Lakers' LeBron James takes out his frustration on Indiana Pacers
After missing his 'favorite game' against the Knicks through suspension the Pacers were forced to pay.
The Lakers star felt the suspension was harsh but accepted it none the less.
LeBron James didn't agree with suspension
On Monday, LeBron James missed a call while taking a nap in New York. James and the Los Angeles Lakers were in town ahead of their clash with the Knicks. The call in question was from was from Rob Pelinka, the Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager. Pelink was calling to advise James that the NBA had announced that he would be suspended for the game, making it the first time in his 19-year that he would miss a game through suspension.
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"Rob called me. I missed his call," James told ESPN. "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 back at it after pain of New York absence
On Wednesday night LeBron James definitely took out his frustration on the Indiana Pacers as the Lakers claimed a dramatic 124-116 overtime win. It was James' firs game after his suspension for hitting Detroit Pistons Isaiah Stewart in the face, resulting in the latter being left bleeding. Indeed, one could tell James was in the mood as he scored a season high 39 points to help the Lakers come back from 12 points down in the second half. It wasn't just his numbers, however, there was also his constant showmanship, at one point even opting for his old celebration, "The Silencer" from his time with the Miami Heat after scoring a 3.
James admitted post game, however, that not being able to play in the New York game still hurt. "I was devastated," James said. "It's my favorite place in the world to play, so I was looking forward to it. But it is what it is."
The NBA stood firm in it's suspension
Although there was initial speculation that punishment might be delayed, as the Lakers vs Knicks game with LeBron James on court is a massive draw for the television audience. The league did not budge and James himself was quick to point out that it was never even an option. "No. No," James said. "I had a conversation with whomever from the league calls when you have that. Asked me my side of the story, I gave them my side of the story and then they did what the f--- they got to do."
LeBron James explains his side of the story
Speaking post game, James disclosed what he said to the league, regarding the altercation in the Pistons game. "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, admitted he had not spoken with Stewart since and also went on to highlight the frequency with which such blows can occur in the game. He highlighted Russell Westbrook's bloody lip which was received during the Knicks game, as well as Quentin Grimes on Tuesday and even he himself who was hit in the face by Domantas Sabonis in the Pacers game, requiring a bandage on his eyelid afterward.
"I hate to see that, what escalated after that," added. "I didn't think it warranted [a suspension]. I thought it warranted an ejection because of what happened after that. Having me, probably, still in the game and the excitement from the fans and what could possibly happen after that, obviously. But a suspension, I didn't think it was warranted. But the league made that call, and we're here today."
With LeBron James the Lakers are obviously better
With the LeBron James win the Lakers are now on an even keel with a 10-10 record. "That's why he's the GOAT, man," said Lakers teammate and guard Malik Monk, who himself had an impressive night with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench. "I've been watching him my whole life. He's like our [Michael] Jordan in my generation."
Lakers coach Frank Vogel also chimed in saying, "What LeBron did tonight was just a performance for the ages," Vogel said. "I know these fans and how much they love their hoops here in Indianapolis. And he put on one hell of a show, and obviously, he gets the game ball."
Thinking back to their 2018-19 season which ended badly, James was positive about what lies ahead for the Lakers. "The way it started compared to the way it ended," he said. To come here, this is always a tough building for us to play. It's always been a tough building for me to play in my whole career, and obviously, you know Rick Carlisle's team is going to be always well-coached. So, to leave out of here with a win, it's a damn good trip. Despite everything that's happened on this trip, it's a good feeling to go back on Thanksgiving. The food will taste a little bit better."