There should be no question as to whether or not the player formerly known as Ron Artest meant to throw the elbow that injured Oklahoma City guard James Harden on Sunday afternoon, but we can at least wonder what the hell Metta World Peace was thinking when he did it.
World Peace had just completed an impressive dunk in transition during the second quarter of the Lakers 114-106 double-overtime victory over the Thunder and while celebrating, Peace wound his arm up and came across Harden's neck, hard.
Harden immediately crumpled to the floor while Peace beat his chest a few more times for emphasis and pretended not to notice the consequences of his actions.
Artest has since apologized for his malicious act and while he said there was no evil intent in his actions, it was easy for the mind to wander to previous events that transpired in 2004.
Artest's unprecedented suspension curtailed a promising career and left an almost permanent black mark on his reputation that he was just beginning to finally put behind him. At least until Sunday afternoon.
And the sad thing is, Artest is not nearly as bad a person as this afternoon's incident makes him look.
Artest's back story is the same as any you would find from kids who grew up in poverty, facing the numerous obstacles that type of childhood entailed.
Artest was reared in the notorious Queens Bridge projects in Queens NY, and his history of dealing with anger management issues throughout his childhood has been well chronicled.
But so has the size of Artest's heart, and his tendency to uplift others who faced the same kinds of struggles that he faced while growing up. While that does nothing to excuse his actions on the court, it does paint a different picture than the one we saw on Sunday.
How many other players do you know that would donate their first and only NBA championship ring to charity?
Unfortunately, none of that will matter when the NBA doles out their brand of justice for Artest's indiscretion, because a precedent has been set and it was a very egregious act.
Artest will likely receive at least a two-game suspension and according to this article by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, he should miss a few more games.
Berger says that Artest's actions are even worse than Minnesota Timber Wolves forward Kevin Love's head stomp on Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola, but that is a subjective opinion.
However, this is not. The one thing I know for sure is when the NBA does hand down their punishment it will be completely free of any leniency. The league will not be concerned about what type of person World Peace has become. Instead, they will remember who Ron Artest was and what he once did.