Lance Stephenson’s hi-jinks with Lebron James certainly created a buzz around an otherwise dull Eastern Conference Finals. But, following the Indiana Pacers loss to the Miami Heat in game six earlier this week, Stephenson at least acknowledged his respect for Lebron and the Heat via Instagram:
“I have much respect for LeBron and the heat. This was a great series they deserve it all love to Heat. Want to say that I’m so proud of my teammates we work so hard all year to get to point, Everything is a learning experience and getting better every year love u guys Pacer nation and thanks to all of our Pacer fans love y’all too”
Perhaps Stephenson is merely trying to make amends in hopes the Pacers will re-sign him when his contract is up this season. Or maybe he just wants to let people know he’s not a bad guy. Either way, after his antics in this series, he will be one of the most talked about unrestricted free agents on the market today. But will he be sought after?
Even his current (for now) teammate Paul George recently gave a lukewarm endorsement for re-signing Lance, despite the fact that both players came into the league together in 2010. As quoted in an SI.com article, George had this to say on Stephenson re-upping with the Pacers:
“I mean, I don’t know,” George said, after hesitating briefly and measuring his words. “That’s for [Pacers president] Larry [Bird], [GM] Kevin [Pritchard], for them to decide.”
Stephenson set career-highs in scoring, rebounding and assists this year. But, as mentioned previously, his antics overshadowed his play on the court at times. Stephenson was twice fined for flopping on Heat forward LeBron James, not to mention the notorious ear blowing incident that made even Larry Bird call Lance Stephenson out publicly.
He also tried to get in James’ head, noting to reporters that Lebron’s engagement in trash talk was a “sign of weakness.” That little remark caused major friction among his teammates, which could be the reason for George’s comments following the game six loss.
The Miami Heat, meanwhile, will try to put Lance Stephenson behind them now that they have advanced to their fourth straight NBA Finals. They will play against the San Antonio Spurs in a rematch of last year’s exciting NBA Finals.
And, unlike Lance Stephenson, don’t expect Tim Duncan to blow in Lebron James’ ear anytime soon.