During his appearance on the “Forgotten Seasons” podcast, Kendrick Perkins revealed what happened after Metta World Peace elbowed James Harden in 2012 and how the incident motivated the Thunder for the playoffs. For Perk, the hard foul was just what the OKC needed at that time.
Metta World Peace elbows James Harden
Throughout the years, Metta earned a reputation as the NBA’s unpredictable one. You don’t know what he would do next; even his teammates and coaches were often caught by surprise. He had anger management issues and admitted the guys he played with in Indiana helped recognize the problem sooner.
“When I got to Indiana, we started to really get a [mental-health] diagnosis, and then I just started to do therapy and breathe in and meditation and different things like that. That was really cool, when I started to work on that type of stuff.”Metta World Peace, ESPN
His involvement in the Malice at the Palace only proved his struggles with handling his emotions, and a regular-season game against OKC in 2012 reminded everyone of it. That’s when World Peace again did the unthinkable — he elbowed James Harden so hard it became an internet meme.
The video review revealed World Peace wanted to hurt The Beard and was not just celebrating a dunk, as he tried to sell it. As a result, Metta was ejected, but the Lakers still pulled off a 114-106 victory over the Thunder. Harden had to be placed in concussion protocol due to the severity of the hit on his head. You can see what happened below:
The Thunder lost the game, but the incident changed the course of their upcoming playoff series.
Kendrick Perkins: “It lit a fire under us“
Perkins, who was part of the Thunder roster, claimed that the incident helped them. His role was to become the enforcer the young Thunders needed to make it through the tough playoffs. And Kendrick played his part well.
“When Metta World Peace elbowed James, that was the worst thing that he could have done because that actually lit a fire under us.”Kendrick Perkins, Forgotten Seasons
The Lakers and OKC met in the Western Conference semifinals, but this time, Harden got the last laugh as the Thunder ran away with a 4-1 series victory. And according to Perk, the incident from April 22, 2012, had a lot to do with it.
James and the rest of the roster used it as a lesson for overcoming the physicality of the playoffs. Because hard fouls are expected when the stakes are higher. And for Perkins, the foul had to happen for a lesson to be learned the hard way.