Lakers' LeBron James suspended one game for Pistons incident, could return against Pacers

James Boyd
Indianapolis Star

Lakers superstar LeBron James and Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart have been suspended for one and two games, respectively, after getting into an altercation Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena, the NBA announced Monday. Both players were ejected Sunday.

James, who is serving the first suspension of his 19-year career, will be sidelined when the Lakers face the Knicks on the road Tuesday, but he could return Wednesday when the Pacers host Los Angeles at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) goes up high to dunk the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 15, 2021.

James bloodied Stewart in the third quarter Sunday as both players were jockeying for position during a made free throw by Pistons forward Jerami Grant. Stewart pushed his right forearm into James' side, and James took exception and retaliated by hitting Stewart in the face with the side of his close-fisted left hand.

The blow opened a cut near Stewart's right eye that had blood streaming down his face. It required eight stiches to close, per The Athletic's James Edwards III.

Moments after James struck Stewart, the two players came face to face before being separated by officials, teammates and coaches. After being pulled away from each other, Stewart was clearly not finished as he tried to rush James and the Lakers on three separate occasions. During the last one, Stewart played possum as he headed toward Detroit's locker room before breaking free one last time and running three quarters of the court to try to get to James and the Lakers before being restrained yet again, mainly by teammate and 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.

The Lakers eventually won the game 121-116.

Sunday's matinee was almost 17 years to the day of the Malice at the Palace, which happened Nov. 19, 2004, between the Pistons and the Pacers. It remains one of the most infamous moments in league history as an initial dustup between Indiana forward Metta Sandiford-Artest (then Ron Artest) and Detroit center Ben Wallace boiled over into an all out brawl between players and fans.

Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: jboyd1@gannett.com.