Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
As if there wasn’t already enough drama built around the Thunder and Lakers second round matchup, Metta World Peace is throwing a little gas on a burning bonfire.
Clearly, the atmosphere in Oklahoma City will be intense, largely focused around getting some kind of revenge on World Peace for his devastating elbow on James Harden. But instead of staying low key about it, World Peace seems to be relishing this, trying to incite and escalate things.
He almost proudly declared a week ago on Conan that he had not spoken to Harden since the elbow and defiantly defended himself for the act. He said he deserved the suspension, but then mentioned Kevin Love stepping Luis Scola as if to try and draw a comparison.
But with Game 1 coming and the intensity sure to be high in OKC, World Peace isn’t backing down in the slightest. Via the L.A. Times:
“It’ll be ironic. I assume that the fans won’t love it,” World Peace said. “People can say what they want, but that’s going to the most entertainment Oklahoma City has had since they’ve been Oklahoma City.
World Peace has not spoken to Harden since elbowing him in the second quarter of the Lakers’ 114-106 double-overtime victory April 22.
He didn’t expect to greet him before the game.
“He doesn’t start. I only fist-bump the starting five,” World Peace said. “I don’t fist-bump subs.”
Or he put it this way via Yahoo! Sports: “I don’t shake substitutions’ hands,” he said. “He doesn’t start.”
How that last statement is perceived is that World Peace is dissing Harden, but it’s hard to really know his intention. With World Peace being a starter and Harden not, it would be a little awkward for him to walk over when Harden enters the game to give him a little handshake. A show of sportsmanship and class, absolutely, but we’re talking Ron Metta Artest Peace here. Those things don’t exactly exist in that fantasy land he walks around in.
Also, why not before the game? You nearly decapitated the dude. You can’t just man up and go over and say my bad? Just a simple 10-second gesture. Don’t ever be confused: Despite the attempt at rehabilitating an image, he’s still Ron Artest.
World Peace said this of Thunder fans and how they might react:
“It’s not my concern. It’s their concern,” he said. “We live in America – freedom of speech. You have freedom to do anything that you want to do.”
World Peace has taken a unique approach to his vicious crime, avoiding much public regret or apology. On Conan O’Brien, he actually implied Harden shared some blame for the elbow incident for “sticking his chin” in World Peace’s way.
The stage is certainly set and I’m sure Thunder fans will make their displeasure with World Peace heard very clearly. And World Peace only seems to be eating this up. He seems to be enjoying the anger directed towards him. Gonna make for a fun second round series, that’s for sure. I’d say keep it classy, but forget that. End World Peace.