Everybody has the right to judge Metta Sandiford-Artest, who was Metta World Peace at the time, on his infamous elbow incident with James Harden in 2012. On the other hand, the man himself also has every right to address the subject. As expected, he had some context to add to the incident and wanted us to hear him out.
It wasn’t intentional
In all fairness to Sandiford-Artest, he never shied away from talking about it, and even more worth noting, he was consistent. In 2020, Metta said then-Lakers coach Mike Brown told him, ‘Yo, I need more energy.’ So, he came in hyped. When he got a dunk, Sandiford-Artest said emotion and intensity got the better of him, and that elbow was the product. He never intended it.
In 2019, Sandiford-Artest shared almost the same sentiment. And another constant thing was his remorse.
“It wasn’t as bad as he made it seem but it could have been worse,” Sandiford-Artest told GQ of the incident. “It wasn’t necessarily the elbow. It was that I couldn’t control my emotions…I was having a great game, I was playing my best Laker basketball. It took me a couple years to figure out how to play with Kobe…I was killing them. I got a dunk. When James Harden came up from behind me and pushed me, I’m like, ‘Get the f*ck off me’…That moment was a moment where I’m like, ‘Sh*t. Again?’ So that was one of my worst moments.”
Artest was better than that
Arguably, the elbow incident with Harden will always be one of the first things people will remember about Sandiford-Artest. But regardless of how his past troubles seem to overshadow everything about him, one thing we can all agree on is that Metta was a commendable player.
After almost 18 seasons in the NBA, Sandiford-Artest copped an array of accolades. He was an NBA champion, one-time All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year, and a four-time All-Defensive team selectee. However, he admitted that apart from the infamous elbow incident, not winning more awards was one of the “only two things” he regrets in his career.
“I have a lot of regret about the awards…I don’t have all the awards I want,” Sandiford-Artest confessed.
All told, troublemaker or not, legendary or not, how we’ll view Metta Sandiford-Artest, and that elbow on Harden is still up to us.