A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The logical solution: End World Peace

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Today Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) violently attacked another basketball player. This time Oklahoma City player James Harden was the victim with brutal elbow cocked and swung with full force into the side of Harden’s head. If that seems like deja vu, it’s because this keeps happening. While Artest might be most known for the Malice at the Palace where he started a brawl  by running up into the stands and punching an innocent fan, in total he’s been suspended 12 times. And now he’s done it again.

I’ve been waiting tonight to see some opinions about what should be done, and I’m disappointed. Over on ESPN, they had 5 analystsgive their takes. Their answers varied from 3 to 15 games. Folks this is crazy. The solution is so simple, and yet people are afraid to say it.

Screenshot of ESPN showing the Pacers-Pistons ...

Screenshot of ESPN showing the Pacers-Pistons brawl, at the moment where Ron Artest is charging into the stands, about to punch Mike Ryan who he mistakenly thought was responsible for throwing a cup at him. (Photo credit: Wikipediale are afraid to say it:

Ban Ron Artest

Lifetime ban. No way back in.

Now when I say this, I recognize people think I’m some sort of extremist. Perhaps I’m someone who wants to see the NFL turned into a flag football league or something reactionary like that. Hardly.

Look, the idea behind a punishment is that it’s supposed to have some kind of effect. Since we’re talking about a player being punished for the umpteenth time, this isn’t a situation that makes any sense to look at from a lens of discouraging other players. Whatever is done here  is just about what needs to be done next with a player whose rule breaking with regards to hurting other people is more prolific than any player in history than I can think of.

So now consider: Does anyone think that suspending Artest for 3 games will prevent this from happening again? What about 5? 10? 15? Heck, 50? 150 games? I can’t imagine anyone actually thinks that.

Most of us have lost our temper badly at one time or another. When we do, we cease to be able to control ourselves, no matter how much we know intellectually we shouldn’t be acting this way. Watching Artest today was the picture of a man who simply had no intellectual control over what he was doing. There was no thought to the punishment he was going to get.

As a person, this makes me sympathetic to Artest’s plight. When he has a cool head, he has a warm, giving heart. Beyond that, I’m well aware of all the therapy and self-improvement Artest has put into his brain over the years. I know he’s trying, and as a person that counts for something.

Were I running the NBA though, I could not think of this first and foremost as how to help Artest. Artest is hurting other people, and so his victims are the primary concern. Playing in the NBA is a right, not a privilege, and if you can’t control yourself you lose that privilege.

The same would be true at any job: Break the rules often enough, you get fired. There’s a tendency to believe that “banning” a player is somehow more drastic of a step than that, but it really isn’t. Ain’t nobody going to jail, despite the fact that Artest isn’t exactly screwing up TPS reports here, he’s committing violent assault, habitually, on his coworkers. Anyone who thinks that is not a big enough deal to justify a firing needs to get perspective.

More punishment is not going to change Artest.

Were this earlier in his career, and we hadn’t explored the therapy options, I’d be open to trying that route. But it’s not, and we have, so I’m not. 8 Years after Malice, this is still happening. More punishment at this point is just lip service. It is a way to make clear that the NBA won’t tolerate this nonsense while doing absolutely nothing to discourage said nonsense.

It is cowardice

The only two logical solutions left then are 1) stop punishing Artest altogether, or 2) stop letting Artest be in a position where he can hurt other players. No one believes (1) is the right approach. That leaves door #2, which Metta World Peace should take care not to hit him on the way out.

I wish him the best of luck with the rest of his life, but there simply is not a good reason for the NBA to stay in the Ron Artest business. We’ve long since past the point where any pros attached to allowing Artest to stay are outweighed by him hurting even one more person. His  actions today serve to remind us that the inaction of the NBA has indeed further elevated the pain and suffering caused by Artest far beyond any good he has ever done in this sphere.

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 23, 2012 at 12:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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