Indiana Pacers: Lance Stephenson discusses G-League, guarding LeBron, and title hunger

Indiana Pacers, Lance Stephenson - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Lance Stephenson - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

While it has been almost four years since Lance Stephenson last donned the Blue and Gold, it is inarguable that he is still widely cherished by Indiana Pacers fans and the Circle City in general. After all, he was a significant part of some of the franchise’s most successful campaigns in the 2010s.

Currently out of the NBA loop, the veteran journeyman has slid into the next chapter of his career with the NBA G-League. Now playing for the Grand Rapids Gold after being selected 13th overall in the minor league’s proprietary draft, Stephenson still believes that he has a lot left in the tank to become a contributor to an NBA club, with his eyes set on a return to the league at some point.

In an interview with Betway Insider’s Jack Green, Born Ready discussed how he is embracing his role as a leader for a young G-League team in the present while reminiscing about his Pacers days, smoke-filled matchups with LeBron James and the Heat, and his championship aspirations.

Lance Stephenson cherishes spark-filled tenure with the Indiana Pacers

While Lance Stephenson is on a personal mission for an NBA comeback, he remarked how his duty as a veteran leader for his G-League team has been a big shift from his experiences in the league, where he was guided by widely respected veterans, even pointing to former Indiana Pacers forward David West as his greatest teammate.

"He was a leader and was always doing the right thing on the floor. Even watching film, man, I used to try to find things that he was doing wrong and could never find anything! How he approached the game, he kept his body in shape at all times.He was always there to give me the advice that I needed and helped me be a better player on the court. It’s always good to have that older guy, the older veteran guy who knows the game and I just felt he was trustworthy."

Lance then touched on how the Indiana Pacers flirted with the championship twice in 2013 (won by Miami), and 2014 (won by San Antonio), before being thwarted by the Miami Heat superteam headlined by LeBron James on both occasions. Tasked with being the primary defender on James for the most part in their heated matchups, Stephenson noted how great of a challenge it was dealing with the King.

"It was a great challenge. My teammates said: ‘Pick up on him, don’t let him get nothing easy, we’re gonna have your back.’ And I knew from the jump that they weren’t just gonna have me playing one-on-one with him."

Although Stephenson eventually teamed up with LeBron with the Lakers in the 2018-19 season, their only campaign as part of the same roster didn’t even finish in a playoff appearance. To date, Lance is still without an NBA title, a missing part of his resume that he aspires to achieve before he walks away from the game.

However, he is not skipping any steps, as shown by how he has embraced setting the tone for a team of youngsters similarly gunning to be called up to the NBA and his emphasis on staying ready for when an opportunity for him to make his NBA return presents itself.

"My motivation is to be the best player I can possibly be. Be in the best shape, be one of the leaders on the team. Definitely helping the younger guys, having fun out there winning games and getting a ring. Man, before I retire I want an NBA ring."

Lance Stephenson may not be with the Indiana Pacers anymore, but he’s certainly made a name for himself as one of the most memorable players in franchise history. Who knows, if the time is right, maybe the anticipated reunion between him and the franchise could eventually be more than wishful thinking.

Until then, I wish for his success on finding an NBA home once more after his G-League stint. I truly believe that his all-around game and veteran presence could still command attention from and be valuable for one of the association’s 30 teams.

For more of the interview, check out Betway Insider’s exclusive interview with Lance Stephenson here.

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