[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="METTA SMASH!"][/caption]
You may have already seen the video of Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest, aka Guy Who Tried to Kill Detroit Fans) celebrating a dunk by attempting to take James Harden's head off with his elbow. It had to hurt if you were Harden, but it probably is going to end up hurting Metta even more in the form of a serious suspension just days before the start of the NBA Playoffs.
For what it's worth (not much) I think Metta's punishment should be minimal.
Currently the Lakers (41-24) are cruising into the playoffs as either the 3rd or 4th seed in the Western Conference. They have a ton of good vibes around them as Kobe looks like Kobe, while Andrew Bynum is looking like he is the best center in the NBA. As we've learned in the past, pairing Kobe with the best center in the NBA works pretty well (Exhibit A - Shaq's LA years, Exhibit B - Change in LA pre and post Pau Gasol acquisition).
Metta isn't the main cog in this LA machine, and the Lakers did continue on after he was ejected to beat the (arguably) best team in the NBA the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2OT's. Yet, adding more drama to an already drama filled Staples Center can't help the Lakers cause. So even though Metta's likely long suspension may not hurt the team too much on the court, it is just one more thing to talk about with one of league's most talked about teams.
Was it intentional?
In my view it was Metta just celebrating, and in the same way that he used to go into a blind rage and beat down fans, he was in a blind celebration rage and just started pounding his chest and then as he felt Harden bump into him without thinking did a swim move/attempted beheading to get around Harden whilst continuing his celebration. Just so happens that James Harden's head was in the way of that left elbow. Had it been his back, yes maybe a flagrant foul is assessed but the suspension and ejection likely are not.
Sucks for Harden. Sucks for Metta.
Metta's past will work against him, as it should. He brought his past discretion's upon himself and now must deal with the consequences of those actions even though this time he may not be as guilty.