James called Stephenson about joining him on Lakers

LeBron James and Lance Stephenson have had their fair share of battles over the years, dating all the way back to when James was in South Beach with the Miami Heat.

Stephenson has a knack of getting under opposing players’ skin with his tough defense and sportive tactics. Every time James and Stephenson face off, the two always seem to get into some type of minor tussle, with Stephenson always being the instigator.

That’s why many were surprised when the Los Angeles Lakers signed Stephenson shortly after James announced he was leaving Cleveland for the Lakers. But Stephenson, who has always felt his famed rivalry with James was rooted in mutual respect, got a call from the four-time MVP pitching him on teaming up in L.A.

“I was actually surprised he made the move to L.A.,” Stephenson said. “I guess he needed a new look, and I just feel like him reaching out and showing he likes what I bring to the game, it’s amazing. I’m just happy to be on a team that wants to win.”

Stephenson’s agent also called James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, to make sure James was on board with Stephenson signing with the Lakers, according to a report from the LA Times.

“It’s actually funny that I’m actually on the same team as him,” Stephenson said. “I’m very excited to see what that brings. Just playing with him, one of the best players in the game, I can’t wait to get on board with him and have a fun season this year.”

Stephenson signed a one-year deal with the Lakers. He will make $4.5 million in 2018-19.

In 82 games this past season with the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists, shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from three.