The Gift and The Curse of Ron Artest…No Peace
Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, is about to get the hammer dropped on him NBA commissioner David Stern. There have been predictions all over the internet since his knockout elbow on James Harden and the consensus seems to be multiple games, as high as eight to ten. This would definitely make life difficult for them in the playoffs.
They need the minutes he gives them at the small forward position, and can’t afford to have to send Matt Barnes out there for 30 to 40 minutes against Kevin Durant in the second round of the playoffs if things hold up as they currently appear. Now don’t get me wrong; that elbow was terrible and Peace should get some kind of suspension for it. Accidental or not, that was above and beyond the level of contact that is allowed out there. Similar actions by other players have almost always resulted in a suspension of some kind.
But here’s the problem: the suspension dished out to other players, even those in the more closely called games of the past few years, have been for much less than eight to ten games. Kevin Love got two games for stomping a guy’s face. Guys from Kobe Bryant to Trevor Ariza have gotten one or two games for similar actions to Peace’s Saturday folly.
Andrew Bynum literally knocked JJ Barea from the sky during last year’s playoffs and got four games. So why is there a call for such a long timeout? Reputation, that’s why. As soon as the replays of Peace’s elbow started running, announcers Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy started referencing Malice at the Palace, the infamous Pistons-Pacers brawl from almost eight years ago (which ESPN could or did not include in a montage of ‘Metta Moments’ they ran last night). As if anything he does is an attempt to start a brawl. Breen was sounding as if he’d witnessed a mask-and-gun armed robbery in broad daylight, channeling his inner Jim Ross to describe an elbow during a basketball game.
The boss of BSO pointed out on Twitter earlier that Kobe Bryant has over twice as many techs as Peace in a just three more seasons played, and that Dwight Howard has more technical fouls in five fewer seasons. A lot of Peace’s reputation is wildly overblown. But the gruesome visuals from the Palace brawl (which was largely set off by the opposing team and their fans), and some colorful comments by Peace throughout his career (not to mention changing his name from Ron Artest) have given the media and many fans a license to put Peace in a Mike Tyson-esque category, and demonize him twice as much when he’s actually been better behaved than many of the league’s so called good guys (Okay, Kobe’s not one of the ‘nice guys’ but he gets that MJ super competitive pass that lets him get away with some major jerkish acts). And if the league hits him the way people expect them to, it will be for a act that was very wrong, but no worse than many others have done with less of a penalty. Reputation matters, and that very well be the deciding factor here.