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Pacers president Larry Bird, asked if he was bothered by Lance Stephenson blowing in LeBron’s ear: ‘Yes I am’

May 29, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

Larry Bird Larry Bird

Lance Stephenson finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting in the Pacers’ Game 5 win over the Heat, and overall, those numbers didn’t have all that much of an impact on the game’s final result.

Stephenson, however, tried to put his stamp on this one in other ways, the most noticeable being an odd exchange where he was seen blowing in the ear of LeBron James.

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel wasn’t exactly in support of this particular tactic, saying the following day that he wants his guys to be competitive without crossing the line. And the team’s president, Larry Bird, similarly wasn’t pleased with Stephenson’s odd behavior.

From Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

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.”

The ear incident wasn’t the only trick Stephenson pulled to try to gain a psychological advantage. He attempted to eavesdrop on a Miami huddle at one point, and tried to flop to get the referees to disqualify James, for which he received a $10,000 fine the next day.

Bird’s opinion of Stephenson is the most important, because he’s the one who will ultimately decide how much to offer Stephenson to stay in Indiana when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Given his string of questionable postseason decisions, along with some play deemed by his teammates to have been selfish, it’s worth wondering if Bird is still intent on retaining Stephenson’s services.

  1. antistratfordian - May 29, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    I’m telling you, this Pacers team has got to be driving Bird absolutely batty. The way they play is not Larry Bird’s style i.e. spotty effort and clownish behavior.

    • chicagosports2014 - May 30, 2014 at 1:18 AM


  2. ss3walkman - May 29, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    Stevenson won’t be back next season

    • ss3walkman - May 29, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      * Stephenson. Shoes you how much I care for him as a player

    • ss3walkman - May 29, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      * Stephenson. Shows you how much I care for him as a player

  3. innovativethinking87 - May 29, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Pacers are a joke. Their so lucky LeBron was in foul trouble only playing 24 min. And they still barley won. Biggest waste of gas flying to Miami Friday..

    Shout out to Larry Bird, great dude..

    • jollyjoker2 - May 29, 2014 at 11:18 PM

      no, they just are not as good as Miami…My theory is LeBron dropped it so another game could be added to his pay,…Miami will likely crush them in the next game.

      • johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 8:05 AM

        Players don`t get paid by the game.Refs DO!Which is why 3 of the 5 games have been decided by the refs and 2 by the players.Heat fans can`t cry that Lebron only playing 24 minutes in game 5 effected the game but that George & Hill in game 2 & Stephenson & Hibbert in game 4 didn`t.

    • chicagosports2014 - May 30, 2014 at 1:50 AM

      LANCE gonna probably stay in the East and punk GEORGE all next season. 😁 i really was pulling for Indy but they just blew it, that team was loaded smh I didn’t want “MIAMI” coming out the East👎

    • macka4 - May 30, 2014 at 7:19 AM

      But ….. they have come a good ways in a relatively short time. Now, they just need to get over the hump (Heat). On the right track to a good degree. George is a hell of a player, he needs his Pippen or Wade. Which he probably doesn’t have as of yet.

    • johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      So Lebron only playing 24 minutes effected the game 5 outcome but Hill & Goerge in game 2 & Stephenson & Hibbert in game 4 didn`t?
      If you think that`s innovative thinking your the joke.You can`t have it both ways.The refs have dictated the outcome of 3 of the 5 games so i don`t know who the best team is and that`s the problem.I want to see both teams at full strength deciding the outcome without the ghost whistles taking players off the court.

      • jobytrice - May 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        When speaking about players being held out of a game and it making a difference make sure they actually do something to warrant that on the court. Hill? C’mon… Hibbert is questionable as well. George I get but Stephenson is inconsistent as well.

      • johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        @jobytrice,If you look at the +/- for Hill & CJ Watson you will see that Hill has been very important this series.Hibbert is crucial to the defense.look at Miami`s FG% with him on the court and off.The Pacers have been dealing with 2 guys with limited minutes per game not just 1 so they may not be Lebron but they are very important to the “team’ which is what you need to be when you don`t have a superstar.When you take 2/5 of that out it does have a huge effect on the game.
        I don`t care which team it is i want the coaches to have all their players available and to see the players decide the outcome.

    • bball242322 - May 30, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Easyyyyy. Being a final four team 2 years in a row doesn’t qualify the team as a “joke”…Typical Heat troll. Get outta here with these comments. Have just a little tiny respect for other teams instead of talking trash

  4. angulocarlos1 - May 29, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    Stephenson is a tool

  5. eugenesaxe1 - May 29, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    Wasn’t Bird a notorious trash-talker? Same concept. But yeah, Stephenson needs to quit attention-whoaring, he’s not that good.

    • jcmeyer10 - May 29, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      There’s a difference between running your mouth and getting weird.

