Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was suspended for one game after catching Detroit Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart with an elbow when the two teams met Sunday.
James served that suspension Tuesday and returned Wednesday evening, scoring 39 points in the Lakers' 124-116 win over the Indiana Pacers. After the game, he told reporters he didn't think he deserved to be suspended:
Michael J. Duarte @michaeljduarte
LeBron James said he tried to do a swim move to get Isaiah Stewart’s elbow/arm off of him and knew he hit him in the face right away and tried to apologize. “I’m not that kind of player. I didn’t think it warranted a suspension.” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lakers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lakers</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LakeShow?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LakeShow</a>
James' teammate, Anthony Davis, was also surprised by the suspension.
"I don't think anyone thought he was going to be suspended, to be honest. ... It was an accident. I mean, he accidentally hit [Stewart] in the face," he told reporters. "But I guess the report came out that his hit to the face caused an incident, which is weird because he can't control how a guy's gonna react. I mean, guys get hit in the face all the time, and we're saying that caused the incident?"
You can judge whether James deserved his suspension for yourself:
Stewart was irate after the elbow, repeatedly trying to get after James. It took multiple teammates, staffers and security guards to corral him.
Both players were ejected from the contest, and Stewart was suspended for two games.
Pistons head coach Dwane Casey defended the young big man after the game.
"I told him, 'Don't let this define who you are. It doesn't define your game whatsoever. Keep your head [up] and don't get a reputation afterward,'" he told reporters. "I feel for the young man because he's such a competitor and plays so hard. He's a great kid. He felt like he got a cheap shot across his brow. On the street, it would be a different story. It's no reflection on who Isaiah Stewart is whatsoever."