Lance Stephenson and LeBron James had intense battles during their time in the Eastern Conference. The rivalry was hotter when Bron was with the Miami Heat and Stephenson was a key piece for the Indiana Pacers led by Paul George and coached by Frank Vogel.
During the first half of the 2010s, James found a big rival in Stephenson who guarded him several times during their encounters. Even though The King won most of their duels, Lance made sure to make life hard for the 4x NBA champion.
He wasn't shy when guarding LeBron by going at him with everything he had and playing much more physically than other players. Talking with HoopsHype, Lance discussed how he guarded LeBron and the difference between him and other players.
Talk a little bit about your battles with LeBron. What was it like guarding him, and being that physical with him?
LS: A lot of guys are scared of him. They don’t want to play him too hard, it’s like they don’t want to really compete with him. So, I always took it as a test, ‘Let me see what he can really do, is he really that good?’ You know how sometimes you see somebody and you’re like, ‘Man, if I put pressure on him, what is he going to do, if I push him what is he going to do?’ I was testing him and seeing how hard he can compete. If he would bow out or bow down. And guys like that, with that type of talent, never bow down. It was a learning experience, playing and competing against the best.
Stephenson was teammates with James during the 2018/19 season, something unthinkable for the players during their days in the East. He also touched on that even more, confirming he was skeptical about joining forces with No. 6.
Years later you became teammates with the Lakers. Would you ever thought that from blowing in his ear in the ECF, you would be teammates in LA?
LS: No, I didn’t think that will happen. It was a great experience learning from all the veterans that were on that team. I feel like we had a lot of guys that helped me out and led me to the game that I know now.
Now the dynamic between them is completely different. They developed a good relationship with the Lakers, and Bron showed that when he trolled Stephenson and his 'sugar daddy haircut' in 2020. After their intense battles, they're cool, although Lance never played in the league since that lone season with the purple and gold.