Lance Stephenson almost cried when he got the call from Pacers
Lance Stephenson is bound to make his reunion with the Indiana Pacers a crucial one, as the team is only a half game away from dropping out of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The versatile wing spent four years in Indiana before choosing to sign with the Charlotte Hornets in 2014 — a move that would coincide with the decline in his career.
Upon getting the call from president Larry Bird earlier this week, the 26-year-old shooting guard was overwhelmed with emotions.
“When I got the call, I almost cried,” Stephenson told Jared Wade of 8pts9secs. “I feel like Indiana is family…Can’t wait to get on the court.”
Stephenson and Bird have had a close relationship since he was drafted out of Cincinnati in 2010, a relationship Stephenson expects to rekindle after signing a three-year, $12 million deal with the team earlier this week. The deal is actually the next six games of this season plus the 2017-18 season with a team option for 2018-19, per Wade.
When asked if he wished he had never left the franchise in the first place, the 6-foot-5 wing had no problem admitting so.
“Definitely,” he said. “I wish I would’ve just stayed home.”
Stephenson has also found growth in his career, despite his struggles on the court — noting the transition from being a playground and high school legend in Brooklyn and his adjustment into the NBA game.
“(Growing up) I was always the man,” said Stephenson. “When I got here [to the NBA], everyone’s the man… I’ve got a lot to show and prove.”
The shooting guard dynamo has kept in touch with Bird, whom he’s been close with since his first stint with the team.
“As the years went by, we started talking again — he said he never had given up on me,” said Stephenson. “[Bird] was probably the only guy who believed in my game… He always pushed me, always challenged me. I just want to say thank you.”
The Pacers will need Stephenson’s versatility and energy if they are to push past the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls to regain their seventh spot in the standings. The team has struggled as of late, losing their last three and dropping to eighth place, going a mere 3-7 in the last 10 games.