LeBron James was not happy with the NBA for suspending him following a dust-up with Detroit Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart, sounding off Wednesday following the Los Angeles Lakers victory against the Pacers.
The suspension was the first of James’ storied career, sidelining him for the Lakers’ matchup against the Knicks on Tuesday.
“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.”
James said he was especially pissed off because he missed his only trip to play at Madison Square Garden this season.
“I was devastated,” James said. “It’s my favorite place in the world to play, so I was looking forward to it. But it is what it is.”
James’ Teammates Disagreed with Ban as Well
While many expected the league to jump in with some kind of punishment, it still caught some members of the Lakers off guard.
“I was surprised,” Anthony Davis said on Tuesday. “I mean, I didn’t think he would get suspended. I don’t think anyone thought he was going to be suspended, to be honest. It was an accident. He accidentally hit him in the face. But I guess the report came out and said that his hit to the face caused the incident, which is weird because he can’t control how a guy is going to react.
“Guys get hit in the face all the time,” Davis added. “If we’re saying that caused the incident, I get hit in my face probably more than anyone. If I go off and do all that, the guy who hit me in the face gets suspended as well? It was strange, but nothing we can do about it. Be ready to go tomorrow.”
The one-game suspension cost James $284,004 in salary and the Lakers lost the matchup against the Knicks, 106-100.
James Explodes in Return to Lead Lakers to Win
James took out some frustration when he got back on the court on Wednesday, leading the Lakers to a 124-116 victory in overtime against the Pacers. James scored 39 points against Indiana, adding six assists and five rebounds.
“What LeBron did tonight was just a performance for the ages,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I know these fans and how much they love their hoops here in Indianapolis. And he put on one hell of a show, and obviously, he gets the game ball.”
The Lakers are currently 10-10 but get to return home on Friday after a five-game road trip.