Los Angeles forward Metta World Peace was ejected from the Lakers’ game against Oklahoma City on Sunday for elbowing unsuspecting Thunder forward James Harden in the head. World Peace — who legally changed his name from Ron Artest in September — had just jammed in a dunk that pulled the Lakers within one point with less than two minutes left in the first half when the incident occurred. He beat his chest with his fist in celebration of the dunk and turned to head for the other end of the court. He swung his left elbow, smashing it into the head and neck of Harden, who crumpled to the floor. Harden eventually rose and departed for the locker room. His teammates immediately went after World Peace but the officials stepped in to keep the two teams apart.
Officials then slapped World Peace with a flagrant foul penalty and booted him out of the game. The flagrant foul could carry a suspension. His loss would be a blow for the playoff-bound Lakers. After a sluggish start to the season he has averaged 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in April. The Lakers, who lead cross-town rivals the Clippers in a race for third place in the Western Conference, went on to erase an 18-point second-half deficit to beat the Thunder 114-106 in double overtime. Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant had six of his 26 points in the second overtime. Despite his choice of name, “Peace” hasn’t always been a hallmark of the former Artest’s career. In 2004, he received one of the longest NBA bans in history, sitting out 86 games, for his role in a brawl with fans in which he raced into the stands in Detroit.