Lakers' World Peace says 'brutal elbow' caused by passion

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Metta World Peace called it "erratic passion" that led to his wild post-dunk celebration Sunday that left Oklahoma City's James Harden with a concussion and resulted in a seven-game suspension.

On a brief podcast released Wednesday, World Peace expressed surprise over the severity of his punishment that will keep him out of the first round of the playoffs, but refused to talk at length with reporters in the afternoon about the suspension.

"If I start talking about that, I'm going to open myself up for excuses and I'm not one to give excuses," said World Peace, who begins his suspension with tonight's regular-season finale at Sacramento. "So, it's hard for me to speak about the (amount of) games (I was suspended)."

Harden suffered a concussion and did not return to the game after he was elbowed behind the ear with 1:39 left in the second quarter of the Lakers' 114-106 double-overtime victory. World Peace called it a "brutal elbow" but that he couldn't stop his momentum after dunking on Kevin Durant, his third such basket of the game.

"Kevin had no chance," World Peace said. "Bumped him out 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. But it was erratic. It was erratic fire, it was erratic passion. It was way too much. Way too much.

"It definitely wasn't meant to hit him how I hit him. That's the best way I could describe those sequence of plays and the erratic passion. ... That passion is bottled up."

Where World Peace saw passion, NBA commissioner David Stern saw irresponsible behavior, conduct he has demonstrated repeatedly throughout his 13-year NBA career. Stern said he took into account World Peace's history when he decided on the penalty.

World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, received an 86-game suspension in 2004 for going after a fan in the stands during a brawl at Detroit. This is his 13th suspension.

"It's really very serious stuff and it does take in account the fact that the perpetrator is who he is and has the record that he has," Stern said in a conference call. "And this called for, in our view, a very stiff penalty and we think that seven games, which only includes one regular-season game, is such a stiff penalty."

Stern also was clear that he didn't believe World Peace accidentally struck Harden, who remains out.

"I believe that it was recklessly thrown and I believe that in looking at the replays again and again that he should have known that James was up against him, and some would argue that he had to have known," Stern said.

But at the same time Stern said many will see the penalty as harsh, while others will considered too light.

"I think the seven was larger than some people might have thought just from an elbow, and I think that in many cases people who thought that this was so horrible that it should result in a lifetime ban," he said. "But at the end of the day, I have to close the door and say, 'OK, what is justice here and what's fairness here,' and I came up with seven."

World Peace came into the season overweight and out-of-shape, but had recently begun to pick up his game. He was averaging 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds over the past 13 games.

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