“Obviously, all of those things are considered, and in fact if it had been somebody who got tangled up and threw an errant elbow, would that have been different than this? You bet it would have been,” Stern said Wednesday in a pre-playoff conference call with the media.
“It’s really very serious stuff and it does take into account the fact that the perpetrator is who he is and has the record that he has and this called for, in our view, a very stiff penalty. And we think that seven games, which only includes one regular-season game, is such a stiff penalty.”
World Peace has been suspended 10 times since 2003. Most notably, he was suspended for 73 regular-season games and 13 playoff games after the infamous Palace Brawl at Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2004, when he was with the Indiana Pacers and known as Ron Artest.
Stern said he didn’t know if World Peace intentionally elbowed Oklahoma City’s James Harden in the face during Sunday’s game, but he called the act “reckless and dangerous.”
“I believe that it was recklessly thrown and I believe that in looking at the replays again and again, he should have known that James [Harden] was up against him,” Stern said.
“And some would argue that he had to have known, but I can’t be in his mind in that moment,” Stern said.
The incident resulted in a concussion for Harden.
Stern described, somewhat, the process for determining World Peace’s suspension.
“I can tell you that it’s some combination of art and science,” Stern said. “We look at previous penalties. We look at who’s involved in the altercation. We do take into account the seriousness of the injury and a variety of whatever else is in the atmosphere and then it just becomes my job to decide what it should be.”
But why seven games?
“In light of all of the considerations and in light of past suspensions and fitting it in someplace, seven seemed to be about the right number,” Stern said. “And with full knowledge that if seven is OK, then six or eight probably could’ve been justified the same way, and it’s my job to say: seven.
“I think the seven [-game suspension] was larger than some people might have thought from just an elbow,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I have to close the door and say: OK, what’s justice here and what’s fairness here? And I came up with seven.”
Was Stern concerned that World Peace might return to action before Harden?
“I can’t really say that I focused on it exactly that way,” Stern said. “We have reason to believe that James will be available for the playoffs and we hope he will be. And we’re very thankful that his injury is not more serious than it was. That was the extent of the consideration.”
Stern also confirmed that the fact that the playoffs are beginning soon helped him determine the length of the suspension.
“We knew that seven [games] at this time of year was even more severe than it would have been during the regular season, that only one game was going to be lost in the regular season and basically he would be out for most if not all of the first round,” Stern said.