Tuck: Metta World Peace Suspension

The 2010-11 NBA Citizenship Award winner: Ron Artest.  Now, Metta World Peace finds himself in the headlines again, and his name is just the ironic punchline.  Pun not intended.

Slow motion is the best and worst thing to happen to sports.  We get to evaluate things on a level that creates new and different opinions and makes those that must pass judgement on them in real speed put under the microscope themselves.  The NBA has a tough spotlight on them now.  What to do as far as punishment is concerned?

A poll on USAToday.com 57% of the nearly 12k voting believed that World Peace should be suspended for the remainder of the season and the rest of the playoffs.  Another 24% had it at 5-10 or 10 games.  Clearly there is a strong reaction to either the play, player, or both.

When it comes to flagrant fouls and the resulting suspensions, Stu Jackson and league officials play particular attention to two aspects of the play: windup and follow-through.  Metta World Peace is guilty on both counts it would appear.

Kobe Bryant got 2 games for elbowing Mike Miller in the throat during a game in 2005.

Trevor Ariza got one game in 2009 for swinging an elbow in frustration at Torono’s DeMar DeRozan.  That was not a basketball play, but Ariza barely made contact.

Kevin Love got two games for stepping on the head of the Rockets’ Luis Scola as Scola lay prone under the basket after a play in February. So now we’re getting somewhere:  An unnecessary blow to the head that was not part of a basketball play earned Love a two-game suspension. Had Ariza made contact, he would’ve gotten two games, too, one would think anyway.  History tends to show that to be the case.

According to this unofficial compilation of NBA fines and suspensions dating back to the 1994-95 season, elbow violations have been repeatedly subject to one-game and/or two-game suspensions.

Andrew Bynum got 5 games to start this season after his mid-air attack on JJ Barea in last year’s playoffs.  That was a non-basketball play, but also a big-guy hitting a little guy with the appearance being most severe.  Crazy that Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard get hammered just as hard, but absorb the blows better with their bigger bodies, and most of the time you can’t get a flagrant foul called on the play.

Suspensions that last 10 games or more have generally been for punches thrown at players.  Or fans in the stands.  Or choking a coach.  Or bringing guns into the locker room.

My guess is the NBA will allow a couple of days for the story to cool down.  The Lakers don’t play again until Thursday, and then the postseason begins.  They’ll make a decision in line with ones they’ve made in the past, and it’ll be met with some resistance, but not as much on Wednesday as on Monday.  I think they’ll come down with at least 2 games, but no more than 5.