The NBA announced the suspensions of LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart for their roles in an ugly incident during Sunday’s Lakers-Pistons game.
The incident happened in the third quarter, starting when James and Stewart were jostling for position during a free throw. Their arms appeared to get intertwined and James swung his elbow, making contact with Stewart, who quickly had blood streaming from above his eye. 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. Within 25 seconds of the contact being made by James, there were at least 25 people on the floor. Referee Phenizee Ransom attached himself to James.
Cooler heads seemed to prevail, for a moment. Stewart was guided away from the spot where the contact occurred by teammates and coaches, though he appeared to become more incensed along the way. 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.
James will not play 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 Wednesday at Milwaukee.
James will forfeit about $284,000 in salary, while Stewart will lose about $45,000. It is the first suspension in the 19-year career of James, who has won four NBA titles with three teams.