I’m going to miss Lance Stephenson, that nuisance, during the NBA Finals. Yes, he’s a clown, and yes, regardless of what any of his teammates say, his on-court antics had a negative impact on Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals. The Pacers went from a team you could root for – Paul George is damn good! Roy Hibbert is making centers relevant again! David West is tough! – to an annoying, desperate bunch, mostly thanks to Born Ready.
But I’m not ashamed to admit I’m going to miss Stephenson in the NBA Finals.
[Aside: Stephenson led the NBA in triple doubles this season with five.]
Can you imagine Stephenson trying to get in the head of Manu Ginobili? The crafty Argentinian would laugh at him. Stephenson irked the Heat so much, Udonis Haslem can be seen in the video above telling Stephenson he was going to “fuck him up.” Whether it was slapping Norris Cole, going all up in LeBron, or even talking trash to D Wade during the regular season, Stephenson went all out in his efforts to derail the Heat. None of them worked, but you have to respect his attempt, right?
The Spurs, though, are rattle proof. Duncan and Parker would scoff at Stephenson’s pick-up game hijinks. Perhaps because there’s no history here, the Spurs would think nothing of it. Stephenson has been going after LeBron and Miami since 2012, when he made a choking signing after LeBron missed a free throw.
[Aside: Stephenson will get paid by someone this offseason, probably in the $8-10 million range. If Tyreke Evans got $10 million per from the Pelicans, somebody - Atlanta? - is going to steal Stephenson from the Pacers.]
So without Stephenson to laugh at, I guess I’ll have to settle for gorgeous, fundamental basketball with a healthy dose of LeBron. Tim Duncan going glass, Tony Parker being clutch, and somebody from Miami – Ray Allen, Shane Battier or Rashard Lewis, your choice – going off in one of the games. Oh, and Bosh will miss a last-second shot and make one, too.
The pick here: Miami in six.