With one game left in the NBA season, the Lakers’ Ron Artest clocked the Thunder’s James Hardin with a vicious elbow, causing a concussion. While Artest claimed it was an accidental elbow thrown in celebration, it was fairly clear from the replay that it was anything but. Artest continued running down the court as if he didn’t notice that he had just catapulted his elbow into another man’s temple. Directly after the blow, some Thunder players made their displeasure known to the refs and to Artest. In true Artest fashion, Ron got down in a fighting stance and put his dukes up, urging Serge Ibaka to engage in a fist fight. After this incident, it’s impossible to take Artest’s new surname of “World Peace” serious, so I’ll be referring to him as his given name of Artest–the name where he earned his notorious reputation.
Although the elbow was vicious, it was the square off with Ibaka that seals the deal for me. That shows he clearly had no remorse and was back to the angry and out of control player that we’ve come to know during the past decade. His twitter explanation was laughable.
In determining the punishment for Artest’s elbow, NBA officials and management will review a number of criteria, including the following factors that relate specifically to contact made with an elbow:
Severity of Contact – The contact was about as severe as it gets. Harden went down like Frazier and didn’t get up for a while.
Legitimate Basketball Play – No basketball reason for the elbow. He wasn’t clearing a rebound or attempting to create space from a defender. He claims he was “celebrating.” If that’s the case, remind me not to attend his next birthday party.
Legal Positioning – Although his positioning was legal, it’s clear that he knew Harden was near as Harden had a hand on Artest before the elbow.
Intent or Reckless Swing – At the least, extremely reckless. More than likely it was intentionally thrown, if not even committed with an intent to harm.
Thrown Elbow – Check.
Result of Contact – Concussion, possible missing of several games due to the NBA’s new stringent concussion tests.
In addition, the NBA will take a look at Artest’s previous conduct. And no, they won’t just look at what he’s done after he changed his name to World Peace. Here’s a quick rundown (well, as quick as 12 previous suspensions can be) of the extensive rap sheet Artest is walking around with:
- Feb. 21, 2001: (Bulls) One game suspension for his role in an in-game altercation with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Glenn Robinson
- Jan. 4, 2003: (Pacers) Three games for throwing a TV monitor and a cameraman’s camera onto the floor following a game against the Knicks.
- Jan. 29, 2003: (Pacers) Four games for confronting and making physical contact with Heat coach Pat Riley, taunting the Miami bench, committing a flagrant II on Caron Butler by pushing him into the stands, and making an obscene gesture toward fans.
- March 9, 2003: (Pacers) One game for exceeding the maximum allowable flagrant fouls in a season.
- March 13, 2003: (Pacers) One game for again exceeding the maximum allowable flagrant fouls in a season.
- March 20, 2003: (Pacers) Two more games for again exceeding the maximum allowable flagrant fouls in a season.
- March 19, 2004: (Pacers) One game for hitting the Portland Trail Blazers’ Derek Anderson in the head with a forearm.
- April 19, 2004: (Pacers) One game for leaving the immediate vicinity of his team’s bench during an altercation.
- Nov. 21, 2004: (Pacers) Seventy-three games for the most infamous brawl in NBA history against the Detroit Pistons. Notably, after getting into an altercation with Ben Wallace, he ran up into the stands and chased a fan down, then attempted to punch him in the face. A FAN. (Note: in addition, Artest was suspended for thirteen games during the team’s playoff run.)
- April 24, 2006: (Kings) One game for giving San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili a forearm shiver to the head.
- July 14, 2007: (Kings) Seven games after being arrested for a domestic violence charge against his wife and pleading “no contest.”
- May 5, 2011: (Lakers) One game for tackling the Dallas Mavericks’ J.J. Barea during a playoff game.
After the math is all done, that’s 12 previous suspensions for a grand total of 96 games. NINETY-SIX friggin’ games. That’s not even including the thirteen he was suspended for during the 2004-05 playoffs, which would bring his total to 109. That means, in less than a 13-season career, Ron Artest has been suspended for almost 10% of his eligible games. Based a replay of the hit, the squaring off with Ibaka, and his previous record, I have a feeling we won’t be seeing Ron Ron for a long time. Sorry Laker fans, I think it’s clear that David Stern will realize that anything less than ten games would be unacceptable.
Update: Artest was suspended for seven games, which will cost him $348,000 in lost salary. Although this is less than the ten games I thought fit, seven games is still a strict sentence. Plus, without Artest who has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games, the Lakers season may be effectively over anyway. For those of you keeping score at home, the seven-game suspension brings Artest’s career total to 116 games.
By: Todd Davis