LeBron James was taking a nap when the NBA announced he would be suspended for the first time in his 19-year career. James struck Isaiah Stewart in the face during Sunday’s game, which led to an extended altercation with Stewart escalating the situation as he discovered his face was bloodied.
“Rob [Pelinka] called me. I missed his call,” James told ESPN of the Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager dialing in the bad news. “As soon as when I checked my phone and it was a missed call, I was like, ‘I know I’m suspended.’
“I mean, it’s some bulls—. But whatever.”
James had to miss his only trip to Madison Square Garden this season.
“I was devastated,” James told ESPN. “It’s my favorite place in the world to play, so I was looking forward to it. But it is what it is.”
James detailed that explanation after the win over Indiana.
“There was a boxout on the free throw line. His elbow got kind of high, it got me — if you look, if you watch the film — it got me off balanced a little bit, and his elbow lifted my arm, and I basically tried to swim move, swim down on him, on his arm,” James said. “And when I swung down on his arm, he got off balance and the left side of my hand grazed his face. And I knew right away. So, I knew right away I had caught some part of his head. So, I went over to apologize to him, and obviously, you guys saw what happened after that. But definitely accidental.”
James also said his case was made stronger by how Russell Westbrook got a bloody lip in Tuesday’s game when hit by Quentin Grimes, and James was hit in the face by Domantas Sabonis, which required a bandage on his eyelid.