After LeBron James, Daron Payne and Larry Nance Jr. got into a heated exchange midway through the third quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season opener against the Boston Celtics, James was ejected from the game and taken to the locker room.
Referee Doug Oakley, the only official on the floor at the time, called a double technical on each player. Cleveland fans rose to their feet and booed Oakley.
James, locked in a one-on-one situation against Jared Sullinger, spun around the Celtics forward and struck him in the face as the players were going into the third quarter. The blow knocked Sullinger to the floor. Referees quickly surrounded the two players. The two got tangled up, with Sullinger struggling to get away. The contact didn’t appear to be intentional. Sullinger went up with both arms outstretched before the players were separated.
The game continued after the technicals, though Cleveland eventually lost, 101-97.
Replay showed James making contact with Sullinger while going after the ball. Sullinger appeared to have possession before losing it to James.
This isn’t the first time James has clashed with an opponent on the court. Last season, after drawing an offensive foul, he started jawing with Russell Westbrook after pulling down the Thunder star.