Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has been ejected from a game after delivering a brutal blow to the face of Detroit Pistons power forward Isaiah Stewart .
James was instantly ejected after his left elbow and fist struck Stewart during a Pistons free throw in the third quarter of Sunday night’s game at at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
NBA league officials will now review footage of the incident to determine whether fines or suspensions are in order, but because this is only James’ second career ejection, a suspension is unlikely.
After the blow, both benches flooded onto the court as Stewart and James engaged in a shoving and screaming match.
A furious Stewart was seen with blood streaming down his face, screaming obscenities as coaches and teammates held him back, and was also ejected after repeatedly charging at James.
Blood was streaming down Isaiah Stewart’s face after he took a hard blow from LeBron James on Sunday, sparking a benches-clearing brawl
LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers is ejected from the game during the third quarter of the game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday
Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons is restrained as he goes after LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers following an elbow to the face in Sunday’s game
Stewart, bleeding large amounts from around his right eye, grappled with teammates as he tried to charge at James
James and Stewart had to be separated multiple times, as the frantic game announcer ordered fans to remain in their seats and not attempt to join the scrum.
Footage from the game shows James slamming Stewart in the face with his left arm and fist as they grappled for position during a free throw.
Stewart drops to the court clutching his face, and James appears to acknowledge that play will have to stop, turning toward Stewart with his hand extended in an apparent gesture of apology.
A furious Stewart then charged at James, as teammates rushed to pull the two players apart.
Stewart, bleeding large amounts from around his right eye, grappled with teammates as he tried again and again to charge at James.
Coaches and referees tried in vain to hold Stewart back as he broke free repeatedly.
Head coach Dwane Casey of the Detroit Pistons and Cade Cunningham struggle to hold back Isaiah Stewart after he was struck by LeBron James
Coaches and referees tried in vain to hold Stewart back as he broke free again and again and tried to charge at James and exact his revenge
James walks off the court after being ejected from the game for the hit on Stewart
Finally, Stewart nodded his head and appeared to agree to head to the locker room, turning to walk toward the tunnel.
But it was a ruse, and Stewart again whirled and charged at James, sprinting up the court as coaches, players and refs hurled themselves at him, clinging to his arms.
Stewart was finally manhandled off the court, and sprinted up the tunnel to the locker room.
Both James and Stewart were ejected from the game by referees.
Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was also given a technical foul in the incident.
The Lakers won the game 121-116. In a post-game press conference, Lakers player Anthony Davis insisted that James had not intended to strike Stewart.
‘Stewart tried to defend LeBron, ‘Bron did the same thing. Everyone in the league knows ‘Bron not a dirty guy, he didn’t mean to hit him. As soon as he did, he looked back at him, told him “Oh, my bad, I didn’t try to do it,”‘ said Davis.
Davis slammed Stewart for his on-court antics following the blow to the face.
‘I’ve never, in 10 years, see a player try to do that, what he tried to do,’ he said.
‘It’s uncalled for, you got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn’t like it was on purpose,’ added Davis.
Piston’s Head Coach Dwane Casey said after the game that he had spoken to Stewart: ‘He was upset for a reason. I don’t think James is a dirty player, but again it got them going.’
Players separate Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, and Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, far right center, during Sunday’s game
A ref and coaches hold back Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart after he was hit
LeBron James looks on as he is ejected from the game during the third quarter of the game against the Detroit Pistons
A team spokesman said that James would not be addressing the media following his ejection.
Davis had 30 points, 10 rebounds and two big blocked shots late on Pistons 20-year-old rookie Cade Cunningham. Westbrook contributed 26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
After calm was restored on Sunday night, Detroit closed the third quarter strong and led 99-84 entering the fourth.
Westbrook and Davis both scored in double figures in the final quarter, leading a rally that gave the Lakers a win to reach .500 this season.
Detroit had the ball with 5.9 seconds left with the chance to potentially tie the game, but Hamidou Diallo turned the ball over and Davis made free throws to seal the victory.
James had 10 points and five assists in his second game back in the lineup. After missing eight games with an abdominal strain, he played Friday night in a 130-108 loss at Boston.
Though he is a polarizing figure, James does not have a reputation for dirty play, and has only been ejected from one other game in his 19-year career, for complaining about a non-foul call.
Because he does not have a track record of ejections, he is unlikely to face suspension for striking Stewart, experts say.
James was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul for the physical contact, which is more serious than a Flagrant 1 foul, but was not given any technical foul for his on-court behavior after play stopped.
Flagrant fouls come with two penalty points, and if he hit five penalty points this season James would face automatic suspension.
Stewart, on the other hand, is facing likely suspension for his behavior on the court after play stopped. All involved are likely to face fines.