Tom Sorensen

Wince all you want, there are reasons Lance Stephenson keeps getting hired.

Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson’s antics with Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James are things we all did – in seventh grade. Above, James reacts after a foul by Stephenson.
Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson’s antics with Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James are things we all did – in seventh grade. Above, James reacts after a foul by Stephenson. TNS

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.

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.

LeBronLance
The Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson, right, has been a nuisance to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA playoffs. Darron Cummings AP

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.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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