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Metta World Peace throws an elbow -- and his reformed reputation, in weekend game

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, at 01:14PM
Flickr via Angel_Blue

Metta World Peace hit Oklahoma City Thunder forward James Harden in Sunday's L.A. game.

Lakers forward Metta World Peace threw an elbow in Sunday's game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder that not only got him ejected and facing a possible suspension, but may damage the sportsmanlike reputation he's worked so hard to build over the past few seasons.

Although World Peace said that hitting the Thunder's James Harden in the side of the head was unintentional, the slow-motion replay shows a different story.

The Los Angeles Times reports that World Peace had just made his third dunk of the game when he cocked his arm and threw an elbow at Harden -- causing the Oklahoma City guard to fall to the floor clutching his ear.

In a tweet from Sunday night, World Peace acknowledged how incriminating the play looked : "I just watched the replay again..... Oooo.. My celebration of the dunk really was too much... Didn't even see James ..... Omg... Looks bad."

ESPN did a round-up of their reporter's gut reactions to the elbow heard-round-the world, and most agreed it was indeed a flagrant foul.

Michael Wallace of ESPN.com described it as "totally dirty" and "possibly criminal." Andrew Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles said his first response to the incident was: "Shock -- it was a pretty vicious hit, seemingly out of nowhere -- and then disappointment, considering how much work Metta has put in rehabilitating his season and image."

An L.A. Times reporter who said he's been covering World Peace for the last 2 1/2 seasons, wrote: "There's no reason World Peace would cock his arm and then rear back with such force unless he was planning to hit somebody. And because of the severity of that incident, World Peace deserves a suspension that lasts as long as Harden remains sidelined as he tries to recover from a concussion."

While World Peace awaits the verdict on what his punishment will be, many sportswriters and Lakers fans are most disappointed in World Peace's regression in behavior.

An aptly named Chicago Sun-Times story said: "Metta World Peace goes Ron Artest on James Harden."

When World Peace was Ron Artest, the 6'7 basketball player was known for fits of anger on the court, no incident more infamous than when he marched into the stands and punched a fan in 2004. This resulted in an 86-game suspension, the longest penalty for a physical altercation in NBA history, according to the L.A. Times.

World Peace has come a long way since then, winning the NBA Citizenship Award last year and becoming an advocate for mental health.

Now, only one game away from the Playoffs, World Peace once again faces suspension for an act of court violence. He and the rest of the Lakers are waiting for the final word from the NBA league office.

See the play from yesterday's game here:

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