By any name, Ron Artest should be embarrassed by his reckless move to elbow opponent James Harden of Oklahoma City.
But the NBA should be ashamed of the punishment it meted out to Artest, who changed his name last year to Metta World Peace, of all things. Artest, who helped provoke the worst riot in NBA history when he played for the Indiana Pacers, got a seven-game suspension.
It should have been at least 10 games. I'd have suspended him from the entire post-season playoff season. The NBA should succeed where the NHL has clearly failed: Clean up the sport and send a strong message to people like Peace, that violence will not be tolerated.
Instead, the NBA equivocated, meandered, took the easy way out.
Maybe NBA Commissioner David Stern was making it up to the Lakers, after putting the kibosh on a pre-season trade that would have enabled the already-powerful Lakers to acquire the highly respected point guard, Chris Paul, from New Orleans.
Stern prevented the deal from taking place, citing what he thought would be some sort of a competitive imbalance in the league. The deal was stopped, and the Lakers' chances of regaining the NBA title were severely limited.
Stern is the most admired commissioner of his generation in pro sports. The NBA has prospered wildly in his long tenure, since the 1980s. But, for what it is worth, I lost a lot of my regard for him. He allowed a player like Peace to make a mockery of any sort of sportsmanship.
Plus, what if Harden, a key player for the Thunder, actually had suffered a serious injury in the elbowing and could no longer play this season. The Thunder's chances winning the NBA title would be diminished strongly — and the Lakers would suddenly have a better shot, too, all because of one cheap hit.
The whole thing stinks. But the biggest stench emanates from the NBA office for not taking tougher action against Peace.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column. (Friedman is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which Penguin will publish in August.) Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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