An unlikely debate has broken out after LeBron James’ elbow to Isaiah Stewart’s face led to a brawl between the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons. With the scuffle now in the past, it’s become a major talking point around the NBA. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believed that the fact that Stewart was so intent on fighting LeBron shows that he isn’t “feared” around the league.
“In my estimation, from the people that I’ve spoken to covering the league, [LeBron] has never been feared. … With LeBron, you believe you can take him. You believe he can be had,” Smith said on First Take.
There’s no history to suggest that LeBron is much of a fighter but he is 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds. Not exactly the smallest target to pick a fight with even if he has no idea how to throw a punch. While Smith is claiming that LeBron isn’t feared, many have come out in defense of the Lakers star, including former teammate Kendrick Perkins.
Perkins called Smith a liar and made it clear that LeBron is feared around the NBA.
Perkins played multiple seasons with LeBron when they were both in Cleveland so he’d know how other teams feel about him.
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J.J. Redick Defends LeBron
Perkins wasn’t the only one who strongly disagreed with Smith. J.J. Redick actually went after the analyst on First Take over the comments.
“I don’t know whether to believe that you believe what you’re saying,” Redick said. “That’s crazy.”
Smith tried to hold his own but Redick wasn’t letting him off easy.
“If you watch the game, which you do …” Smith said.
“I played the game,” Redick interrupted. “I played against LeBron in the playoffs. I played against him for 15 years.”
Obviously, Redick would have more insight into how players feel about LeBron around the league. They’ve never played on the same team but have been playing against each other for 15 years. Though LeBron isn’t one to pick fights with players, that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t feared.
Anthony Davis Didn’t Think LeBron Should Be Suspended
If Stewart hadn’t reacted to LeBron’s elbow the way that he did, this conversation wouldn’t be happening. The Lakers star was suspended for the first time in his career due to the flagrant 2 foul. However, Anthony Davis didn’t believe that what LeBron did warranted a suspension.
“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,” Davis said after Tuesday’s loss to the New York Knicks, via Sports Illustrated. “I mean guys get hit in 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.”
Regardless, LeBron has already served his suspension so there’s nothing the Lakers can do about it now.