The NBA has suspended Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace for seven games for elbowing Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden in the head, the league announced.
World Peace will miss the Lakers' regular-season finale against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday and the Lakers' first six playoff games. If the Lakers play only four or five games in the postseason, the suspension will carry over to the start of next season.
“The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement announcing the punishment. "We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations."
The suspension comes two days after World Peace elbowed Harden in the head late in the second quarter of the Lakers' double-overtime victory over the Thunder. While celebrating a dunk, World Peace ran into Harden as he ran upcourt. World Peace pounded his chest with his right arm and swung his left elbow, hitting Harden in the head. Harden dropped to the court and remained there for a few moments before being helped to the locker room. He was later diagnosed with a concussion.
World Peace was ejected from the game.
[ Video: Defending Metta World Peace ]
“Metta has for the most part been a model citizen both on and off the court since joining the Lakers," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "Still, his most recent lapse in judgement is not to be condoned or accepted. His actions could have seriously injured another player, and his absence during this suspension will hurt our team as well. While we accept the league’s decision, we will be supportive of Metta and try to help him be more professional on the court.”
Harden did not play in the Thunder's game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. The NBA has a new, thorough policy that players must pass before they are allowed to return to the court after being diagnosed with a concussion.
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