      • eugenesaxe1 - May 29, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        “Weird” would be Stephenson stripping down to his jockstrap at center court. Or being Dennis Rodman.

    • campcouch - May 29, 2014 at 11:13 PM

      Bird would tell a guy he was shooting a three and do it. That’s the ultimate trash talk lol

    • metalhead65 - May 30, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      Larry talked trash on the court and backed it up and did not say stupid things to the media or do them on the court. as far as his trash talking it was mostly about what he was going to do and how they could not stop him and he then he did it. Stephenson is just an attention seeking jerk with talent that has not learned how to use it. he will see how good he had it with the pacers when he is forced to take less money to be the man on a lousy team next season. Larry will do what it takes to fix this immature under achieving team before next season.

    • 1historian - May 30, 2014 at 7:54 AM

      Same concept? Not in a million years

  6. jollyjoker2 - May 29, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    I like it..if you can get these guys out of their game..go for it..Miami has owned Indiana for almost 3 seasons, I would get 5 bench players and get the other team into a brawl if you could get inside their heads…

  7. seattlesuperchronic - May 29, 2014 at 11:19 PM


    I just read your tossed salad and scrambled eggs comment on another article, it was brilliant. Anyone with a Frasier reference in their arsenal is alright by me. Kudos, and kudos again.

  8. davidly - May 30, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    “Stephenson, however, tried to put his stamp on this one in other ways, the most noticeable being an odd exchange…”

    Funny, I watched the game, and the most noticeable thing to me was how he stole the ball from the greatest player on the planet and drew the foul that put him on the bench. That moment, and a couple of his drives to the hoop, single-handedly energized his team who had be playing without much energy up to that point.

    In short, had the broadcast crew not replayed the ear blow, and the PBT not created several threads about it, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

    • jobytrice - May 30, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      He blew in another players ear. That’s about as noticeable as it gets. Guy is a clown.

      • davidly - May 30, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        You basically just said: Nuh-uh!

  9. johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Stephenson is a very talented player who is only 23 and getting better every season so as a Pacers fan it`s hard to let a guy like that go in free agency for nothing in return but i think it would be even harder to give him 40-50 million guaranteed because if he doesn`t listen to anyone now who is he going to listen too when he`s set for life?It`s a tough call because he could mature and be a great player but he could also be another Gilbert Arenas just as quick.

  10. futilephish - May 30, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    I hope lebron throws down 70 tonight!!!

    • johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      I hope Hibbert blocks 30 shots!!!!
      and falls down less than 10 times.

    • bball242322 - May 30, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      PG for 71!!!

  11. frank35sox - May 30, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    How immature is it, really? It’s gamesmanship. Maybe not something you would do, but still harmless. It’s not attention seeking either. It’s just how he plays. Every. Single. Day. He enjoys playing the game and has fun doing it. Let the guy ball, because when he’s “Good Lance,” it’s pretty fun to watch.

    • jobytrice - May 30, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      It’s extremely immature. Maybe not for a 5 year old, although I don’t even think they pull these kind of antics. Gamesmanship? Let’s start from the beginning. The choke sign which eventually backfired on him. The comments on Wade’s knees. Also backfired on him. The comments toward Lebron. Also backfired on him. Now he’s blowing in Lebrons ear? I don’t know. Unless it’s some kind of coincidence, I’m pretty sure this will backfire on him as well. This guy doesn’t deserve a max contract but you never know. Maybe the Cavs or some other bottom of the well team will offer it to him.

      • frank35sox - May 30, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        It’s not a backfire if the team is simply better, and Miami is probably just better. Maybe it actually hurt them and made the games closer, allowing Indiana to get to Game 6. Everyone always listens to the garbage that ESPN spits out, then spews it back with a few words mixed around, and they think they have some unique perspective.

        Sure, basketball is a big business, but it’s the entertainment business. Lighten up and be entertained. He’s a fun player to watch, and it was harmless.

  12. johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Stephenson immature?Who knew?The Heat are a very focused team so Lance is trying to be a distraction.Something he`s fairly good at.I think he has gotten in Lebrons head a little.Whether that is a good thing or not we`ll see.I expect Lebron to have a huge game & shoot 12-15 FT.The NBA is sending Scott Foster to ref the game so you`ll see more free throws and techs.

  13. shanydawg - May 30, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Seems the only one that isn’t bothered by Stephenson’s antics is Lebron. Tonight is going to be ugly. GO HEAT!

    • johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      I think Stephenson`s antics have bothered Lebron or at least annoyed him.He has Lebron talking back to him and thinking about shutting him up during games which has distracted Lebron more than usual.I just don`t think it will work tonight.I think Lebron will stay focused tonight.I hope not but i`d be surprised if he didn`t have a great game.

    • bball242322 - May 30, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Go PACERS!

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