Stewart tries to fight LeBron -- Arenas reacts
The Lakers superstar threw what seemed to be an intentional elbow while trying to box out the Pistons big man early in the third quarter. And while his teammates later stood in James' defense, saying "he isn't a dirty player," describing his move as "unintentional," judging by Stewart's reaction, the 20-year-old didn't see it that way.
With his face covered in blood, Isaiah tried to fight LeBron and had to be restrained by teammates and staff members multiple times, while the Little Caesars Arena announcer warned fans to remain in their seats. Both Stewart and James were ejected from the Lakers' 121-116 victory.
According to Anthony Davis, LeBron tried to apologize to Stewart right after throwing an elbow to his face, but the Pistons' second-year big lost his temper, prompting Detroit's biggest on-court incident since the infamous "Malice at The Palace." And while everyone agrees, LeBron's move was uncalled for, so were Stewart's antics. Gilbert Arenas called him out for it.
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"Hold me back"
Rudy Gobert said it best after his scuffle against Myles Turner a few days ago. "We weren't going to fight," he said. "Guys know that we aren't going to fight. In two seconds there are gonna be 20 security guys there. Guys who aren't about that life need to stop acting like they are."
It's clear Stewart wasn't going to fight LeBron. If he wanted to, he would've done something right there after the punch happened. Waiting for your teammates to get involved only to act tough afterward is doing nothing but creating another iteration of the "hold me back" moment. And we know those never escalate.
That still doesn't justify LeBron's elbow to Stewart's face. And Arenas is wrong to call the Pistons center out for his reaction, especially when he labels James as the NBA's untouchable. He made a dirty play, and Isaiah had every right to retaliate. But if it didn't happen right after the punch, it was never going to happen. Everything else was just an act.