On the recent road trip, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James found himself in an incident with Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart that eventually led to suspensions for both players.
James was served a one-game suspension while Stewart received two games. James eventually returned to lead the Lakers to a thrilling win over the Indiana Pacers, though he and Stewart will face off again on Sunday back at Staples Center.
Stewart was understandably upset after getting hit in the face that caused him to bleed, and when speaking on the incident for the first time, the big man reiterated he felt like it was intentional, via Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports:
“It’s going to be my last time addressing it. I watched the film. Me, personally, like I said, I didn’t feel like it was an accident. But this is my last time addressing it. My main focus right now is on my team and my teammates, getting back to playing basketball,. I’m not going to let that define who I am. I’m going to let what Detroit drafted me for define who I am, and the way I play basketball. I don’t want to address that no more and my main focus is on helping my teammates and coaches.”
James previously addressed the situation but this time he acknowledged that he is not going into their rematch considering it as a factor, and again emphasized that he did not hit Stewart in the face on purpose.
“No, I don’t go into the game and make it an individual thing,” James said. “I saw his comments today and he felt it was intentional or wasn’t an accident and I’ll go on the record again saying it was. The actual chop down was on purpose to get his arm off me, that part was on purpose. But the point of my hand hitting his face was not on purpose. You can literally go through numerous of plays in the NBA where guys are chopping down on guys’ arms or hands trying to get them off of them, and if you really look at the play closely, he kind of got off-balanced when I chopped down and that’s how his head went into my hand.
“So it wasn’t intentional at all, I’ve never been that player. I’ve never tried to seek a face contact like that, it’s just not part of my game or a part of basketball at all. But I don’t go into that game with any expectations besides us trying to come out victorious and get back to .500. That is the most important thing and that’s always been my mindset.”
The extra-curricular activity is surely going to be a talking point when the Lakers and Pistons face off again, though hopefully there is no incident this time around.
Vogel will continue to evaluate James at center
Against the Pacers, head coach Frank Vogel trotted a lineup with James at center that produced great results. Though Vogel sounded open to utilizing that lineup going further, he also acknowledged that he will be mindful of James’ workload.
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