Lance Stephenson has made a habit of talking to LeBron James on the court, but for the most part, James has let those words go unrecognized.
In Miami’s Game 3 win over the Pacers, however, James responded early and often. It seemed to begin during the second quarter after he was called for a charge on Stephenson, when LeBron stood over him as he sat on the floor, before shadowing him as closely as possible on the way back down the court.
Stephenson knows just how unusual it is to have James respond to his constant jabbering, and he believes he may have finally cracked the armor of the game’s best player.
“To me, I think it’s a sign of weakness because he never used to say nothing to me,” Stephenson said. “I always used to be the one who used to be the one that say, `I’m going to get under you. I’m going to do something to get you mad’ Now he’s trying to do it to me. I feel like it’s a weakness.”‘ …
“I’m doing something right and I’m getting under his skin,” Stephenson said. “I definitely have to keep stepping up to the plate and be aggressive when he does that.” …
“One thing I’m not going to do is give y’all a storyline with LeBron and Stephenson,” James said. “I’m not going to do that. It’s the Pacers versus the Heat. I’m not going to get involved in that … I’ve already been involved in a LeBron vs. Stevenson in my playoff career.”
LeBron was of course referring to DeShawn Stevenson, who similarly engaged James when he played for the Cavaliers and DeShawn played for the Wizards during the 2008 season.
James is wise not to get into it with Lance through the media, but as far as responding on the court, a player can only take so much. And as long as it’s not a distraction to LeBron — who finished Game 3 with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting, to go along with five rebounds, seven assists, four steals and a victory — he can say whatever he wants.