It was a wild, wild Sunday afternoon on ABC yesterday.
The double-overtime victory by a Lakers team that came back from 18 down (with Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions on the bench during their comeback), was forgotten in the aftermath of the World Peace elbow.
It's a shame that such a brilliant game will be remembered for the play that shouldn't have ever happened.
It's also a shame that something from eight years ago continues to be brought up when it doesn't need to be. Yes, I'm referring to that night at the Palace. That night will forever be an inescapable part of World Peace's history, but what he did last night—committed a dirty play that he deserves to be punished for—has little to do with how he reacted when he was hit with a cup from the stands that awful night in Detroit.
We can talk about World Peace's other altercations on the court, which, likely, will play a part in the punishment he is given, but let's save ourselves some time and stop trying to figure out MWP's intent when his elbow connected with James Harden's head. Tust me, that is a waste of your precious time. Truly.
There is only one person who can say with complete certainty what World Peace's intent was with that elbow and he's not talking beyond the tweets he sent out last night.
Whatever the intent, the act needs to be punished. Throwing an elbow, whether it's an elbow meant to create space, send a message, hit someone in the chest, or maliciously hit someone in the head, brings too many risks with it.
There's a reason you're not allowed to throw them.
World Peace threw an elbow and it connected with Harden's head. It was a scary play. Very scary. There's so much we still don't know about concussions and their after effects. We can only hope that Harden is okay and the effects of that elbow are minimal, but this could have been so much worse and that's why we need to make it clear that throwing 'bows is not something that can happen on the court.
Sometimes professional athletes forget their strength. World Peace isn't an average NBA player, either. Every time he comes through Toronto, inevitably, reporters end up discussing just how insanely huge/strong/powerful he is when they're in the media room after the media availability session wraps up in the locker room.
When you stand beside him, you realize part of why he's such a good defender, why he is impossible to stop from getting to a specific spot on the floor if he's decided he's going to get there. World Peace's strength is one of those things that can be scary. Yesterday, he lost sight of that and it was.
The league now has an opportunity heading into the playoffs to make a statement. Expect them to make a strong one. Whatever the appropriate punishment should be—I can't even pretend that I know what that is, but my initial reaction was five games—expect it to be stiffer as World Peace's reputation, the NHL's head shot drama and the playoffs looming all factor into the final decision here.
Is that fair? No, it's not, but it also isn't fair that Harden walked off of the basketball court yesterday with a concussion that was entirely and completely avoidable.