LOS ANGELES — The Lakers jersey says World Peace on the back. The player wearing it is still Ron Artest, and he’s in trouble again with the NBA.
Metta World Peace was pounding his chest with his right arm in celebration of a dunk over two opponents Sunday when his left arm suddenly flew out, landing a vicious backward elbow to James Harden’s head and dropping the Oklahoma City guard to the hardwood.
Within seconds, the roars of the crowd fell silent as fans watched in disbelief the latest act of violence by a player who changed his name last year to promote peace.
World Peace is likely to be sidelined when the Lakers open the postseason this weekend, and possibly longer. He claims he accidentally clipped Harden while celebrating a dunk, yet given his history as perhaps basketball’s most notorious troublemaker since Dennis Rodman, not even his teammates have any idea why he lost control for an inexplicable instant.
“It was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow,” World Peace said. “I hope he’s OK.”
His upcoming suspension will be just a fraction of the 86-game ban Artest received in November 2004 when as a member of the Indiana Pacers he jumped into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills to fight Detroit Pistons fans, precipitating perhaps the ugliest brawl in North American sports history.
Smith promoted to head coach at Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Eager to move on from the Bobby Petrino scandal, Arkansas announced Monday that popular former assistant John L. Smith will return as head coach of the Razorbacks next season.
Smith, who left the Razorbacks after last season to become the head coach at Weber State, will be formally introduced on Tuesday. The school said Smith signed a 10-month, $850,000 contract and will also be eligible for other incentives.
“I am tremendously excited to have this special opportunity to return to Arkansas and lead the Razorback football program,” Smith said in a statement.
Smith’s return caps a whirlwind three weeks for an Arkansas program reeling in the wake of revelations of an affair by Petrino with a woman, Jessica Dorrell, he later hired as his assistant. Petrino also once gave his Dorrell $20,000 in gifts - all which was revealed following an April 1 motorcycle crash on a rural road southwest of Fayetteville. Dorrell has since resigned.
• Bond was set at $5,000 on Monday for former Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, an NFL draft prospect who is accused of punching a police officer over the weekend. Dennard is charged with third-degree felony assault of a police officer. Police say he struck the officer during a disturbance outside a Lincoln bar about 2:15 a.m. Saturday.
• Penn State informally offered to rename Beaver Stadium after Joe Paterno, and the coach’s family replied through back channels that it wasn’t interested because it was never important to the late head coach, said a person familiar with the situation. The issue arose while the two sides also were also discussing details of payments and benefits due to Paterno’s estate and family under Paterno’s contract.
Havre de Grace retired after injuring ankle
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year, has been retired after injuring an ankle following a workout at Churchill Downs.
Owner Rick Porter said Monday on his Fox Hill Farm website that the injury was detected in the champion filly’s right front ankle Sunday. After she was examined at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, “we didn’t get a positive prognosis for continuing her racing career.”
Havre de Grace won the New Orleans Ladies in her only start this year. Last year, she took Horse of the Year honors by winning five of seven races, including the Apple Blossom, the Woodward Stakes against males and the Beldame. She also finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The 5-year-old bay mare won nine of 17 starts with four places and two shows and earned $2,586,175.
Injury forces Blues goalie Halak out for two games
ST. LOUIS | Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak was ruled out for the first two games of St. Louis’ second-round playoff series with an undisclosed injury.
But that’s no big deal for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Brian Elliott shut down the San Jose Sharks as the Blues needed just five games to win their first playoff series in a decade.
Elliott stopped 98 of 103 shots against the Sharks, a strong follow-up after leading the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average with nine shutouts in the regular season.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports