*It may have been hilarious to fans – particularly Indiana Pacers fans – but Lance Stephenson’s antics to get under the skin of Miami Heat forward LeBron James in Wednesday’s Game 5 got him in big trouble with the boss.
Pacers president Larry Bird called a meeting with Stephenson prior to Friday’s Game 6, two days after Stephenson was caught blowing in the LeBron’s ear and given his second flopping fine of the Eastern Conference finals.
“He said, ‘Don’t do it again,’ so I’m not going to do it again,” Stephenson said after the Pacers’ shootaround. “He’s kept me on the right path my whole career, and if he says something to me, I take it to heart.”
When asked what would have happened had Stephenson blown in Bird’s ear in a playoff game during Bird’s playing days, Stephenson was blunt.
“There probably would’ve been a fight,” he said. “But this is a different type of game from the ’90s. You can’t throw blows.”
Stephenson has drawn more attention for his off-court comments and on-court antics than for his play during the series. In addition to the flopping fines and the ear blowing, Stephenson has gotten involved in protracted trash talking with James and Dwyane Wade.
“I’m not talking about Lance Stephenson for the rest of the playoffs,” Chris Bosh, the third part of the star trio in Miami, said Friday.
Yet, despite Indiana winning Game 5, Stephenson says he doesn’t think his tactics are even working.
“I don’t think I can get into LeBron’s head,” he said. “He’s the best player in the league, he knows how to play through that kind of stuff. I don’t think it bothered him at all. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s going to find a way to play great.”
This statement, of course, opens another area of wondering about Stephenson’s motivations. The Pacers, though, are trying to move past all of it as they attempt to win their fourth elimination game of the playoffs.
“It’s time to get back to basketball,” forward Paul George said. “We have to focus.”
Game 6 tips off tonight at 8:30 on ESPN. The Heat leads the series 3-2.
Watch the ear blow and LeBron’s comment about it below.