The Los Angeles Lakers forward claims he did not mean to hurt Oklahoma's James Harden.
World Peace upset to be banned by NBA over elbow incident
Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles Lakers forward, suspended for seven NBA games for a violent elbow to the head of James Harden, has said he did not mean to hit the Thunder player.
In a podcast, the player who legally changed his name from Ron Artest last year indicated he did not expect a seven-game ban.
"I didn't expect to get seven games. I also didn't expect James Harden to be right behind me and I hit him with the elbow," World Peace said.
"But I'm happy he's OK. It could have been a bad elbow. I definitely didn't mean to throw an elbow at Mr Harden's head."
World Peace also spoke to the media on Wednesday at Lakers practice.
"Who can write up a left-hand dunk and then all of the sudden somebody is right behind you," he said according to ESPN.com. "It's hard to draw that up and to plan something like that. It was just the worst timing for me."
Harden suffered a concussion and did not return to the game after the incident shortly before half-time. The Lakers went on to win Sunday's contest in double over-time.
World Peace will miss tonight's regular-season finale against Sacramento and the playoff-bound Lakers' next six games.
If they are eliminated in the play-offs in four or five games, World Peace will serve the remainder of the suspension - one or two games - to start next season.
In discussing the suspension on Tuesday, NBA commissioner David Stern confirmed that the player's past disciplinary problems contributed to the length of the ban.
"It's really very serious stuff and it does take in account the fact that the perpetrator is who he is and has the record that he has, and this called for, in our view, a very stiff penalty ... " Stern said.
World Peace - then Artest - served an 86-game ban for his role in a fight between Indiana players and Detroit Pistons fans in November 2004.
The then Pacers player charged into the stands to attack a fan after someone threw an object at him, while other Pacers players brawled with Pistons fans on the court.
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