Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers has been a nuisance to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. When Stephenson played for the Charlotte Bobcats, he was a nuisance to the Bobcats.
Stephenson is a performance artist. Do you know what the strange part of his saga is? He can play.
After four seasons in Indiana, the Bobcats signed Stephenson in 2014-15. It was a big deal at the time. The signing demonstrated that Charlotte was serious about winning.
The signing also demonstrated that Charlotte had failed to do its research.
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For Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker to be effective, he needs the ball. Even more than most point guards, Walker requires the ball in his hands. Stephenson also needs the ball, and perhaps therapy.
Stephenson’s antics with James (getting in LeBron’s way and going step for step with him during a timeout, famously blowing in his ear) are things we all did – in seventh grade. Stephenson is 27.
Most of us moved on. Yet there is Stephenson, throughout Indianapolis’ first-round playoff series against LeBron and the Cavaliers, doing middle-school stuff to either undermine LeBron or attract attention. When Stephenson acts out, officials don’t know whether to call him for a foul or send him to the principal.
Stephenson didn’t fit in Charlotte. Since Charlotte, he’s played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and now, for the second time, Indianapolis.
The reason that Stephenson, 6-6, gets opportunities is because he can score a little, rebound a little and pass, too.
The strange, but true, quality about Stephenson is that, despite the performance art, he plays unselfishly.