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LOS Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has been handed a one-game suspension without pay and Detroit Piston’s Isaiah Stewart a two-game suspension after an on-court incident on Sunday where a swing of James’ arm bloodied Stewart’s face, the National Basketball Association (NBA) said.
James was suspended for “recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation,” Byron Spruell, president of league operations, said in a statement on Monday.
Stewart, who plays center, escalated the situation by “repeatedly and aggressively pursuing” James, leading to his two-game suspension, Spruell said.
Stewart was assessed two technical fouls, James was assessed a flagrant foul penalty two, and both players were ejected from Sunday’s game, which the Lakers won 121-116.
Stewart will serve his suspensions on Tuesday, when the Pistons host the Miami Heat, and Wednesday, when Detroit takes on the Bucks in Milwaukee.
James will serve his suspension on Tuesday, when the Lakers visit the New York Knicks.
Earlier on Monday, The Athletic reported that James had sought to contact Stewart by phone after the game to apologize for striking him and to reiterate that it was not done intentionally.
The hit drew significant blood from Stewart’s forehead and he flew into a rage as he repeatedly tried to confront James.
Four-time NBA champion James, 36, is playing in his 19th NBA season and has only been ejected from one other game in his career, a November 2017 game against the Miami Heat. This is his first suspension.
Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said the 20-year-old Stewart received eight stitches to treat the wound. — Reuters