LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers has been suspended for one game and Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart was suspended two games for their roles in an ugly incident during Sunday’s Lakers-Pistons game.
NBA officials announced Monday that the suspensions would affect Tuesday’s games. James will be absent from the Lakers’ visit to Madison Square Garden, where they play the New York Knicks. Stewart will miss the Pistons’ home game against Miami on Tuesday and their game Wednesday at Milwaukee.
James will have to forfeit approximately $284,000 and Stewart, $45,000 respectively. James has been a four-time NBA champion and three times with the same team for 19 years. This will be his first suspension.
Los Angeles: The Pistons and Lakers will meet up again Sunday. James and Stewart are both eligible to play.
Stewart, the NBA said, was disciplined for “escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing … James in an unsportsmanlike manner.” James merited the suspension “for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation,” the NBA said.
The incident happened in the third quarter, starting when Stewart and James jostled for position in a free-throw. James and Stewart appeared to be tangled in their arms. James then swung his elbow towards Stewart, making contact. Stewart quickly noticed that blood was streaming above his eyes. James, it appeared, attempted to defuse the situation after realizing he’d made contact with Stewart and drawn blood.
It didn’t take long for most of the players from both teams — along with the referees, coaches and security personnel — to join the fray and try to keep James and Stewart separated. James made contact with Stewart within 25 seconds. There were 25 players on the floor. Referee Phenizee ransom joined James.
The cooler head seemed to win for a while. While Stewart seemed to get more upset as he went along, teammates and coaches guided him away from where the contact took place. He then tried to double back — on multiple occasions — and run toward James. A number of people again blocked his path and made sure the incident didn’t get uglier.
Dwane casey, the Pistons’ coach said Stewart required eight stitches to heal the wound and that Stewart didn’t deserve a suspension for his reaction.
“His eye got cracked all the way open. He was upset for a reason,” Casey said.
Stewart left the ground, appearing to run again, and there were concerns that Stewart might try to get back to the floor by entering another tunnel. Pistons guard Cory Joseph even headed toward that tunnel, just in case — and with the blessing of referee Scott Foster, the game’s crew chief.
“After Isaiah Stewart left the court, Cory was anticipating he may come around the back of (the) house and enter the Laker bench from the opposite side,” Foster told a pool reporter after the game. “So, he was going to intercept him. I actually told Cory that would be good.”
Stewart received two technical fouls and James, a Flagrant Fol Penalty 2 was given. Both players were then ejected.
James was sanctioned by the league multiple times in the past. He has received fines for anything from flipping, skipping news conferences, and kickin’ a water bottle. But the suspension is his first, and means he will miss the Lakers’ lone game this season at Madison Square Garden — one of his favorite arenas.