The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James was given a one-game suspension and Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart was given a two-match suspension for their roles in an ugly incident during Sunday’s game against the Lakers-Pistons.
The NBA announced the suspensions on Monday, and both will affect Tuesday’s games. James will not be competing when the Lakers visit Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks. Stewart will miss the Pistons’ home game against Miami on Tuesday and their game on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
James will lose about $284,000 in salary, while Stewart will lose about $45,000. It was the first suspension of a 19-year career for James, who has won four NBA championships with three teams.
The Lakers and Pistons meet again Sunday in Los Angeles, and James and Stewart will both qualify.
Stewart, the NBA said, was disciplined for “escalating a melee on the field with constant and aggressive pursuit… James in an unsportsmanlike manner.” James was given a suspension “for carelessly hitting Stewart in the face and starting a melee on the field,” the NBA said.
The incident occurred in the third half, which began when James and Stewart were vying for a place on a free throw. Their arms seemed to intertwine and James swung his elbow, making contact with Stewart, who quickly had blood seeping out of his eyes. James, it appears, tries to defuse the situation after realizing he has been exposed to Stewart and shed blood.
It didn’t take long for most players from both teams – along with the referee, coach and security staff – to join the fray and try to keep James and Stewart separate. Within 25 seconds of James’ contact, there were at least 25 people on the floor. Referee Phenizee Ransom with James.
Cooler heads seem to prevail for a moment. Stewart was instructed by teammates and coaches to leave the site of the collision, although he appeared to become more heated along the way. Then he tries to double – several times – and run towards James. Some again blocked his way and made sure the case didn’t get worse.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Stewart needed eight stitches to close the wound, adding that he didn’t think Stewart did anything in response to the play’s suspension.
Casey said: “His eye was completely cracked. He’s sad for a reason.
Stewart eventually got off the floor, seemingly going to sprint again once he did, and there was concern that he would attempt to get back onto the floor through another lead-in tunnel. Pistons guard Cory Joseph even headed towards that tunnel, just in case – and with the blessing of referee Scott Foster, the game’s chief of staff.
“After Isaiah Stewart left the field, Cory predicted that he could go around the back (of the house) and step onto the Laker’s bench from the opposite side,” Foster told a pool reporter after the game. . “So he’s going to block him. I actually told Cory that would be good.”
Stewart was hit for two technical fouls, James was penalized for two gross fouls and both players were sent off.
James has been fined by the federation multiple times in the past, receiving fines for everything from messing around, skipping press conferences and kicking water bottles. But the suspension is his first, and means he will miss the Lakers’ only game of the season at Madison Square Garden – one of his favorite arenas.