Things got chippy between the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons during their game on Sunday as while fighting for a rebound on a free throw, LeBron James punched Isaiah Stewart in the face.
While James claimed that it was inadvertent, Stewart clearly didn’t feel that way as he immediately got in LeBron’s face. After the two were separated, with blood pouring down from Stewart’s face, he continuously tried to run at James to fight him, although to no avail with teammates and security holding him back.
Both players were ejected with James being given a Flagrant 2, while Stewart picked up two technical fouls for continuously trying to escalate the situation.
The Lakers, without James, were eventually able to erase a 17-point third-quarter deficit and beat the Pistons, so perhaps the altercation was a bit of a rallying call for the team.
Even though they won the game without him though, that doesn’t mean the Lakers want to be without their biggest star moving forward. Unfortunately though, James has been suspended one game for his actions, via Shams Charania of The Athletic:
LeBron James has been suspended one game and Isaiah Stewart receives two-game suspension for roles in altercation during Lakers-Pistons.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 22, 2021
Here is the explanation the league gave for James being suspended, which incredibly is the first of his 19-year career:
“LeBron James has been suspended one game without pay for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, President, League Operations.”
The NBA making this decision does not come as a huge surprise considering the NBA has made it a point to cut down on these types of altercations, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, Stewart also getting an extra game for escalating the situation also doesn’t come as a surprise.
“Isaiah Stewart has been suspended two games without pay for escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James in an unsportsmanlike manner,” the NBA said in its press release.
In James’ absence, the Lakers will take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, a game in which he typically enjoys playing.
L.A. has been without James for more than half the season to this point, showing mixed results, so it will be interesting to see how they come out on Tuesday night after responding to his ejection really well against the Pistons.
Vogel explains his perspective of situation
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was among those trying to deescalate the altercation while it was happening, so he gave his perspective on what happened.
“It was unfortunate contact,” Vogel explained. “LeBron was just trying to get the elbow off his rib cage which was a foul, he was trying to shed the contact and that incidental contact was obviously enough for a Flagrant 2. The reaction was what it was and I think our guys did a good job protecting our teammates but not trying to escalate. That’s what you want from our peacekeepers in those situations and for the most part I feel like our guys did that while trying to form a wall around a teammate. Standing up for each other without trying to turn it into sometime uglier, so I commend our guys for that.”
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