April 25th, 2012
When I heard that the player formerly known as Ron Artest was involved in another altercation I was just as surprised as everyone else. I didn't see the play live but it wasn't too hard to imagine what probably happened: a push, a shove, a grab, an elbow, or even one of those awkward situations when MWP1 gets tangled with another player and ― while still holding on to the other participant ― makes a face as if to say "Look! I'm not doing anything. I'm even putting one of my arms innocently in the air. And yes I know my other arm is still wrapped around and squeezing this guy's bicep, but hey, I'm making this surprised "I'm not doing anything" face that says I'm not doing anything!!"
Once I saw the play, my response was little more than a "meh." This is the sort of thing Ron Artest did. And this is what MWP does. I don't see why anyone cares anymore. Not that behavior like this is OK, it just isn't even a story to me. Steve Nash hit someone? That's a story. Kobe hit someone? That's a story. MWP hit someone? Whatever, suspend him and move on.
When a few people asked me how long he should be suspended, I said that I didn't care. And I don't. I have things to do.2 But, inevitably, the pundits got involved. So in other words, things became interesting.
Rembert Browne wrote a piece for Grantland essentially saying that during that game he and no one else knows what was going on inside of MWP's head. We know this because the title of the column was "What Was Going On Inside Metta World Peace's Head?" Browne spends the entire piece reminding us all that we cannot answer this question. He even also reminds us that MWP probably could not. You might wonder why someone would title their column with a question that they are going to argue cannot be answered, but that's beside the point.3 As I read the piece I was mostly thinking, "Yeah, you're right, no one knows MWP's thoughts, now get to why that matters." But, the piece ended abruptly so I moved on to other junk to read on different sites. However, a few minutes later it hit me...
Browne could have only meant one of two things. 1) To remind us that mind-reading technology is, in fact, still in its infancy and not readily available. Or 2) We cannot know whether MWP smashed his elbow into James Harden on purpose.
We can totally skip the discussion of how you would have to be blind to think that MWP made forceful contact with Harden on accident. He felt someone brushing up against his backside, and he decided to rather violently brush that someone off. It is so obvious that you'd sound like an idiot even trying to argue it. It's like explaining to someone why you like the color blue more than green. It can't be explained because it doesn't have to be explained. You just know it.
But that isn't the point here. Well it is in the sense that that not being the point is the point. MWP's intent doesn't matter, which is what Browne fails to recognize. No one cares what is going on inside MWP's head. Is doesn't matter that we "don't know." Technically we don't know what's going on inside anyone's head. Ever. We don't know what's going on inside criminals heads, we don't know what's going inside philanthropists heads, we don't know what was going on inside Stalin's head, we don't know what's going on inside Adam Sandler's4 head. None of that matters, we judge people based on their actions, not their intent.5
It might be anticlimactic that I don't have anything deeper to say on that article, but that's a good thing. It is that simple. Browne's piece is so absurd that I couldn't even recognize its absurdity the first time through. The idea that saying "Hey guys, we don't know what he was thinking" means anything or has any relevancy to the discussion is asinine. MWP probably did not premeditate his actions. And if that's all Browne wanted us to know, then for the love of god Bill Simmons you can find other writers. I am available and I promise I will do a better job than that.
This really boils down to a continued weakening of any sort of personal responsibility in our world. This is what Michael Hudson seemed to get at in this republished piece on The Classical. No, I don't mean that Hudson was calling out the lack of personal responsibility. I mean that he was shamelessly enabling it. Hudson makes sure to place the following phrase in his teaser: "a reminder that Metta World Peace did not invent violence." Thanks, Mike. Where would we be without you on that one?
When I imagine Browne and Hudson writing these pieces, it's hard to not picture them doing that thing MWP does which I mentioned in the first paragraph. "Look!! I'm not doing anything bad!! Sure I just wrote that we can't judge MWP for elbowing people because we can't read his mind, and other athletes not named MWP have been violent like this before, but since I kinda mentioned that what he did was sorta wrong, what I'm doing now is totally cool. See! Just now I said he should be suspended. I'm not doing anything irresponsible!!"
I actually do agree with Hudson and Browne that A) this doesn't need to be blown up in the media, and B) no one needs to attack MWP personally. His behavior is what matters here, and he is going to be reprimanded by the NBA for that behavior. There is no need to waste time or outrage. If you want something to be outraged about, start with bad columns. The last thing we need is 'enlightened' grown men lecturing other grown men not to judge others because "we can't read their mind" or to remember that someone else may have got away with it in the past.
You've reached the Archives