As the referees reviewed a foul call late in the third quarter of Game 5, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called Norris Cole toward the bench to offer instruction.
Pacers forward Lance Stephenson joined the conversation, and Spoelstra looked none too pleased.
Invading opponent’s huddles happens – nobody has done it better than Marcin Gortat – but I understand why Spoelstra is upset. Lance is a pest, trying to get under everyone’s skin. Whether that’s blowing in LeBron James’ ear or calling out LeBron publicly, Stephenson is not afraid to toe the line or maybe even cross it right into a discussion between a Miami coach and player.
After the game, LeBron was asked about Stephenson’s antics. Watch how he inflects the word “professionals.”
I don’t really – I mean, I’m just here to play basketball, man. All the extracurricular activities, I don’t really get into. I mean, I’m just trying to win. We need one more game to get the Finals. That’s my only concern. We put ourselves in a position to win tonight, and as competitors, as PROFESSIONALS, that’s what we are. At the end of the day, we put ourselves in a position to win. All the extra, whatever Lance wants to deal with, I don’t really care about that.
I’ve been impressed how LeBron and Dwyane Wade have answered questions about the Pacers’ ridiculousness with straight faces. You don’t think part of LeBron just wanted to rail on Stephenson for the pain he is? But LeBron and Wade keep taking the high road.
So, I love that very slight emphasis on “professionals.” Excellently and subtly done, LeBron.