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Metta World Peace Says He's 'Playing Hard,' Not Dirty

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 24:  Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on February 24, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 2, 2013

In an interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, noted elbow enthusiast Metta World Peace proclaimed his innocence after being assessed a flagrant 2 foul for a shot to the face of Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried.

In a somewhat disjointed and logically inconsistent explanation, World Peace argued that he's not a dirty player, but instead, simply plays aggressively.

Here's a snippet of what he told McMenamin:

It's not like I brought this aggression to the league. I didn't invent this. This is what we watched, this is what we saw. The Bill Laimbeers and the (Dennis) Rodmans, they play hard and they wasn't trying to hurt anybody.

They played hard. They played with passion. We grew up wanting to play with passion. So, when the guys say we're dirty, we're just playing hard.

This would be a perfectly fine—if somewhat confusing—defense for the Feb. 25 elbow that MWP delivered to Faried's face. In a vacuum, the play could be construed as accidental.

But two things make it impossible to believe World Peace or view his latest infraction objectively. First, we're not all idiots. And second, YouTube exists.

Here's the play in question:

You'll note that World Peace clearly sees Faried preparing to crash the offensive boards and positions himself in his path. That's not a problem, but raising his elbows to a level above his own head doesn't serve any purpose other than to facilitate a meeting with Faried's cranium.

MWP knew Faried was coming, and he deliberately cracked him.

The play's not the ugliest flagrant foul of all time, and really, it's probably a good idea for World Peace to try to deter the Manimal from pursuing offensive boards. Faried thrives on the offensive glass; crashing the boards is what he does best.

But let's at least call it what it is, shall we Metta?

A little analysis leads to the conclusion that this play is probably closer to "dirty" than it is to "aggressive," but when the overall context of World Peace's reputation comes into play, it's even more obvious.

Take this Christmas gift from World Peace to Steve Novak, for example.

Now that's what an accident looks like. MWP is just coming back for an offensive board after he missed a layup, and Novak happens to be heading in the opposite direction. It was a relatively minor clip that happened because two players were focusing on the ball and not each other.

Here, though, the line's blurrier. Watch as World Peace dings Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin. The Rockets' home announcers are naturally convinced that a dirty play had taken place, and they might have a good point. There's a bit more deliberate action by MWP here.

And finally, everyone remembers the mother of all intentional elbows—World Peace's playoff flattening of James Harden. It's pretty much impossible to elbow someone more purposefully. I mean, there's a windup, contact and a follow-through. This is the epitome of a dirty play.

Overall, there's definitely a spectrum to World Peace's play. His aggression is unwavering, but on the more dangerous end, he obviously has a history of dirty, unsportsmanlike episodes.

Accidents happen, but the play on Faried wasn't one of them. More than that, we're way past the point of giving MWP the benefit of the doubt on anything involving an elbow and someone else's head.

Anyone willing to be reasonable (a group that clearly does not include World Peace) can easily conclude that the Lakers forward's play is always aggressive, but often dirty as well.

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