encourages fights, granted as long as they keep it clean, and they still threw the book at him. Stern cannot let a sport where floppers are rewarded more often than not overlook this kind of act.
- Going back to hockey, two words…Todd Bertuzzi. If Artest had connected to Harden’s temple or closer to his spinal column, he could’ve ended his career.
- Malice.At.The.Palace. The NBA suffered a worse black eye that day than that fat guy Artest decked in the Pistons jersey.
- Bounty Programs. Roger Goodell showed no mercy for malicious acts in his league. Stern should take after big bro and do the same.
- As firm of a believer as I am in second chances…Artest has been suspended 13 times and missed over 100 games because of it. You can’t argue with those numbers.
- This falls into the category of Bynum’s elbow on Barea and Kermit Washington decking Rudy Tomjonavich (okay maybe not the exact same category as the PUNCH, but it’s in the same ballpark). Nevertheless many people thought Bynum got off lightly with only a 4 game suspension after last years meltdown, don’t expect them to go light this time.
I will say the fact that they are rumored to be awaiting Harden’s health is ridiculous. You don’t judge an act by the result, you look at the act itself. The scariest thing is that Artest didn’t see or care who it was that was fronting him. To make matters worse, he continued to celebrate and run down the court, eventually making up some crazy scenario in his head which he then fed to the official.
I strongly believe Artest should miss at least 5 games up to the Laker’s first round of the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets into the double digits and rightfully so. The NBA should pride itself in the artistry of the game. Since the Malice in the Palace, it has come a long way in retaining a solid audience again and kept them wanting more. This is just the kind of thing that can make the NBA take a huge step back. Artest needs to realize that a fit of joy cannot result in giving a fellow player a concussion. It was not only a sad day as a Thunder fan, but as an NBA fan as well.