In today's matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers' Metta World Peace lost his cool yet again. After going in for a dunk, Peace celebrated his play and backed into James Harden. Peace then clocked Harden with a hard left elbow to the face that sent Harden sprawling and sent Peace back to the locker room.
There is no doubt that a suspension is looming, and it is certainly deserved. However, the tragic part of all of this is that Peace has still not shed his reputation from his previous legal name, Ron Artest.
That player was the league's biggest hot-head, who famously ruined the Indiana Pacers season back in 2006 by initiating the "Malice In the Palace" and leaving a black mark on the NBA's image for years.
As a life-long Pacers fan who used to live in Indianapolis, I can't tell you how terrible and inhumane that moment was. It was embarrasing, disgusting and completely uncalled for in this league. It shamed that franchise for years, and it is only now recovering from the result of that brawl.
That team, led by Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson and Artest, was a contender for the Eastern Conference title. But because of a stupid brawl, Artest ruined that season and blew up the team.
Now fast forward to 2012. After changing his name to the ironic Metta World Peace, Artest refuses to learn a lesson and still gives in to his old ways. Beyond the fact that it was yet another disgusting play, Artest also hurt the Lakers' playoff chances in the process.
Depending on the length of his suspension, he could be the difference between a series win and a series loss for the Lakers, and that is too much to risk to perform a stupid elbow blow to an opponent's head.
Why do it? Why risk it? There is no logic to Artest's behavior, yet he continues to hurt players and damage his team's success in the process.
You will surely see the replay of his hit on Harden multiple times leading up to the playoffs, and each replay makes the situation look worse for Artest. It was clearly flagrant, intentional and completely uncalled for. There is not a place for that kind of action in the NBA. There was also not a place for the "Malice in the Palace" until Artest took that first step into the stands.
However, there is a place for this kind of behavior in the mind of Artest, as he continues to demonstrate. That is the reason why his legacy as a player will be forever tarnished. Regardless of what legal name he chooses to use, he will always be known as Ron Artest, the dirtiest player of our generation.
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