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Metta World Peace calls elbow on James Harden "brutal"

April 25, 2012|By Mark Medina

Wrong place, wrong time.

With three days to think things over and see plenty of replays, Lakers forward Metta World Peace viewed his elblow on Oklahoma City guard James Harden as nothing more than cosmic forces suddenly creating chaos.

"It was bad timing for me and then, physically, it was bad timing for Mr. Harden," World Peace said Wednesday at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "Who can write up a left-hand dunk and then all of the sudden somebody is right behind you? It's hard to draw that up and to plan something like that. It was just the worst timing for me."

The NBA thought otherwise. They gave him a seven-game suspension for what Commissioner David Stern said in a conference call for World Peace committing an act both "reckless and dangerous" that ultimately gave Harden a concussion.

World Peace appears to be still coming to grips with his punishment. He admitted in a podcast, "Mettaphorically Speaking: The Ron & Metta Show," released on Wednesday, that he was "surprised" over the seven-game suspension. A person close to him told The Times he would've respected any league punishment. Yet, World Peace declined to explain his reaction when he fielded questions from reporters Wednesday for the first time about his ejection and subsequent suspension.

"If I start talking about that, I'm going to open myself up for excuses and I'm not one to give excuses," World Peace said. "So, it's hard for me to speak about the games."

Instead, World Peace spoke about a number of other things.

First, he reiterated apologies to Harden and Oklahoma City. World Peace said he hasn't contacted Harden directly since he's suffered a concussion. But he said he apologized through one of Harden's friends, who informed him that the Thunder guard's health has improved. World Peace added he often plays pick-up basketball during the summer with Harde, an L.A. native.

"We're probably going to see each other in the playoffs, potentially, so I really didn't want to do any direct calls," World Peace said. "Stay competitive. But, through a friend, he said he was doing OK."

Second, he revisited the play that caused his suspension.  World Peace said he was unaware that Harden was behind him. He went from describing the incident Sunday involving an "unintentional elbow" to calling the play on Tuesday involving a "brutal elbow." He argued his violent reaction reflected the excitement he felt after dunking three times in the Lakers' eventual 114-108 double-overtime win Sunday over the Thunder. And when asked if he had "lost it" as he swung out his elbow, World Peace maintained "I didn't lose it."

"I was just way too emotional," World Peace said. "It seemed like anger but it was a lot of passion involved. But it was erratic. It was erratic fire, it was erratic passion. It was way too much. Way too much ..."

As a result, World Peace's practice routine will differ. He still has access to the team's facility and will still travel to the team. But World Peace has to leave any respective arena at least two hours before tipoff. Shortly after speaking with the media, World Peace worked on a series of conditioning exercises.



As much as he expressed sympathy over Harden's concussion, World Peace also sounded disappointed he couldn't ride his recent momentum. Though he's just averaging 7.7 points on 39.4% shooting this season, World Peace has averaged 14.1 points on a 47.5% clip through 13 games in April.

"The way I'm feeling right now, it's back to that elite level," World Peace said. "It's funny because a lot of guys that was able to guard me early, they have no chance now. They can't guard me. My game's feeling great. It's just the worst timing for me right now, but I'm happy that James is OK.""


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