LeBron James was suspended for one game and Isaiah Stewart of Detroit was suspended for two for their roles in a nasty showdown in Sunday’s Lakers-Pistons game.
The incident occurred in the third quarter, when James and Stewart were arguing for position on a free throw. Their arms seemed to intertwine and James swung his elbow, making contact with Stewart, who soon had blood streaming over his eyes. James, it seems, tried to defuse the situation after realizing he had contacted Stewart and drawn blood.
It didn’t take long for most of the players from both teams as well as the referees, coaches and security staff to join the fray and try to keep James and Stewart apart. Within a minute of contact made by James, there were at least 25 people on the floor. Referee Phenizee Ransom has become attached to James.
Cooler heads seemed to prevail, for a moment. Stewart was guided away from where the contact occurred by teammates and coaches, although he appeared to get angrier along the way. He then tried to go back several times and run towards James. A number of people blocked her path again and made sure the incident did not escalate.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Stewart needed eight stitches to heal the wound, adding that he didn’t think what Stewart had done in reaction to the game deserved a suspension.
“His eye opened completely. He was upset for a reason, ”Casey said.
Stewart eventually got off the ground, appearing to sprint again as he did, and there were concerns that he would try to return to the ground through another entrance tunnel. Pistons goalie Cory Joseph made his way to the tunnel with the blessing of referee Scott Foster, the team manager of the game.
“After Isaiah Stewart left court, Cory expected him to come back to the back of [the] home and enter the Laker’s bench on the opposite side, ”Foster said after the game. “So he was going to intercept it. I actually told Cory it would be nice.
Stewart received two technical fouls, James received a flagrant foul 2 and both players were sent off.
Stewart, the NBA said, was sanctioned for “escalating an altercation on the field by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing … James in an unsportsmanlike manner.” James earned the suspension “for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and starting an argument on the field,” the NBA said.
James will lose around $ 284,000 in salary, while Stewart will lose around $ 45,000. This is the first suspension in a 19-year career for James, who has won four NBA titles with three teams. James has been sanctioned several times by the league in the past, fined for everything from flopping, skipping press conferences and kicking a water bottle.
The NBA announced the suspensions on Monday, and both will affect games on Tuesday. James will not be playing when the Lakers visit Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks. Stewart will miss the Pistons’ home game against Miami on Tuesday and their game in Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Lakers and Pistons meet in Los Angeles on Sunday, and James and Stewart will both be eligible to play.