LeBron James was ejected on Sunday after bloodying Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the third quarter. Stewart had to be held back by Pistons staff and teammates, breaking away to come after James several times while blood streamed down his face.
James was ejected for his role in the fracas, hit with a flagrant-2 foul, while Stewart was called for a loose ball foul, though ended up ejected himself after his blowup. Russell Westbrook also received a technical foul according to CBS Sports, though the Lakers still held on to win the game.
LeBron and Isaiah Stewart get into it 😳— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 22, 2021
Stewart was left incensed by the strike from James and likely gave many in attendance memories of the infamous Malice at the Palace incident from 2004 between Ron Artest with the Indiana Pacers and almost everybody in Detroit at one point. It is known as the worst brawl in NBA history, with Artest and Stephen Jackson running into the stands to confront fans after being hit with a drink cup on the court after a scuffle with Ben Wallace.
The PA announcers at the arena were quick to tell fans to stay in their seats and not get involved, likely keeping the 2004 incident fresh in mind. Luckily the anger remained on the court and the game was able to continue. Stewart did need to be forcibly restrained even after leaving the court, with Lakers players being warned that he could still make his way to the opposing locker room.
LeBron has been ejected after this flagrant 2 foul pic.twitter.com/CLbr3h6Zrz— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 22, 2021
This is only James' second ejection of his career. According to CBS Sports, he was ejected in 2017 after arguing a call with an official. This latest ejection could also lead to a suspension for James, which will put the struggling Lakers at an early season disadvantage. It also raises the question about what we didn't see on the court during Space Jam: A New Beginning earlier in the summer.
The punch, clearly a closed fist may not have entirely been intentional, but the movement and contact in general was definitely intentional to Brad Botkin at CBS Sports. It is an almost certain suspension for the Lakers star, but the question is how long will it last. He adds that a similar incident from the 2015 playoffs saw J.R. Smith suspended for two games after connecting with Celtics player Jae Crowder in his face.