LeBron James made sure the Los Angeles Lakers immediately bounced back after one of their most disappointing performances of the season the night prior. James finished with 51 points in the Lakers’ 113-97 victory over the Miami Heat.
James surpassed that 50-point mark with just seconds remaining in the game, knocking down a deep 3-pointer to give the Lakers their final margin of victory and then pointing at the bench afterwards. As it turns out, that was directed toward teammate Lance Stephenson.
James spoke after the game, revealing that Stephenson dared him to shoot that final three, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Lance told me to finish the game off and, ‘I bet you won’t shoot a three.’ He said, ‘Go for the three. I bet you won’t go for the three.’ So I went for the three. So I was pointing right at Lance. … That’s my guy now. We’re on the same side.”
It has been interesting to watch James and Stephenson embrace each other as teammates after years of battling as fierce rivals in the Eastern Conference. Most famously, Stephenson blew in the ear of James during the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals in a moment that has forever been immortalized on social media, but there were plenty of altercations between the two over the years.
Now as teammates in Los Angeles, the two have come together in what seems like the most unlikely duo in recent years. Stephenson brings an edge and fearlessness to the Lakers that the team needs, and James recognizes and appreciates that.
Similar to Kobe Bryant bringing in rivals like Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace and ultimately trusting them more than most, LeBron and Lance have been able to come together, after years of battle, for a common goal.