There’s no debating the undeniable flop culture in modern-day professional sports. Sooner or later, the Academy Awards may want to consider divvying out an Oscar or two to the fabulous acting on display in the sports world. Across the board you have soccer studs taking dives drawing penalty kicks, baseball batters pretending they were hit by a pitch drawing a free base, and NBA hoopers’ flailing arms fouling out key players in important games. It’s deceitful to both fans and referees trying to keep the game clean and fair. It’s tough to give anyone the benefit of the doubt anymore—acting is now fully engrained in gamesmanship and if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.
When Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden hit the floor the other day in a matchup versus the Los Angeles Lakers, I was casually monitoring the game with a household of basketball fans. We all collectively groaned and instantaneously accused Harden of flopping after seeing him fall lifeless on the court after an emphatic Laker bucket. That being said, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Harden, because after taking a second look at the replay, we all saw that Harden was in fact victimized by one of most malicious and violent elbows I’ve ever seen in my life (that includes all the mixed martial arts fights I’ve seen, even this one).
As a result, Laker small-forward Ron Artest (I refuse to call him Metta World Peace any longer for obvious reasons) was suspended by league commissioner David Stern for seven total games, the stiffest penalty ever set on a player for throwing an elbow. Clearly, Artest’s past shady history played a role in the severity of the sanctioning. Here’s a glimpse of the jaw-dropping footage if you have yet to view it. Right after the incident, I knew right off the bat it’d be a great trap to feature on the Trapit sports page. Like I anticipated, the debate began and continues to rage on how Artest’s disciplinary actions were (mis)handled.
On a positive note, Harden has been cleared for basketball activities after suffering a concussion at the hands of Artest, the lunatic in purple and gold. There has been a heavy outcry in the sports world insisting that Artest’s seven-game suspension was far too mild, and that it would’ve been much more severe had it not happened a few games before the NBA playoffs tip off. Some analysts even consider it a joke that Artest is able to return to the game of basketball at all, considering how he remains unstable years after the Malice in the Palace tragedy in which his borderline-psychotic behavior left the NBA speechless with its deepest, ugliest bruise in the history of the sport. At the time, I passionately wanted Artest banned for life—there is never an excuse to enter the crowd throwing reckless haymakers at innocent fans. Seeing Pete Rose (STILL) banned from major league baseball while a disgrace like Artest collects a paycheck is just baffling. It’s wrong, and something, someone of stature must address this absurd hypocrisy.
But never mind what I think, Artest will be back in a Laker uniform in the first round of the playoffs regardless of the magnitude of fan outrage. If the NBA (and other professional leagues like the NFL, NHL, etc) are serious about curbing dangerous head injuries, step one has got to be the weeding out process of the unworthy thugs that continue to tarnish the game in disgusting ways. With his big smile and “World Peace” stitched on his jersey, Artest will soon check into the game as a living, breathing contradiction and a reminder that the NBA’s black-eyed reputation has still yet to fully heal.
If you’ve been searching for a more significant reason to despise the Lakers, well, add this one to the list. Rest assured, when the Lakers hit the road for their first playoff series, the boo-birds will be chirping in full swing. The beat goes on in the Metta World Peace trap!
27 April 2012