Lakers forward Metta World Peace has been suspended for seven games by the NBA for swinging an elbow that connected with the head of Oklahoma City guard James Harden in last Sunday’s game.
World Peace will miss the Lakers’ regular-season finale Thursday at Sacramento and their first six playoff games, the NBA announced Tuesday. He will also forfeit $347,849 in salary. If the Lakers are eliminated from the playoffs in under six games, World Peace will sit the remaining part of his suspension at the start of next season.
It marks the 10th time since 2003 that World Peace has been suspended by the league.
World Peace was ejected from the Lakers’ 114-106 double-overtime victory when he aggressively thumped his chest after dunking and then threw an out-of-control left elbow at Harden, who was unable to continue in the game because of what was later determined to be a concussion.
In the chaos immediately after the incident, World Peace struck a pose almost like a boxer as Kevin Durant and teammate Serge Ibaka angrily approached him near midcourt. Referees had to step between them.
And now the NBA has added to World Peace’s problems, and those of the Lakers.
L.A. could be further short-handed at small forward because Matt Barnes sustained a sprained ankle in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. He had treatment on the ankle Tuesday but he will not travel with the team and will miss Thursday’s regular-season finale.
“The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement about World Peace’s suspension. “We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”
And Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak after the suspension issued a statement:
“Metta has for the most part been a model citizen both on and off the court since joining the Lakers. Still, his most recent lapse in judgment is not to be condoned or accepted. His actions could have seriously injured another player, and his absence during this suspension will hurt our team as well. While we accept the league’s decision, we will be supportive of Metta and try to help him be more professional on the court.”