Pistons' Isaiah Stewart suspended 2 games, LeBron James banned for 1, after altercation
Detroit — Following Sunday’s altercation between the Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart and Lakers superstar LeBron James, the NBA league office issued its punishments for the incident that made the rounds on highlight reels and national sports-talk shows.
Stewart was suspended without pay for two games and James for one game for their involvement.
The league office noted that Stewart, who took an elbow and fist to the face from James, cited that Stewart was suspended “for escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James in an unsportsmanlike manner,” Byron Spruell, president of NBA League Operations, announced Monday evening in a statement.
The referees assessed Stewart two technical fouls for his extended involvement in the incident. James was not whistled for anything initially, but after video review, he was given a flagrant-2 foul, which includes an automatic ejection.
In his repeated attempts to get to James, Stewart had to be restrained by several teammates, coaches and security personnel. He looked to be calm for a moment, then raced toward the middle of the court again to try to get to James.
James’ one-game suspension comes “for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation,” the league statement said. According to reports, James reached out to try to get in contact with Stewart to apologize and smooth things over.
The two teams will play on Sunday at Staples Center in Los Angeles for the final time in the regular season.
Stewart will miss Tuesday’s home game against the Miami Heat and Wednesday’s matchup at the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. James will sit out Tuesday’s nationally televised game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Sunday’s incident began at the 9:18 mark of the third quarter when James and Stewart became entangled while going after a missed free throw. James appeared to strike Stewart’s face with an elbow and a closed fist in one fell swoop, but Stewart was whistled for a loose-ball foul on the play.
Stewart approached James after the play and the two were separated initially, but things escalated seemingly after the blood started gushing from Stewart’s right eye. He made a couple of rushes at center court, getting by his teammates and coaches before he was finally held back and calmed down.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Sunday that he believed that Stewart shouldn’t be punished beyond the technical fouls and the ejection.
“He shouldn't be facing anything (from the league). Not getting off the court in time ... the league will have to decide that, but the man got eight stitches — or whatever the number of stitches is — across his forehead and I don't even know if he knew who had hit him,” Casey said. “He was upset and blood running down his face. I don't see any ramifications from the league from that standpoint, except from just not leaving the court in time, maybe. I thought that's why he got ejected out of the game, so to me, that's enough punishment.”
The Lakers won the game, 121-116.