10.) We all tried to forget about Ron Artest’s reputation. The man who won the NBA’s sportsmanship award in 2011 had certainly worked hard enough to try to get us to forget. Hell, he even changed his name, maybe tricking some of us into thinking he was a completely different person altogether. But after Sunday night, no one is going to forget Metta World Peace was once, and still is to a degree, Ron Artest.
9.) By elbowing James Harden square in the back of the head, Word Peace committed one of the most violent plays in the history of the sport…again. And the fact that he is a repeat offender should absolutely be taken into consideration when the NBA levies a suspension.
8.) I have heard some compare this play to “The Punch” that occurred on December 9, 1977 when LA Laker Kermit Washington punched Houston Rocket Rudy Tomjanovich in the face. I can’t go that far; this play was not nearly as malicious as that one. However, World Peace’s actions simply cannot be compared to basketball-related fouls, like the one committed by Andrew Bynum in last year’s playoffs. I cannot think of a violent, non-basketball play like this one in recent memory.
7.) The Lakers knew they were taking a chance by bringing in Metta World Peace as a free agent in July of 2009. The team should be recognized for looking beyond his reputation and seeing that in recent years, the man formerly known as Ron Artest had actually been behaving. However, inherent with that signing was the risk that Artest would revert back to his old ways. As much as you and I would love to mock World Peace for his often offensively challenged skills, the fact remains that he is indeed an incredibly important player for the Lakers. I would not be surprised to see the team knocked out in the first round, in no little part thanks to a suspension to World Peace. As unfortunate as it may be, franchises that keep knuckleheads like World Peace employed are going to pay the price.
6.) World Peace made a completely non-basketball move when he threw his elbow into Harden’s head. It wasn’t even part of his celebration. Instead, it was a player getting too caught up in the moment and, for some reason I cannot even begin to explain, unleashing his energy in an incredibly violent way.
5.) Metta World Peace’s attack on Harden seems pretty unprecedented, but in all honesty we have come close to this before. The only difference is in the past, players haven’t connected on their swings at each other. Obviously, the force with which World Peace hit Harden combined with his history make this a big story, but Shaq’s swing at Brad Miller could have potentially been worse.
4.) Throw in the fact that the NBA has seen one of its most marketable players, Blake Griffin, targeted in thug-like ways throughout the season and you know the NBA is going to come down hard.
3.) One of the most feared enforcers in the league, Kendrick Perkins, was far away from the fight that broke out on the floor. For that we should all be thankful.
2.) The NBA is loathe to be unconventional. So you can throw out any idea of World Peace being suspended indefinitely, only to be reinstated when the Lakers are eliminated from the playoffs. Same for JA Adande’s (very good) idea of suspending World Peace as long as Harden is out, plus two games.
1.) So if this play isn’t as bad as Washington’s, but worse than Bynum’s, how many games should World Peace be out for? Washington was suspended for 60 days (26 games) and Bynum was ruled out for 5 games. Considering Harden’s health, the action itself, and the player’s history, I think that World Peace should be suspended for 15 games. However, throwing in the fact that he is going to miss playoff games, which to me, and anyone who has ever watched an NBA game, carry more weight than regular season games, the suspension should be reduced to 10 games. This way, World Peace would miss the Laker’s final game of the regular season, the first round of the playoffs, and beyond. It sounds a tad extreme on its face, but World Peace cannot be allowed to get away with such a heinous act. The NBA cannot allow players to be assaulted on the court with little penalty. 10 games, which includes several in the playoffs, would send a clear message to the players and teams alike that this will absolutely not be allowed.
The story of the Phoenix Suns is seen by many as a charming success. A team that was expected to go nowhere has rallied around its leader and is making an improbable run at the playoffs. Yet, however exciting a first-round exit in the playoffs may be to the Suns’ adoring fans, this season has been, from an objective standpoint, an absolute failure.
Let me be clear: the Suns have overachieved all year long. But with one of the least talented and most ill-prepared rosters in the league, Phoenix has set itself up to remain mediocre for years to come.
In the modern NBA, one of the best ways to get good is to be really bad. Look at a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder who built from the ground up. They acquired high picks and stockpiled talent by making good selections in the draft year after year. Another option for building teams is to establish a solid core of players, while preserving cap flexibility, and attract a big time free agent. I can think of a team in South Florida that has had a little success with this former route.
The Suns, on the other hand, have failed to choose either path. Instead, they have lost key players to free agency for several years and signed below-average players to above-average contracts, all while continuing to be competitive in the West, eliminating any chance at a high draft pick.
Rather than setting themselves up for the future, the Suns have found themselves stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. They have little resources to improve and have a roster with low potential and a high average age (the Suns are the fifth oldest team in the league with an average age of 28.82).
The offseason before the 2010-2011 season was the beginning of the end for the Suns. During that summer, Amare Stoudemire left for the New York Knicks. The Suns then responded by giving unreasonable contracts to Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress, and Channing Frye, not to mention the trade for Hedo Turkoglu and his fat contract.
That summer set them up for little financial flexibility in the future. For example, hypothetically, if the Suns were to re-sign Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Shannon Brown, and Sebastian Telfair, keeping alive the fantasy that they can have success with this group, they will be right around the salary cap. They will have little to no room to sign free agents and a mediocre draft pick.
If they had given up this fantasy already, they could be building for the future instead of treading water in the present.
In fact, by committing to Steve Nash, one of the best point guards in the league, during that offseason and beyond, the team has committed to being average. Surely, by holding onto Nash this season they have kept up ticket sales in the short term. But over the long term, the team has sacrificed its future. If the Suns had been able to deal the 38-year-old, not only would they inherit potential young talent, draft picks, and financial flexibility, but their own draft stock would have soared.
The fact of the matter is that a team whose best players are Nash, Marcin Gortat, and Grant Hill is going nowhere fast unless they can add some talent to that mix. However, without high draft picks or room under the salary cap, the Suns have no means through which to improve.
The Suns’ fans better enjoy the fight for the 8th seed out West; that’s all they’ll be getting from their team if management stays the course.