LeBron James returns to court on Wednesday after serving his first career suspension. The Los Angeles Lakers forward drew blood on Sunday when he boxed out Detroit Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart. What some first thought was an elbow, really turned out to be one fist which James sent into Stewart’s eyebrows.
The NBA on TNT’s Reggie Miller scored an interesting point about the video. He said that if you look closely, James did not intentionally try to hit Stewart in the face. Stewart got a little too much in James during that box out. James wanted to get position, but also wanted to send a quick message with one stroke.
The problem is that Stewart bent extremely low when he tried to get under James for position and where his shoulder or chest could be, turned out to be where his head was. When James was as strong as he was, a blow like the one intended for Stewart’s upper body stopped causing the kind of stain that a headbutt can in a boxing ring. It took eight stitches to close the wound.
JJ Redick knows all too well what it’s like to end up on the wrong side of James’ power. I’ve told you story on his Old Man and the Three podcast about a time when he took a charge from James.
During Redick’s fifth NBA season, 6-foot-5 guard James took a perfect spin once in defense. He knew it was coming and, even though he was scared, he stood there and took the charge from 6-foot-8, 260 pounds James in his athletic best time, because that was exactly what the Orlando Magic paid his three-point specialist to do. take his life in his own hands on the track. The routine basketball game gave Redick 11 stitches under the eye.
James is a powerful man. That’s part of the reason he’s one of the best players in the history of the game, we do not always think about it because his physicality is only part of his game, as opposed to the most important skill he brings to the table. He’s not Charles Oakley, Dale Davis, Prime Udonis Haslem or even Kevon Looney on the field. His job is not to use the giant shoulders primarily to punish screens and box-outs. He uses them to get position to get 25 plus points per game and attract the defense so he can make good passes.
This does not mean that his body is just a deadly scoring and passing machine. It can be used in the same way that Oakley, Davis, Haslem and Looney use theirs. James decided to make a big body forward the young Stewart and unfortunately the young man was caught by James’ body in the same way as Redick did. It happens sometimes.
This is not to apologize to James, for his goal at that moment was not just to get Stewart’s arms out of him, but to get Stewart away from him. It just turned into a Bam Bam moment where his powers got out of him (yes, The Flintstones is a musty cartoon reference and I stick to it.)
The Pistons and Lakers play again on Sunday on what is currently still called Staple center. Hopefully the game is even and clean, but if the referees are comfortable in the second half, there may be a place for Stewart to show that he can also forget his own strength, only hopefully he will not take blood.