Lance Stephenson went home and cried after the Lakers were eliminated from playoffs
Lance Stephenson was determined to get his shot at the NBA Finals this past offseason, and he saw no better path to get there but to play for the Los Angeles Lakers and join a cast spearheaded by LeBron James, who had reached the last eight Finals. Upon seeing that dream blow up, Stephenson drove home to his apartment in Playa Vista and cried.
“He makes it to the playoffs every year,” Stephenson told Bill Oram of The Athletic. “He makes it to the Finals. So I mean my goal was, ‘Oh yeah, I definitely want to be a part of that.’ Help him out and just fight with him.”
Stephenson signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles, much like teammates Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and former teammate Michael Beasley did in the offseason.
The shifty guard knew he’d have this one shot to ride out to the grandest stage the NBA has to offer, and the regret of not being able to make it into the playoffs was manifested in tears.
“My goal in the NBA was to make it to the Finals,” said Stephenson. “I was close with the Pacers. You don’t have that many chances of getting there. I felt like this was the one right here.”
The Lakers front office maintains that making the playoffs was not a goal, but as most fans of the purple and gold say — it was an unmentioned one that hovered over their heads once James inked a four-year, $154 million deal to wear the team’s colors.
Sadly for Stephenson, this turned out to be only the third time in James’ 16-year career in which he missed the playoffs.