Artest suspended one game
Kings forward elbowed Ginobili
Suspensions are nothing new to Artest, who missed 73 games and the playoffs last season after the infamous brawl in Detroit. (AP Photo)
SAN ANTONIO -- Ron Artest's reputation might have caught up to him at a terrible time for the Sacramento Kings.
The NBA suspended Artest yesterday for Game 2 of the Kings' first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.
Stu Jackson, the league's top disciplinarian, said Artest's elbow to Manu Ginobili's head in the series opener was egregious enough to warrant another suspension for the man who missed 73 games and the playoffs last season after one of the most infamous brawls in sports history.
But after their difficult playoff task got exponentially harder, the Kings suggested Artest was punished simply for being Ron Artest, possibly the most notorious player of his generation.
''You know with Ron's questionable past, they're going to look for a way to get him," said Bonzi Wells.
The one-game suspension caught both Artest's teammates and the Spurs completely by surprise, because neither club thought the personal foul was even worthy of postgame comment, much less a suspension nearly 48 hours after the fact.
Artest was at the AT&T Center for practice yesterday, but the focal point of Sacramento's midseason turnaround won't be in uniform tonight for Game 2.
''I talked to Stu Jackson, which was encouraging," Artest said in a brief, apologetic statement after his usual post-practice shooting workout. ''There have been a lot of things that have happened in my career which [were] unfair. I support my teammates, and hopefully they'll win the game."
The league cited Artest for his foul on Ginobili in the third quarter of the Spurs' 122-88 victory. Ginobili caught Artest's elbow in his jaw while attempting to run through the lane, and the Argentine star fell to the ground as Artest got a personal foul.
Though Spurs coach Gregg Popovich jumped off the bench to argue for a flagrant foul, Ginobili got right back up, and the game continued. Afterward, Ginobili said he wasn't injured on the play and didn't consider it particularly serious, while Popovich said he had no problem with Artest's aggressive style of play.
Artest was injured on the game's opening possession when Ginobili inadvertently elbowed him hard in the face while driving to the hoop. Artest's feet flew out from under him, and he stayed down for several moments before jogging around the court in pain from a cut that required three stitches to close.