It has been nearly a week since the altercation between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart during the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons matchup, but the two players are still exchanging opinions on what transpired. After Stewart maintained his belief that James hit him in the face intentionally, the Lakers star continued to maintain that it was accidental. James also discussed the Lakers’ upcoming November 28 rematch with the Pistons, emphasizing that he does not expect anything out of the ordinary.
“I don’t go into a game and make it an individual thing,” James detailed during his November 26 press conference. “I saw his comments today and he felt it was intentional or wasn’t an accident, going [on the] record again saying it was. The actual chop down was on purpose to get his arm off of me. That part was on purpose but the point of my hand hitting his face was not on purpose. You can literally go through numerous of plays in the NBA where guys are chopping down on guys’ arms or hands trying to get them off of them. And if you really look at the play closely, he kind of got off balance when I chopped down and that’s how his head went into my hand.
“So, it wasn’t intentional at all. I’ve never been that player. I’ve never ever tried to seek a face contact like that. It’s just not a part of my game or a part of basketball at all, so. But I don’t go into that game with any expectation besides us trying to come out victorious and get back to .500. That is the most important thing and that’s always been my mindset.”
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Stewart: ‘I Didn’t Feel Like It Was an Accident’
Stewart has been silent since the incident but briefly addressed it for the “last time.” The Pistons big man continues to maintain that James hit him in the face intentionally.
“This is going to be my last time addressing it, I watched the film, me personally, like I said, I didn’t feel like it was an accident,” Stewart told reporters on November 26. “But this is my last time addressing it, my main focus right now is on my team and my teammates and getting back to playing basketball. I’m not going to let that define who I am. I am 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.”
LeBron on Suspension: ‘I Didn’t Think It Was Warranted’
Not only did James emphasize he did not intentionally strike Stewart, the Lakers star disagreed with the NBA’s decision to suspend him for one game. James did concede that the officials were correct to eject him after the play.
“I hate to see that, well, what escalated after that, and I didn’t think it warranted [a suspension],” James noted during a November 24 press conference. “I thought [it] warranted an ejection because of what happened after that. Having me probably still in the game and excitement from the fans and what could possibly happen after that, obviously. But a suspension, I didn’t think it was warranted, but the league made that call and we’re here today.”