After Stephenson didn’t want to resign with Indiana for 5 years/44 million, this situation became very confusing. Larry Bird wasn’t budging off that number, but it seemed, because of the close relationship between Lance and Larry Legend, that something would eventually be hammered out.
That didn’t go down, Stephenson signs a 3yr./27 million dollar deal with Charlotte, and in essence, Lance traded Larry Bird for Michael Jordan. He will definitely be missed in Indy and despite what you may hear from punditry all over the land (including Indy), Born Ready’s energy and skill were a plus on the Pacers roster. When cats are game weary and a player is relentless all over the floor late into the 4th, it puts a lot of pressure on any defense and definitely factors in the final result. Lance has a drive few pro athletes have and as a result, don’t sleep on the Hornets. I dig players like Lance Stephenson because they give a team an extra gear. Intimidation becomes a factor and the opposition knows every game will be a fight because of the presence of a player like Stephenson.
Stephenson also lead the league in Oscars (triple-doubles) last season with 5. With his leaving and all the rest of the signings this off season, fans are getting what they want in parity.
As @mattiecolin said to me this morning on twitter, something had to go down for such a promising Pacers player to bolt just when it seemed this team wasn’t going away despite their recent playoff losses to a then LeBron James led Miami Heat. Stephenson became a social media lightening rod in memes after his classic in-game exchanges with LeBron (and Dwyane Wade as well) during the playoffs and as the Pacers were eliminated after falling apart very quickly at the end of the regular season, you still thought the Pacers would move on positively without making drastic changes.
Searching for images was hilarious with all the funny ass memes on the web. Y’all ain’t right…lol
But seriously, something had to go down…
@michaeltillery I wish we could find out what actually happened in that locker room over the last 6 months. Something crazy.
— mattie (@mattiecolin) July 16, 2014
Below is a convo I had with Lance here in Philly vs. the Sixers shortly after the lockout was resolved. Because it’s in the locker room, it’s unedited. Listen to the end where his voice changes when speaking of the aforementioned Bird.