Even with his fate already sealed by the seven-game suspension, Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace maintains that while his elbow to Oklahoma City’s James Harden was tough to watch, it was unintentional and merely a result of his passion for the game.
“During that possession there was so much passion,” World Peace said in the New York Times. “A lot of people get mistaken when they hear Metta World Peace’s name. When I’m out there on that court, that passion is bottled up.”
Perhaps that same passion is what sparked the return of World Peace’s offensive game, as he saw his stats increase to 14 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.
According to World Peace, that passion was unleashed after a string of high-energy plays in what was an important game for the Lakers. The Lakers had lost the previous two games they played Oklahoma City, including a blowout lost at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
World Peace came out aggressive in the game, attacking the Thinder on both ends of the floor. However, it was his third dunk of the game that sent him over the edge.
“And the third one, fast break—Kevin (Durant) had no chance,” he said. “Bumped him out of the way, went up, dunked. And at that point, I was just way too emotional. It seemed like anger but it was a lot of passion involved.”
There was one statement World Peace made that quickly cast doubt on his claims that the elbow was unintentional.
World Peace told reporters, “It definitely wasn’t meant to hit him how I hit him.”
The implication was this: World Peace indeed meant to throw the elbow; he just didn’t intend to give Harden a concussion.