LeBron James Says Of His Suspension After Hard Foul And Melee: “I Didn’t Think It Was Warranted”
After that first game since his suspension from the NBA for a blow he dealt Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face while the two were struggling to rebound, Lakers superstar LeBron James brought up the incident. (James and Stewart were banned from the competition on Sunday, and James was later banned from one game and Stewart two games.)
"I think it warranted being expelled for what might have happened afterwards," James said tonight. "You know, with me still in the game and the excitement of the fans and what could happen afterwards, of course, but I didn't think a suspension was justified."
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The incident became the talking point on sports radio and fodder for an entire cycle of news on ESPN, with the network's biggest star, Stephen A. Smith, creating his own whirlwind with comments on James. The suspension also removed the NBA marquee star from a nationally televised matchup on Tuesday night on TNT between the Lakers and the New York Knicks, the premier teams in the country's two largest television markets.
Describing the incident with Stewart from his own perspective, James said that he was “a little off balance and his elbow was lifting my arm ... and I was basically trying to swing on top of him, on his arm. And when I swing on his arm, he was unbalanced and my palm brushed his face. "
"I knew right away that I had caught part of his head, so I went to apologize to him and of course you see what happened after that."
The Lakers star said the strike was "definitely random ... just like Sabonis' game tonight".
That was a reference to Indiana Pacers Center Domantas Sabonis, with whom James spent much of Wednesday evening pounding bodies under the basket. As he spoke, James made his point of view on Sabonis clear with a gesture in the direction of a butterfly bandage on a cut above his own right eye: "Accidentally hitting the eye."
"I'm definitely not that type of player," he continued. "I hate to see that and whatever happened after that."
"Whatever happened after" was a hand-to-hand combat in which an angry Stewart repeatedly tried to force his way through the umpires, teammates and coaches trying to hold him back and get on James.
Players from both banks soon became involved, taking turns trying to stifle and engage in the conflict.
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