LeBron James was ejected from the Los Angeles Lakers-Detroit Pistons game after he delivered a brutal blow to the face of Isaiah Stewart face when they fought for a rebound on Sunday night. Shocking video shows James' left elbow making contact with Stewart's neck and face that left him bloodied as he fell on the court.
James was immediately ejected but not before a brawl broke out at the center of the court. As blood oozed out of Stewart's face, he had to be held back multiple times by Detroit personnel as he tried to confront James.
Blood on the Court
The incident occurred with 9:18 minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Lakers trailing 79-67. Stewart was initially whistled for a loose ball foul on the play. Video from the game shows James slamming Stewart in the face with his left arm and fist as they grappled for position during a free throw.
James was instantly ejected out of the game but not before engaging in a bloody flight with Stewart in the middle of the court. A furious Stewart after being hit was seen with blood streaming down his face, screaming obscenities as coaches and teammates held him back.
James and Stewart had to be separated multiple times, as the frantic game announcer ordered fans to remain in their seats and not attempt to join the scrum. Stewart too was ejected after repeatedly charging at James.
James and Stewart were not made available for comment after the game. Anthony Davis of the Lakers praised players, coaches and Pistons security for keeping the peace.
"Everybody did a great job trying to deescalate the situation," Davis said after the Lakers beat the Pistons 121-116. "You never want it to get to that point like 17 years ago."
Not like Sportsmen
After the game, crew chief Scott Foster said Westbrook was deemed to be "an escalator and not a peacemaker" as the reason for the technical foul. Foster also said Stewart was assessed two technical fouls for "multiple unsportsmanlike acts during the altercation." Foster explained that James' penalty stemmed from "unnecessary and excessive contact above the shoulder."
In a post-game press conference, Lakers player Anthony Davis insisted that James had not intended to strike Stewart.
"Stewart tried to defend LeBron, 'Bron did the same thing. Everyone in the league knows 'Bron not a dirty guy, he didn't mean to hit him. As soon as he did, he looked back at him, told him 'Oh, my bad, I didn't try to do it,'" said Davis.
Davis slammed Stewart for his on-court antics following the blow to the face.
The ejection was just the second of James' 19-year career. The first came on November 28, 2017, when James' Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Miami Heat.
That said, after calm was restored on Sunday night, Detroit closed the third quarter strong and led 99-84 entering the fourth. Westbrook and Davis both scored in double figures in the final quarter, leading a rally that gave the Lakers a win to reach .500 this season.
Detroit had the ball with 5.9 seconds left with the chance to potentially tie the game, but Hamidou Diallo turned the ball over and Davis made free throws to seal the victory.
James had 10 points and five assists in his second game back in the lineup. After missing eight games with an abdominal strain, he played on Friday night in a 130-108 loss at Boston.