Is Larry Bird bothered by Lance Stephenson blowing in ears? 'Yes I am'

by May 29, 6:04 PM

Ray Allen isn't the only one nonplussed with Lance Stephenson's odd decision on Wednesday night to blow in the ear of LeBron James.

While he didn't say much, Pacers president Larry Bird admitted that he wasn't a fan of the act.

From USA Today Sports:

But if you thought the actual incident was funny and entertaining, there's one important man who doesn't.

Asked via text message if he was bothered by Stephenson blowing in James' ear, Pacers president Larry Bird replied, "Yes I am."

Bird knows. He could trash talk, get inside someone's head and back it up.

That last point is a great one: Bird was the king of trash talk. If Stephenson, who won't stop running his mouth and doing weird things in this series, wanted tips, he has the master at his disposal.

Instead, he does this:

Feature photo courtesy of Marc Lebryk / USA Today Sports

May 31, 4:50 PM

LeBron on Stephenson antics: 'I have no idea how I restrained'

by May 31, 4:50 PM

Lance Stephenson should probably be thankful that cooler heads prevailed on Friday night after he cupped the face of Lebron James, yet another in the long line of antics - physical or verbal - Stephenson pulled in the Eastern Conference finals.

Stephenson is normally quite mercurial, anyway, but the goal here seemed to be to rattle James' cage, something head coach Frank Vogel believes was a pretty bad idea (see the post below). 

What Stephenson may have forgot is that in his 11 seasons, including nine playoff runs, four MVPs and two NBA titles, James has had opponents try to get in his kitchen and break dishes in every way imaginable. Still, Friday's face-tap nearly caused tensions to boil over.

Not only did Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem respond in-game (physically and verbally, respectively), James admitted after the game that he very nearly did too.

From Pro Basketball Talk:

I don’t know. I have no idea how I restrained. I don’t know, I guess I just understand what the bigger picture is.

It was uncalled for, for sure. That was — I don’t know. I’m at a loss of words with that, but it was uncalled for, and I was able to move on from it. I let him know how I felt.

Well, we have an idea how James was able to restrain himself: the Heat were crushing the Pacers, James was dominating and had he responded, he would have been risking missing time in the NBA Finals. Stephenson probably just isn't worth it.

Still, good for him for keeping a cool head.

May 31, 9:37 AM

Frank Vogel on Lance Stephenson's antics: I don't think it's good to tug on Superman's cape

by May 31, 9:37 AM

Lance Stephenson continued his antics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a bizarre cupping of LeBron James' face and a slap to the head of Miami Heat guard Norris Cole.

The game ended in a blowout loss for the Indiana Pacers, and head coach Frank Vogel indicated afterwards that Stephenson's behavior may have done more harm than good.

"It's tough to say," Vogel said, via Pro Basketball Talk. "I don't think it's ever good … what's everybody call it? Tug on Superman's cape. I don't think that’s ever good. But I'll take Lance Stephenson's competitive edge. Like I said, I just don't think it's good to tug on the cape."

Vogel isn't the only person concerned about Stephenson's antics. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the soon-to-be free agent is scaring off potential suitors with his unreliability.

[Courtesy: ESPN]

Feature photo courtesy of Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

May 30, 9:06 PM

VIDEO: Lance Stephenson continues antics, cups LeBron's face

by May 30, 9:06 PM

Like...what the heck are you thinking, Lance Stephenson?

You came under fire for silly antics in Game 5, enough that your team's president and the greatest verbal assassin in basketball history called you out, and then you come out in Game 6 and do this:

What is the point of this? What's the endgame? Does he think a hand in the face is going to rattle LeBron James, who has four MVPs and two NBA titles and has probably seen it all when it comes to opposing players trying to get under his skin?

Sorry, Born Ready, but 11 first quarter points from James would suggest otherwise.

Feature photo courtesy of Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

May 30, 1:44 PM

Stephenson says Bird told him to stop the antics

by May 30, 1:44 PM

MIAMI (AP) Lance Stephenson's ear-blowing antics are over.

That was the order the Indiana guard got from Pacers president Larry Bird, who took issue with Stephenson's antics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.

Stephenson was caught by television cameras blowing into the ear of Heat star LeBron James. That led to a conversation between Stephenson and Bird.

''He said, 'Don't do it again,''' Stephenson said Friday, recalling his talk with Bird. ''So I'm not going to do it again.''

Stephenson's non-play-related words and stunts have largely become the story of the East finals, starting from when he talked about the health of Dwyane Wade's knees before the series. In Game 5, not only did he blow into James' ear, but also walked into a Heat huddle while Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was talking things over with a couple players.

And on Thursday, Stephenson was quoted in NBA-provided transcripts referring to Heat guard ''Cole Norris,'' instead of the player's actual name, Norris Cole.

''It'd be good just to play basketball,'' Pacers guard Paul George said. ''When you've got antics and stuff being bigger than the game, then of course it's going to raise some eyebrows. But here, we just want to play basketball. It's the conference finals. Everything else can just kind of sit on the side.''

Stephenson has created some Heat-related storylines in each of the last three postseasons, starting when he directed a ''choke'' sign toward James during the 2012 East semifinals.

Earlier in this series, Stephenson said that when James talks to him during a game, the four-time MVP is showing signs of ''weakness.''

But Friday, hours before the Heat and Pacers were to play Game 6 of the series, Stephenson said, ''I don't think I can get into his head. He's the best player in the league. He knows how to play through that stuff.''

Wade and fellow Heat star Chris Bosh said they wouldn't stand for one of their teammates creating such a stir.

''If they're focused on that,'' Stephenson said, ''that's good.''

The Heat were taking a 3-2 series lead into Friday night, and were one win away from ousting Indiana for a third straight season. And given that it's now win-or-else time for the Pacers, Indiana forward David West said he'd encourage Stephenson to do whatever it takes in Game 6.

''That's a part of who Lance is,'' West said. ''I didn't even know (what he did) until after the game. Obviously, we're in a must-win situation. So everything is a go in my opinion. We've got to try to win this game. We've got to try to do whatever we can to get whatever type of advantage we can get to try to win the game.''

Stephenson said multiple times Friday that he's simply trying to have fun and help the Pacers win. But when asked by a reporter after Indiana's shootaround practice ''How does blowing in the ear contribute to winning?,'' he didn't respond for several seconds.

With that, a member of the Pacers' media-relations staff told Stephenson to go shoot, and he walked away.

May 29, 8:16 AM

Ray Allen on Lance Stephenson's antics: 'It's just buffoonery'

by May 29, 8:16 AM

Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson won't let up against the Miami Heat. Beyond the numbers, Stephenson's behavior on the court during the Eastern Conference Finals has been downright bizarre.

Wednesday, he blew into LeBron James' ear for the second time in his career. Stephenson also made the unwelcome gesture during Game 4 of last year's Conference Finals.

Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report queried Heat veteran Ray Allen on whether the quirky Pacers guard gets Miami players off their game.

"No, it's just buffoonery," Allen said, noting Stephenson makes himself look bad with the antics. "As players, we just are professional, we come out and do our jobs. He's young. He'll grow up." 

Asked if he'd ever thought about using the ear-blowing tactic as a defensive move, James had an answer: “Probably my wife. I blew in my wife’s ear before. That was definitely a defensive tactic.”

Feature photo courtesy of Brian Spurlock / Reuters

May 28, 11:02 PM

VIDEO: Lance Stephenson blows into LeBron's ear

by May 28, 11:02 PM