Maintain the 'Peace': Get Ron Artest Off the Court

Dear Mr. World Peace, Let me put this delicately: you're out of control and you don't belong in the NBA.

OK but seriously. If any of you missed the cheap elbow-to-the-head maneuver the player-formerly-known-as-Ron-Artest pulled this week, let's just say... he's out of control and doesn't belong in the NBA. Somehow I keep coming back to that conclusion.

Sure, we all make mistakes. Unfortunately, Artest seems to make a lot of them. Other than the infamous elbow incident, his biggest recent folly is the decision to change his name from Ron Artest to Metta World Peace. Wait... what? Yeah, no one else gets it either. Though, I can't argue with the delicious irony of a player with notoriously violent tendencies selecting a new name that evokes visions of harmony, kindness and love. I'm sorry, is it opposite day? In that case, I'll be going by "Always Keeps Her Car Clean" and "Frequently Remembers To Return Library Books Without Getting Sent To A Collections Agency For Overdue Fines" from here on out. Such fun!

I'm all about second chances. And third chances, because hey, I'm not perfect either. But for Mr. World Peace, the elbow mistake was the icing on a very large cake baked from a long, sordid history of NBA citations, fines and suspensions. There are bad, one-time mistakes and then there are bad, long-term habits. Let's review a few tales:

  • May 2011: 3-game suspension for hitting Jose Barea across the face.
  • July 2007: 7-game suspension for domestic violence charges.
  • April 2006: 1-game suspension for elbowing Manu Ginobili in the head.
  • November 2004: 86-game suspension for brawling with fans in the stands.

I'll pause here to note that the 86-game punishment is one of the longest suspensions in NBA history. IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE NBA, I SAID. If I continued with the list, it would include three incidents in 2004 and three more in 2003 -- one of which involved a television being thrown and a camera being smashed to pieces following a loss to the Knicks.

Dear David Stern, What is this man still doing in a jersey? For one thing, there are dozens of eager collegiate athletes and less-played pro-players who are more than willing to take his place. And I could probably name a few characters from Space Jam that could earn their keep better. And with a $7 million price tag, the Lakers can more than afford to bring on a replacement.

The fact is, Artest simply doesn't deserve to be there. Athletes pour lifetimes of blood, sweat and tears (usually their own blood, sweat and tears, in cases other than Ron Artest) to earn the jerseys they wear and a spot in a starting lineup. There should be a level of class and dignity expected with the privilege of being paid to play. And the only level of anything that our friend Mr. World Peace is bringing to the court is a new level of embarrassment for Lakers fans and team members alike.

Frankly, it's time for him to go. Artest's pink slip from the NBA is more overdue than my rogue stack of library books, is all I'm saying. Get the man the help he needs for his anger problems, but let him do it without a $7 million paycheck for a jersey he doesn't deserve. Give him a criminal defense attorney as a parting pension gift. Then buy new players. Renovate a stadium. Feed a small country or two. But don't waste the cash on someone who's contributing nothing but cheap celebrity fodder to the sport. The public already has Jersey Shore for that kind of crap.