After 1,318 appearances in the regular season and in his 19th season, LeBron James has been suspended for the first time in his career, according to Associated Press.
James, of the Los Angeles Lakers, has been suspended for one game, while Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart has been suspended for two games following an incident in Sunday’s Lakers and Pistons game. The NBA announced their penalties on Monday.
While fighting for the position on a rebound after a free throw, James’ elbow hit Stewart over the eye, opening an incision that made Stewart bleed. Stewart stood up and bumped his chest with James before several other players from the field, referees and members of both teams came from the sidelines to get between the two. After the initial separation, Stewart tried to chase after James several times, breaking away from teammates and coaches to do so.
James misses the Lakers game on Tuesday against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, which costs him about $ 284,000 in salary. Stewart will miss a home game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday and an away game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, saving the sophomore about $ 45,000 in salary.
According to the NBA statement, Stewart was suspended for “escalating an altercation on the court by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing … James in an unsportsmanlike manner.” James’ suspension was for “ruthlessly slapping Stewart in the face and initiating an argument in court.”
The Lakers and Pistons play again Sunday in Los Angeles. Both James and Stewart will be eligible to play.
For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.
Within 25 seconds of the contact being taken by James, there were at least 25 people on the floor. Judge Phenizee Ransom joined James.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Stewart needed eight stitches to close the wound, adding that he did not think what Stewart did in response to the game deserved a suspension.
“His eye was torn completely open. He was sad for a reason,” Casey said.
Stewart eventually left the floor and appeared to be sprinting again as he did so, and there was concern that he would try to walk back toward the floor through another entrance tunnel. Piston’s guard Cory Joseph even walked towards that tunnel, just in case – and with the blessing of referee Scott Foster, the game’s crew chief.
“After Isaiah Stewart left the field, Cory expected him to be able to get around the back of (the house) and get on the Laker bench from the opposite side,” Foster told a pool reporter after the game. “So he would intercept him. I actually told Cory it would be good.”
Stewart was assessed two technical fouls, James was assessed a flagrant foul penalty 2, and both players were expelled.
James has been sanctioned several times by the league in the past and has received fines for everything from flopping, skipping news conferences and kicking 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.