LeBron James already attracts a ton of negative attention for reasons related to his dominance in the league, and that will surely increase after the events that unfolded over the weekend. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar nearly came to blows with Detroit Pistons player Isaiah Stewart, and many across #NBATwitter thought this was going to be Malice In The Palace part two.
The Lake Show was in Motor City on Sunday (November 21) to take on the Pistons at Little Ceasars Arena when the skirmish happened. As seen on ESPN, Stewart was hit with a loose ball foul call and caught what has been explained as an accidental elbow from James, causing blood to stream down the right side of Stewart’s face. Video of the incident shows that James actually tried to make sure Stewart wasn’t hurt before resuming play on defense but the game was stopped after it was clear that something physical occurred.
Stewart and James exchanged words and the benches cleared on both sides, and suddenly, Stewart became enraged as James walked off. Several Pistons players and coaches, including Cade Cunningham, tried their best to settle Stewart down to no avail. Russell Westbrook was also deep in the mix and ready to rumble, and both sides clearly looked prepared to do battle on the court.
James was given a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected from the game and Stewart was hit with two technical fouls and automatically ejected. Westbrook also amassed a technical foul.
At this point of the game, the Lakers were training 79-67 with 9:18 to go in the third quarter. The Lakers, who have been struggling of late, went on the beat the Pistons 121-116. It was just the second ejection in James nearly two-decade career, and he’s never had the reputation for dirty or rough play.
Still, critics of James sense the chum in the water, most notably Skip Bayless and others, and the reaction to the moment has been almost trained primarily on the Lakers captain and not the actions of Stewart.
The incident on Sunday was reminiscent of the Malice In The Palace debacle, which occurred on November 19, 2004. The fight that broke out between the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers left shockwaves throughout the league, and a recent documentary examines the happenings of that fateful day in detail. Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, and eight other players faced suspension, lost pay, and the reputation of being troublemakers.
We’ve also concluded that the negative chatter against James ramped up after he was critical of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, prompting a certain segment of Twitter to try and paint James in an even worse light.
We’ve got all the reactions below.