After learning LeBron James would join them via free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers quickly moved to fill out their roster in a manner that differed from teams he’d previously played for. Among the Lakers’ newest additions was Lance Stephenson, known for being an adversary of James’.
The latest battle between James and Stephenson came in this year’s playoffs, when the Indiana Pacers pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the first round. Stephenson utilized his typical prodding ways to incite fans at Quicken Loans Arena and excite those at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
That James and Stephenson would wind up teammates a few months later seemed improbable if not impossible. “It was actually funny that I am actually on the same team,” answered Stephenson when asked on a conference call about playing alongside James.
“I am very excited to see what that brings and just playing with him, one of the best players to play the game, is going to be amazing. I was actually surprised he made the move to L.A. I guess he needed a new look. I feel like just him reaching out and showing that he likes what I bring to the game is amazing. I just can’t wait to be on the floor with him, actually get on the court with him.”
Stephenson fits a specific mold the Lakers were in search of this offseason — a versatile player capable of bringing a defensive presence and offensive threat.
“They want me to bring the intensity I bring every night, be a leader to the young guys, just bringing that winning mentality to the team. I’m happy to be on board,” Stephenson said.
He’s looking forward to playing in an uptempo offense that won’t lack for ball handlers in James, Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball and even Stephenson. “It’s going to give us a great advantage,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of unselfish guys and winning guys. And the really young guys play the same way. We’ve got a lot of potential, we have a lot of different ways we can win games. I feel like we’re definitely going to show that this season.”
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