In the aftermath of the Lakers-Pistons incident that saw each player suspended, James is calling the elbow that sparked the event an accident while Stewart disagrees.
"I watched the film. Me, personally, like I said, I didn't feel like it was an accident," said Stewart following a 107-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Friday. "This is my last time addressing it."
I asked Isaiah Stewart about the incident with LeBron James. This is the first time he publicly addressed it — and he said it’s gonna be his last. pic.twitter.com/jLP7xsCWZt
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) November 26, 2021
The incident began when James and Stewart were lined up next to one another while Pistons forward Jerami Grant took a free throw in the third quarter. As James and Stewart fought for positioning after the shot was released, James swiped at Stewart forcefully with his left hand, hitting him in the head and leaving him bloody.
Stewart fell to the court but proceeded to repeatedly attempt to confront James in an aggressive manner, forcing several players and staff to hold him back.
James was suspended one game for "for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation," the NBA said, while Stewart was suspended two games for "escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing James in an unsportsmanlike manner."
When asked about the suspension and the elbow on Wednesday, James came to his own defence.
"Definitely an accident," he said, after describing the sequence of events that led to his elbow connecting with Stewart's face. "I thought it warranted an ejection because of what happened after that ... but a suspension I didn't think was warranted."
James also said he tried to reach out to Stewart after Sunday's game.
It was only the second time James had been ejected in his 19-season career, and only the first time he received a suspension. On Tuesday, his co-star Anthony Davis spoke out against it.
"I was surprised. I mean, I didn’t think he would get suspended. 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," said Davis.
"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 the face all the time, and we’re saying that caused the incident. I get hit in my face probably more than anyone, and if I go off and do all that, the other guy who hit me in the face is gonna get suspended as well? It was strange. But there’s nothing we can do about it."
Both James and Stewart have finished serving their suspensions, and just as fate would have it the Lakers play the Pistons in a rematch Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE.