NBA commissioner David Stern said Wednesday he considered many factors but used no specific formula to determine the length of the seven-game suspension he dealt to Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace's for elbowing Thunder guard James Harden last Sunday.
"I can tell you that it's some combination of art and science," Stern said during a 40-minute pre-playoff teleconference with media. "We look at the previous penalties. We look at who's involved in the altercation. We do take into account the seriousness of the injury and whatever else was in the atmosphere, and then it just becomes my job to decide what it should be. If I were looking inside from without that, I would agree with everyone who has an opinion, but at the end of the day, it's my job to make the decision and then move on, and hopefully we can."
World Peace will be suspended for the Los Angeles Lakers' final regular-season game Thursday at Sacramento and for six playoff games.
Harden was diagnosed with a concussion and under a new league policy concerning concussions will not be allowed to return to the court until he passes all stages of a comprehensive evaluation.
Harden did not play in the Thunder's 118-110 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday night and is not expected to play in tonight's regular-season finale against Denver at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Stern was asked if he considered the potential severity of Harden's injury and the possibility World Peace might return to action before Harden.
"I can't really say that I focused on it exactly that way," Stern said. "We have reason to believe that James will be available for the playoffs and we hope he will be, and we're very thankful that his injury was not more serious than it was. That's the extent of the consideration."
Formerly known as Ron Artest, World Peace now has three career bans of at least seven games. His 86-game suspension in 2004 for jumping into the stands and fighting fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills near Detroit is the longest non-drug-related suspension in league history.
Stern said World Peace's track record played a role in his decision.
"It's really very serious stuff and it does take into account the fact the perpetrator is who he is and has the record that he has," Stern said. "This called for, in our view, a very stiff penalty and we feel seven games … is such a stiff penalty."
Asked if he thought World Peace's elbow was intentionally thrown, Stern said: "I believe that it was recklessly thrown. I believe that in looking at the replays again and again that he should have known that James was up against him, and some have argued that he had to have known. But I can't be in his mind at that moment or what was overriding what, but the fact was under all the circumstances it was reckless and dangerous."