LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles Laker formerly known as Ron Artest, is speaking out about his seven-game suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City’s James Harden.
“I hope James Harden is OK. I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization… I look forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers and the Lakers fans,” he said in a statement on his Web site.
On his iTunes podcast, “The Ron and Metta Show,” Metta insists he didn’t mean to elbow Harden.
He begins his suspension Thursday night in Sacramento and is set to lose $348,000 in salary if he serves the entire seven-game sentence.
If the Lakers exit the playoffs quickly, the remainder of the suspension will be served next season.
“The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area.” NBA commissioner David Stern said Tuesday. “We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”