Since Artest already has a history with the league, there's no doubt he's at least going to be fined for his actions; even worse for the Rockets, he could be suspended for his throat-slashing gesture, not leaving the court in a timely matter, and getting in Kobe Bryant's face.
The moral of the story is that he retaliated and Bryant is the one who created the whole scene. Furthermore, the NBA and its officials will pretty much let Bryant do whatever he wants.
On to the play itself: Bryant, while trying to establish rebounding position, threw an elbow purposefully at the throat of Artest. Anyone believing Bryant would believe that he was trying to gain position; that was a laugher.
When rebounding a basketball from a young age, players are taught to use their butt as well as get low to establish position.
Bryant wasn't even doing that. Sure, he was getting pushed in the back by Artest, but he just threw his arms up not establishing any kind of box out, which allowed Artest to push Bryant underneath the basket.
Bryant, on the other hand, did not like the fact that Artest is so much stronger than him, and that is when Bryant intentionally tried to hurt Artest by throwing that elbow to his throat.
No one is buying that Kobe Bryant didn't do it on purpose when it's clear that he did, and he knew exactly who he was throwing his elbow at because he knew with Derek Fisher being already ejected from the game, he would not be able to defeat the Rockets on his own with Artest and Shane Battier guarding him.
The league will more than likely review the play, but just like the Rajon Rondo incident, it will not fine or suspend Bryant. The reason being there was no windup, even though it's clear that Bryant wasn't making a basketball play.
This wasn't an incidental elbow that sometimes catches players on rebounds like when Dikembe Mutombo goes up for a rebound. This was a blatant elbow, and again, Artest should not be blamed for his actions because of the heat of the moment.
Also, Bryant defensively likes to get under people's skin. He will grab, hold, reach in, etc., trying to shake the confidence of the offensive player and get under his skin.
He will get away with things most other NBA players will not get away with because he's Kobe Bryant, "the best player in the league," so he deserves some leeway that other players do not get.
The same also can be said on the offensive end for Kobe.
With that being said, Kobe just may have met his match. The NBA, including David Stern and Stu Jackson, need to review the incident and make an unbiased judgment, not a biased one against both Artest and Bryant.
In the end, the one deserving the bigger punishment is Bryant. If that elbow had really connected, he could have killed someone. The throat is not an area anyone should be going after, no matter if you're Kobe Bryant or anyone else in the league.
Bryant deserves to be suspended, but he won't. Artest doesn't deserve to be suspended but more than likely will be.
Is the league's punishment process consistent? No, and it will show with the bias towards Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant.