LeBron James will serve a one-game suspension after striking Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face while boxing out for a rebound, the NBA announced Monday. Stewart has been suspended for two games for charging back at James several times.
This reportedly marks the first suspension for James in his 19-year career and comes one day after both players were ejected in the third quarter of the Lakers 121-116 win against the Pistons on Sunday.
Both players were trying to secure a position for a rebound. As Stewart pushed James, James swung his arm and struck Stewart, bloodying his eye. James reached out his arm, apparently trying to make amends, but Stewart attempted to confront him, causing players, coaches, and security to break up a potential fight.
The league said Stewart, 20, was suspended for "escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing" James "in an unsportsmanlike manner." While James, 36, was suspended "for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation."
Russell Westbrook was given a technical foul for running towards the fight with his fists raised. After the game, Lakers star Anthony Davis defended James.
"Everyone in the league knows LeBron not a dirty guy. As soon as he did it, he looked back at him, telling him, 'My bad I didn't try to do it,'" Davis told reporters.
James will sit out the Lakers game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Stewart will be forced to sit out the Pistons' matchups against the Miami Heat on Tuesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
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