Give Isaiah Stewart credit, he's an NBA rookie, but he's no wallflower. Far from it.
The former University of Washington forward now a Detroit Piston enforcer has gone nose to nose at game's end with Milwaukee Bucks superstar big man Giannis Antetokounmpo, who wasn't overly thrilled by the youngster's rough stuff and let him know it.
Stewart later got tangled up with Philadelphia 76ers post player Dwight Howard and ripped the older man's shorts, accidental or not. Of course, he heard about this from an angry Howard.
And last weekend, the bruising 6-foot-9, 250-pound Stewart took a blatant elbow to the face from former Detroit teammate and now Brooklyn Nets big man Blake Griffin, and responded with a reactive forearm to the other guy's facial area.
Stewart got ejected. Griffin did not.
While Stewart's nerve is certainly commendable for a first-year player, Pistons coach Dwane Casey felt his new guy got sucked into the play needlessly and put out of the game by design.
“You can’t be baited into a situation like that," Casey said. "Understand your opponent and how they play. Great learning experience. Hopefully, he learns from it.”
Others felt that Griffin, in taking advantage of a rough game that had seen three technicals called to that point, got away with selling the physical play to the officials, who might have decided enough was enough and made the rookie the scapegoat.
Stewart drew a flagrant-2 call and the automatic ejection supposedly for an intentional blow to the head. Griffin was whistled for a basic technical because his elbow was considered inadvertent.
Replays seemed to show Griffin responsible for a more malicious play than Stewart.
Either way, the one-time Husky forward has built a solid NBA-wide reputation for backing down from no one and playing as rough and tough as the situation dictates.
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