Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
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Channeling, and paraphrasing, our inner Jim Croce, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape… you don’t spit into the wind… you don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with… LeBron.”
Unless you are Lance Stephenson.
With apologies to the late, great Croce, whose “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” was released in 1972 and was then followed by his iconic No. 1 hit, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” Stephenson did indeed mess around with LeBron James — again — and this time, it worked.
The veteran swingman of the Indiana Pacers goaded the usually unflappable James into a technical foul in the fourth quarter of Indiana’s 97-95 come-from-behind conquest James and the rest of the sagging Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night.
Replays showed during a deal bad, Stephenson stuck his right thumb into’s James above his left hip and James responded by shoving Stephenson with a left forearm to the chest, drawing the technical foul.
James admitted Stephenson, who spurred the Pacers’ rally from a 34-12 first-quarter deficit with 16 points and 11 rebounds off the Indiana bench, got the best of him.
“Lance is just a little dirty that’s all,” he told reporters after the game. “He’s a little dirty. We got a history so I already know that. I should’ve known.
“I’ve known since school, it’s not the guy who tells the joke who gets caught, it’s the guy who laughs. So they caught me on the retaliation, so, but he played well tonight.”
Stephenson, of course, said he was just being, well, Lance.
When James was with the Miami Heat and was playing a playoff game in Indiana in May 2014, Stephenson infamously blew in James’ ear, to which James responded by simply shaking his head.
That wasn’t the case Friday night, though.
“He’s an outstanding player, you can’t just play him soft and regular,” Stephenson of James. “I told myself tonight I was going to get into him, play him hard, make him make tough baskets.”
Quieried if James said anything to him, Stephenson said, “Nah. I wish he would. He don’t never say nothing.”
He did believe, though, he got under James’ skin.
“It looked like I did today,” Stephenson said. “This is the first time he reacted to me.”
Which is all part of his master plan of attempting to challenge the best player on the planet.
“You can’t play regular defense on him,” Stephenson said. “You’ve got to get on him and try to get into him.”
Which he did, at least for one night, anyway.
“It’s hard to get into his head, but tonight was (different),” Stephenson said. “Just playing against the best player in the league, trying to win against them.
“There are a lot of fans coming out to support him, so I just try to get his fans mad, too.”