The NBA has leveled its punishment for the elbow Metta World Peace delivered to James Harden on Sunday and it’s a 7 game suspension. This ruling will keep him out of Thursday’s regular season finale against the Kings and will then go into the post-season for the next 6 games – should the Lakers be fortunate to play that many. (N0te that I say “fortunate” not because of any lack of confidence in the team, but rather the playoffs are a minefield and one’s never sure how they’ll play out.)
I’m not sure how I feel about the length of punishment. And while I’m sure many will have opinions on that, I really don’t. Ron earned his suspension by connecting on a blow to the head of another player with an elbow. He made a dangerous play; a play that didn’t involve the ball; a blow that wasn’t delivered within the context of any game action. For that he should be punished and now he has been. At this point it’s time for him, and the team, to move on.
There are still games to play. Depending on what happens over the next couple of days, Thursday’s game may still have seeding implications for the team. The Lakers magic number is one and with a Clippers’ loss or a Laker win vs the Kings, the Pacific Division crown is won and the 3rd seed locked up. After that, the playoffs will be here and the Lakers must try to win a series without their best wing defender; a series in which he wouldn’t be eligible to return until a deciding game 7. So, again, there’s work to do and in the short term Ron is not a part of that work. This is the reality of the situation.
Also, a couple of more words on the incident. Over the past couple of days my main concern has been with James Harden. Head injuries should never be taken lightly and if you’ve ever suffered a concussion you’ll know that even “mild” ones can lead to long lasting symptoms that can be difficult to cope with. We don’t yet know how head injuries translate to a person’s health long term and for that reason I’m hopeful that James is not only okay today, but okay tomorrow, okay next week, okay next month.
I also have concerns for Ron. He’s taken a blow in the media almost as severe to the one he delivered. Of course he was in the wrong. But, by all accounts, Ron is someone that’s made real strides in recent years, is someone that’s well liked by his teammates and has been described more often than not in recent years as a caring person with a good heart. To see him take a beating in the media with incidents from his past put on display as an indictment of the man that he is today is a bit difficult for me as someone that has wanted the best for him; as someone that still gives him the benefit of the doubt. So, in that respect, I hope that he too can heal. He’s certainly not going through the same thing that Harden is going through, but he’s going through something too. (Again, self inflicted, I know.)