Ron Artest Didn't Mean It

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I think Ron Artest (I won't use his stupid-on-many-levels new name) didn't mean to cause harm to James Harden.

I think he was celebrating, he saw Harden out of the corner of his eye, and he just reacted by swinging his elbow. Now, for most people, this would be sufficient to establish intent: a normal person would see something out of the corner of their eye on the basketball court after a scoring play, know it's a fellow player, and avoid serious contact.

But Artest is not a normal person. He has very low intelligence, being unable to quickly process and understand events around him, and he has extremely poor impulse control (demonstrated dozens of times over the years). In his mind, he was just celebrating, and this dude was there, so he just swung to keep up his celebrating and momentum ... maybe swinging harder because, well, someone's in his way, right?

Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me, either. But I think it makes sense to Artest. That there might be significant consequences to his actions -- serious injury to Harden, long suspension for himself -- doesn't even register in his low-functioning brain. There's just the moment, and his desire to celebrate, and nothing else matters.

It's not even that he doesn't care about Harden in that moment: it's that Harden is nothing, a nonperson, an entity with no meaning. Anything outside of Artest and what he cares about in a given moment simply doesn't exist to him.

Artest is accused of being malicious in this event, but malice requires more than I think Artest, in that moment, was even capable of. Artest should not be kicked out of the league because he is a goon or a jerk or evil or malicious, but because he has serious mental deficiencies that -- combined with his size and strength -- make him a serious danger to everyone around him.

The NBA should have kicked him out of the league permanently after he started a brawl in Detroit (not that this is hard to do) seven seasons ago. Fights, pulling down the pants of opponents, drinking alcohol during halftime, asking for time off from the season to work on an R&B album ... the list goes on. He is an uncontrolled moron, he's terrible for the league, and he's a threat to other players, whether he intends it or not.

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