What is a flagrant foul in the NBA after LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart ejected?

Jake Nichol November 22, 2021
What is a flagrant foul in the NBA after LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart ejected?
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart were both ejected in a bad-tempered clash last night for flagrant fouls, but what does the term actually mean? Are there different types of flagrant foul and what is the punishment?

In the third quarter with the Detroit Pistons leading 78-66 over James’ LA Lakers, the flashpoint occurred following a rebound. James caught Stewart in the face with an elbow, with the Pistons star understandably unhappy.

A melee ensued, with both players ejected from the match for flagrant fouls. But what is a flagrant foul in the NBA and how many types are there? Do James and Stewart now face suspension?

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Flagrant fouls explained

Flagrant fouls are used by the NBA to determine the severity of an on-court incident between players.They are divided into two types: Flagrant Foul 1 and Flagrant Foul 2.

FF1 is described as:

  • Unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent

FF2 is the same definition, except the word “excessive” is added after the word “unnecessary”.

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An FF2 is for incidents where a player uses unjustified force in contact and is a danger to others. James was handed an FF2, meaning he was ejected immediately.

Stewart was given two technical fouls, which meant he was ejected for his role in the melee.

What happens when a flagrant foul is called?

Should a player receive two FF1s in the same game, they will be ejected, whereas an FF2 is a straight ejection.

It is similar to yellow and red cards in football/soccer – two yellow cards make a red, which itself can be issued for violent or dangerous conduct.

When a flagrant foul is committed, the team that was fouled – in this case the Pistons – retain possession. They are also awarded two free throws.

Will there be a penalty?

James received two penalty points for the FF2 offence. Should a player receive five or more penalty points in the regular season, they will be banned.

However, as James has been a historically clean player, he isn’t close to the five-point threshold.

Stewart is likely to receive a fine for attempting to escalate the incident – something the NBA doesn’t want to see during its matches.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.