Stephen A. Smith: LeBron James started it, but Isaiah Stewart ‘completely out of control’

Detroit Free Press

The Isaiah Stewart meltdown after getting struck in the face by LeBron James was all over sports talk shows Monday morning.

The Detroit Pistons (4-12) blew a 17-point second-half lead in a 121-116 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers (9-9), but reaction and debate about the enraged Stewart running all over the Little Caesars Arena floor was front and center, as it should be.

Both Stewart and James were ejected from the game, and could face suspensions from the NBA, though Pistons coach Dwane Casey said postgame he didn’t think Stewart should get penalized.

Media personalities strongly disagree.

“He’s gotta be suspended,” Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN’s First Take on Monday. “I totally agree with Anthony Davis from the standpoint, he does not have a reputation as a dirty player, that’s not who LeBron James is. But that doesn’t mean that the play wasn’t dirty. You swung your elbow. And because you swung your elbow and it caused that kind of damage, that’s what sparked the incident.

“I don’t know much about Isaiah Stewart, respect his talent … he’s built like a middle linebacker. When he initially went up to LeBron James, he didn’t go up like that. But how he acted thereafter, I think he deserves to be suspended for multiple games. You cannot, you cannot act like that. He ran over numerous players, numerous coaches. I’m not talking about having to restrain him. He bulldozed over several dudes, including coaches who are obviously older men. He could have done harm to his teammates. We know he didn’t intend to do that. But because of the Malice at the Palace, look at what that caused. You had the league more stringent with rules and regulations. Rules have been extremely excessive to prevent anything close to that from happening. He looked completely out of of control. And then after that he storms into the locker room.”

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Smith was concerned for the safety of people on the court, saying Stewart was more in the wrong than James.

“(LeBron) knew he was wrong cause he swung his elbow. All of that extra stuff Isaiah Stewart did was completely uncalled for. He was out of control and you can’t have that. He was bulldozing over his own coaches. You don’t know how hurt you could have made one of them trying to restrain you. That was completely uncalled for and you can’t have that.”

Jay Williams disagreed, saying James’ offense was worse.

“LeBron James should be suspended two games for that,” the former Duke star and No. 2 pick in the 2002 NBA draft said. “When you box out, you always get low, the fact that his elbow was high and he raked down with a closed first, that’s a suspension in my opinion.

“When somebody is remorseful for something like that happening, what typically happens? Somebody has an accident. ‘Hey, are you OK? You all right, man, I didn’t mean that.’ Right? LeBron James is standing there looking at him with his arm out. I don’t know what was exchanged.”

Stewart got up and both players exchanged words, as Smith made the point it immediately looked like James was saying he made a mistake. But once all the players came together, Stewart then lost it.

“I’m OK with Isaiah being suspended, but he can’t be suspended the same amount of games LeBron James is suspended,” Williams said. “The fact that it caused a scene, it was initiated by LeBron in that moment and created the whole scenario for that to occur.”

“Everybody else came in, LeBron stepped back,” Smith said. “If LeBron hits him with the elbow and gets ejected from the game because of it, we say ‘LeBron got ejected.’ But the highlights can’t stop re-airing because of the scene Isaiah Stewart made.”

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