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Ball Don't Lie

Metta World Peace hasn’t spoken with James Harden, and has no plans to (VIDEO)

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

Outside of some snipes sent via Twitter that should have embarrassed both him and the people that deign to follow Metta World Peace on Twitter, the Los Angeles Lakers forward has kept nearly silent in the two weeks since his April 22 elbow to the face/neck/brain of Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden, and the resulting seven-game suspension handed down two days later. Metta was scheduled to appear on Conan O'Brien's show "Conan" two days after the incident, but decided to beg off the appearance. As an obsessive "Conan" viewer that had to watch a cast member of "The Big Bang Theory" fill in as a result, this represented a low point in my relationship with the former Ron Artest.

To MWP's credit, though, he returned to the "Conan" stage less than two weeks later to somewhat hold up to the bright lights, and obvious questions. And MWP, to his discredit, did absolutely nothing to let us assume that he's fully aware of how ridiculous he's looked over these last few weeks. Which is a shame, given his remarkable turnaround since joining the Lakers in the summer of 2009. Here's one excerpt from his interview:

Gladiator nonsense aside, to say "I didn't really know [Harden was hurt]" a second before pointing out that NBA players flop? That's some pretty low stuff, Metta, especially when taken in tandem with your tweets that have pointed to visual evidence of Harden's relatively rare flop attempts culled from the duration of his three-year career.

To then go on about wanting to sustain some competitive edge by not reaching out to the guy that you would probably not guard more than a half-dozen times in a seven-game series (a pairing only forced by mismatches in transition, or broken plays), makes you sound all the more out of touch with the sickness you pulled, there. Metta, you're not "The Hulk," as you tried to compare yourself to/draw a laugh from. That's not funny anymore, Ron MWP. You could have really hurt a guy who didn't deserve it.

And what's sickest of all is the name that was brought to mind in the midst of your talk with Conan, the name you brought up seconds later as a hypothetical.

Yes, Bill Laimbeer was a [fill it in]. But if he had brained even B.J. Armstrong towards the end of the 1990 regular season, he would have taken on a huge suspension -- because that game would have no doubt been on CBS, with Dick Stockton and Hubie Brown calling a great one. And because Laimbeer, the [fill it in, again], was not set to guard someone like Armstrong in the playoffs that were to start a week later, he probably would have reached out to see if the dude was OK, mainly because he didn't have to guard him in the playoffs. There is reasonable off-court evidence that Bill Laimbeer is a pretty tactless person even away from the bright lights, but your comparison is wrong, Metta.

And needlessly, specifically, hypothetical. It's one thing to compare suspensions from the 1980s to this one. It's another to invoke an actual name.

Then to sell out Reggie Miller like that?

We're no fans of Reggie Miller as an analyst. And though we know he spends most of his day bouncing from one major talk radio spot to the next, we've passed on listening to him in that form because he's never really given us much despite his Hall of Fame credentials. But MWP is falling back on the "you think we going to get in trouble" either obliviousness or pointed insincerity that was detailed by ex-teammates following his role in the brawl in Auburn Hills, Mich., some 7 1/2 years ago. It doesn't matter if your ex-teammates, the ones that refer to you as "a little brother," once embraced your role on a team. Even big brothers are allowed to get sick of what their little brothers are doing in public.

To see Metta this ... Ron Artest-ish? It's troubling. You did something stupid, in a moment, Metta. Whatever the spark, whatever the result, you're going to have to get your act together. Rage and frustration and fun and exultation and the sheer joy that must come from making a move like you did just before that dunk on national TV in front of an audience that probably thought had left Metta World Peace's athleticism for dead?

We get it. We're fans. We're hopeful.

Things have to turn around, though. These Lakers are championship contenders. We've said as much during their low points during the regular season, and as much during the team's current 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets. Little has changed, considering that squad's potential.

The playoffs are about May and June. And while we appreciate you showing up to talk to a man whose work has shaped our work as much as any basketball player or basketball scribe you could name, this has to be a low point. April 22 has to be long forgotten by the next time you suit up.

Your team's fortunes might not depend on it, but the next six months of your life might depend on it. With the Lakers fighting in the West, and the Buss family willing and eager to cut salary at whatever basketball cost via the amnesty clause, Metta, it's time to trend forward.


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