Tempers flare, LeBron James ejected after striking Isaiah Stewart in face

LeBron James was ejected for the second time in his career after hitting Isaiah Stewart in the face and participating in the ensuing scuffle.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was ejected from Sunday's game against the Detroit Pistons after he struck Isaiah Stewart in the face, an incident which led to an on-court altercation between the two teams that saw players have to be physically separated from one another.

Stewart was also ejected for his involvement.

"Everyone in the league knows that [LeBron James] isn’t a dirty guy," Anthony Davis, James' teammate on the Lakers, said after the game. "As soon as he did it, he looked back and told him, ‘My bad. I didn’t try to do it.’ I don’t know what [Isaiah Stewart] was trying to do. Nobody on our team, 1-15, was having it."

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 quickly got up and confronted James, with members of both teams gathering around the altercation in an attempt to keep them apart.

James and Stewart were separated briefly, standing on opposite sides of half court, before Stewart sought to confront James once more, charging through officials and players while trying to reach him.

The two would not interact again, however. Bleeding significantly, Stewart was restrained by personnel for the Pistons and escorted down the team's tunnel.

James was escorted off the floor too, ejected for just the second time in his NBA career.

The NBA has not said at this time if there will be supplemental discipline handed out to any of the players involved.

"The man got eight stitches -- whatever the number of stitches -- across his forehead, and I don't even know if he knew who hit him," Dwane Casey, the Pistons' head coach, said after the game. "He was upset. Blood running down his face. So I don't see any ramifications from the league from that standpoint, except for not leaving the court in time maybe and I thought that's why he got ejected out of the game so to me that's enough punishment."

James and Stewart weren't the only players assessed technical fouls for their part in the altercation. Lakers guard Russell Westbrook was given one too after the officials reviewed the play and the fallout from it.

"I didn't know I had a tech," Westbrook said after the game. "That's interesting. Well, that's just being Russell I guess. I don't know what I did, but whatever, they had to put it on somebody."

Scott Foster, one of the referees for the game, said that during the officials' review of events that they determined Westbrook was "an escalator and not a peace maker."

For some, the melee evoked memories of the Malice at the Palace night in 2004, when a cup was tossed from the stands in suburban Detroit and triggered perhaps the worst brawl in U.S. sports history between the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers -- one that spilled from the court and into the stands themselves.

During Sunday's game against the Lakers, Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton, both of whom played for the Pistons during that infamous game against the Pacers, were sitting courtside.

Davis praised players, coaches and security for keeping the peace and potentially averting a similar scenario to the one Wallace and Hamilton were part of.

"Everybody did a great job trying to deescalate the situation," Anthony said after the Lakers beat the Pistons 121-116. "You never want it to get to that point like 17 years ago."

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