Lance Stephenson: ‘Definitely surprising’ LeBron James wanted him as teammate
Lance Stephenson admitted this week that it was “definitely surprising” to learn LeBron James had no issue with being teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers. After all, it was only a few years ago Stephenson attempted one of the most infamous — and meme’d — attempts at mind games in NBA history when he blew into James’ ear.
The bizarre incident occurred during Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals between James’ then-Heat squad and Stephenson’s Pacers.
With training camp underway and James and Stephenson getting to know one another as teammates and not adversaries, the latter mentioned how the ear-blowing incident has not even been addressed.
“It was definitely surprising [that LeBron James] wanted me to play with him,” Stephenson told The Undefeated’s Justin Tinsley. “We ain’t talk about [the ear incident] though. I’m waiting for him to say something about it.”
The ear-blowing psych-out antics by Stephenson, though, was not the only time he and James have had on-court run-ins.
Stephenson has purposely touched James’ mouth. Stephenson coughed up $5,000 for a flop while guarding James that should’ve at least gotten him an Oscar nomination. Stephenson tagged James in the groin last season. He sneaked into the Heat’s huddle. And once, before Stephenson even became a regular rotational player, when James missed a free throw in Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, Stephenson was caught on camera performing the choking gesture.
Interestingly, James was forced to specifically weigh in on the ear-blowing incident during the 2016-17 NBA season when the Cavaliers brought Stevenson in for a workout. Even then James downplayed it.
James insisted this week he bears no ill will toward Stephenson.
“I love Lance,” James said Thursday. “He’ll run through a wall for any one of his teammates. Lance makes mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s all genuine. … He’s never doing anything to try and alienate himself away from the team. He plays hard, extremely hard. Guys make mistakes, but if they’re giving all they got, 110 percent, you can ride with that. I’m happy to have him.”
Becoming teammates instead of enemies often has that calming effect.