The moment Lance Stephenson blew in LeBron James‘ ear for a national television audience to see, the Internet was buzzing, and a hysterical meme ensued. But for Pacers GM >Larry Bird, and coach Frank Vogel, it wasn’t funny at all.
Per USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt, comes Bird’s reaction:
Asked via text message if he were bothered by Stephenson blowing in James’ ear, Pacers president Larry Bird replied, “Yes I am.”
“Blowing in his face probably crosses the line,” Frank Vogel added on Thursday. “That’s not really who we are. We want to be a competitive team, but we don’t want to cross the line.”
Heat guard Ray Allen called it “buffoonery,” after the game, but Dwayne Wade said, “Whatever you get away with is fair game. That’s the way it goes.”
James, for his part, didn’t really react except a quizzical smirk after the incident.
“I’m just here to play basketball, man,” James said after the game. “All the extracurricular activities, I don’t really get into. I’m just trying to win. We need one more game to get The Finals. That’s my only concern. We put ourselves in a position to win tonight, and as competitors, as professionals, that’s what we are.”
Zillgitt spoke with a few general managers around the league to hear their thoughts on Stephenson’s actions before this summer when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent:
One league GM told USA TODAY Sports he didn’t like that Stephenson blew in James’ ear and said he would have said something to the player. Another said that’s what Stephenson needs to play the way he does – as long his team is fine with it, but the executive wondered if poking the bear were smart.
Another executive wasn’t a fan and another brought up the point that escapes Stephenson: There is a difference between gamesmanship and sportsmanship and until Stephenson figures out the difference, he will continue to interject himself into the story negatively.
It remains to be seen what happens in tonight’s Game 6 at Miami’s American Airlines arena. The Heat are in a must-win situation, wanting no part of a Game 7 back on Indiana’s floor. For Stephenson, it could mean the end of his time in Indiana depending on the offers for him this summer. His antics in this important series certainly aren’t helping his case for a big deal, though, and annoying Larry Bird is never advised.
Will Stephenson re-sign in Indiana this summer?
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