LeBron James has maintained the contact he made with Isaiah Stewart that left the Pistons big man bloodied and enraged was accidental.
Stewart thinks otherwise, which he shared in his first comments to the media following his scuffle with the Los Angeles Lakers star.
“This is going to be my last time addressing it. I watched the film, me personally, I don’t feel like that was an accident,” Stewart told reporters on Friday. “My main focus right now is on my team, my teammates and getting back to playing basketball. I’m not going to let that define who I am. I’m going to let what Detroit drafted me for define who I am and the way I play basketball. I don’t want to address that no more. My main focus is on helping my teammates and coaches.”
Pistons Have Had Stewart’s Back Following Incident
Stewart received a two-game suspension for his role in the incident with James, who got just a one-game ban. It’s clear the Pistons still have Stewart’s back and want him to grow from the situation.
“Isaiah is no where near what you saw in the video. I think if you put nine men in that same situation, they probably would’ve reacted — right, wrong or indifferent — in the same manner. Maybe not as extended as Isaiah took it, which was unfortunate,” Pistons coach Dwayne Casey said. “Great kid, young man. The kind of kid you want to take home to your family. Again, that was not a portrait of who he is as a man. Love him. He’s a part of our family. And for us, that’s in the rearview mirror.”
Stewart was a first-round pick in the 2020 draft and has shown some solid upside. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 7.1 rebounds this season, playing nearly 24 minutes per game.
LeBron James Called His Suspension ‘Bulls–t’
It was the first suspension of James’ career, which has spanned nearly two decades. The four-time MVP wasn’t too happy with the league’s decision to put him on the shelf for a game.
“I mean, it’s some bulls—. But whatever,” James told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
James maintains that the contact was accidental, although his apology went unnoticed when Stewart — who received a two-game ban — went crazy trying to start a fight.
“There was a boxout on the free throw line. His elbow got kind of high, it got me — if you look, if you watch the film — it got me off balanced a little bit, and his elbow lifted my arm, and I basically tried to swim move, swim down on him, on his arm,” James told reporters. “And when I swung down on his arm, he got off balance and the left side of my hand grazed his face. And I knew right away. So, I knew right away I had caught some part of his head. So, I went over to apologize to him, and obviously, you guys saw what happened after that. But definitely accidental.”
The Pistons and Lakers face off Sunday, which will give James and Stewart a chance to resolve their differences.