The Norman Transcript

April 24, 2012

Elbow to James Harden's head causes hysteria around NBA

League has seen much worse

Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Thunder started playing basketball in Oklahoma City in 2008.  After Sunday’s altercation between the Lakers Metta World Peace (AKA Ron Artest) and the Thunder’s James harden, it seems as if fans in Oklahoma didn’t start watching the NBA until then.

During the L.A.s double-overtime victory, World Peace’s elbow connected with Harden’s face. As of right now, that is the only true fact that can’t be disputed.

However, depending on which fan base you belong to, whether the incident was by accident or intentional is up for debate. And the vast majority of Oklahoma City fans are of the belief that World peace meant to knock Harden’s head off his shoulder’s with a vicious UFC style elbow.

I understand that thinking. Even though I lean toward believing World Peace when he says it was an accident, I get that Thunder fans are upset and want to see the often maligned and troubled star hung up by his finger nails while Oklahoma red ants are let loose on his body.

“I got real excited and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow.” World Peace said.

Yet, what I am having a hard time making sense of is the reaction of so-called basketball authorities that nothing like this has ever happened before in the NBA. World Peace’s elbow is not only being deemed a purely evil act, but many keep comparing it to the Malice at the Palace which Artest was also part of eight years ago. That was an all-out brawl involving angry players and drunk fans. This was an elbow that connected wrong.

But there are those who want to say World Peace has reverted back to his ‘thug” days. During the game, ABC broadcaster Mike Breen made it sound like World Peace had beaten up a couple of elderly women for their social security checks.  

What seems to be escaping the new-found NBA fans and the high-horse critics is that the league’s history is full of violent acts as bad as what was witnessed Sunday on national TV.

A few examples include Kermit Washington punching opposing player Rudy Tomjanovich during an on-court fight in 1977. Tomjanovich had to have several surgeries and his playing career ended soon after.

In 1984 during the NBA Finals Lakers forward Kurt Rambis was clotheslined to the ground by Boston’s Kevin McHale while attempting a break away lay-up. All that was called was a foul and the game went on. No fines, no suspensions, no calls for McHale to be banned from league forever.

The New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls got into a bench-clearing brawl during a 1994 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals at Chicago Stadium that ended up in the stands right in front of NBA commissioner David Stern. All that happened was Jo Jo English English and Derek Harper were given one and two-game suspensions, respectively.

Even in this shortened season alone we’ve seen Blake Griffin tackled while going in for a dunk by Kevin Smith and Kevin Love stomped on an opposing player’s face. Smith and Love each got only a couple of game suspensions and no one seemed to have a problem with the sentence. Neither Love or Smith have been called bad for basketball.

However, if World Peace gets anything less than an entire postseason ban, many will call it a travesty of justice. They are the ones who have forgotten the NBA’s past and that it has survived it all.