LeBron James, who has been a marquee NBA player since entering the league, will be suspended one game after a tussle with Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart on Sunday. That one-game suspension will be served Tuesday, Nov. 23, when the Los Angeles Lakers play at the New York Knicks in a prime-time game on TNT.
The suspension, of course, has sparked hot debate among sports analysts. The takes vary between people believing LeBron James should be serving a longer suspension to no suspension at all.
Former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson had his own opinion on ESPN's "Keyshawn, JWill & Max" show with Jay Williams, a former NBA player, and Max Kellerman. Of LeBron’s suspension, Johnson said,
“Should LeBron James been suspended? Yeah, sure, so you suspended him. Does he get less days because he is Lebron James? You damn right. That is the reality of it. He is LeBron damn James. They’re not going to suspend LeBron damn James for multiple days!”
Johnson agreed James should have been suspended for his role in the fight, which started when his blow bloodied Isaiah Thomas' face as the two boxed out for a rebound. Kellerman and Williams argued that James should have been suspended for more games than Stewart. They reasoned that Stewart did not touch a Laker, while James set off the whole event.
In its announcement of the suspension, the NBA said Isaiah Stewart's suspension was two games because Stewart aggressively and repeatedly pursued James (despite many people trying to hold Stewart back).
On ESPN's "NBA Today," former players JJ Redick, Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson said James' suspension also reflected his previously spotless record in the league. This is his first suspension in his 19 seasons.
LeBron James deserves his special treatment
LeBron James has been in the NBA for 19 seasons, winning four NBA titles and appearing in 10 NBA Finals. The 17-time All-Star and four-time MVP is well-deserving of some special treatment based on his stats and on-court accomplishments.
Beyond that, James was ejected for just the second time in his career. His first ejection came in 2017, when James, playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, argued with a referee, claiming he was fouled while attempting a shot.
In 19 seasons, Lebron James' run of never having been ejected previously is impressive. That might be the biggest reason James deserves consideration for the penalty not extending past one game, beyond what he means to the league.
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LeBron James has had a long career with no actual dirty plays, which gives him leeway. He also has the bonus of being one of the league's biggest stars.