By Scott Tibbs, May 2, 2012
When Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest threw a flagrant elbow at Oklahoma City Thunder player James Harden, it was just was just another in a long line of actions that demonstrate the Lakers are a team of thugs and criminals.
There is a history here. Lakers center Andrew Bynum should have spent time behind bars last year for his felony assault on JJ Barea as the Lakers were about to be eliminated from the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks. It was one of the dirtiest plays I have ever seen and the intent was clearly to injure Barea. Bynum assaulted an airborne player twice before, and one of the incidents resulted in his victim suffering in a fractured rib and a collapsed lung.
The NBA needed to send a message here, and Chris Mannix argues that seven games is not enough. I would go much farther than that, because punishing Artest is not nearly enough. No, the LA Lakers team itself needs to be punished. This type of behavior is clearly condoned by the Lakers, and the NBA needs to send a very clear message that this will not be tolerated and there will be severe consequences.
The Lakers should have been made to forfeit their spot in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
Is that extreme? Is that unprecedented? Yes and yes. But there would be no more effective way to make it very clear that this crap will not be tolerated. If a strong and athletic six-foot-seven, 260 pound man threw an elbow like that on the street, he would be arrested. If he threw an elbow like that in any line of work other than pro sports, he would be fired. This was a dangerous play that could have seriously injured someone, and the entire team needs to feel the consequences. If the team is punished in a real and meaningful way, NBA teams will know they must control their players.
Of course, there was never going to be a meaningful punishment for a player who plays in the NBA's second largest market, much less any sort of punishment for the team itself. Anyone who thinks so is deluding himself. The NBA would not dare threaten its revenue with such a move, and make no mistake about it - the NBA will always put profit over sportsmanship. Anyone who follows the NBA knows that David Stern has absolutely no integrity. He is completely and thoroughly corrupt, and should have been fired years ago.