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For whatever reason, the city of Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana has a special love affair with Lance Stephenson.
Yes, the same guy who wants did the “choke sign” to LeBron James after missing free throws in a playoff game.
Yes, the same guy who left us in 2014 to make a music video and join the Hornets.
And now, he’s leaving for good. Not only leaving, but leaving to join the guy we love to hate.
Lance leaving is a tough pill to swallow without a doubt, but his time as a Pacer definitely didn’t go without it’s fair share of memories. Here are 7 of the best Lance moments from the second Born Ready era.
Comparing His Pacers Return to Michael Jordan Returning to the NBA
If someone asked you to describe Lance in one sentence, this probably should be it.
Our very own Michael Grady was interviewing Lance after he re-signed with the Pacers on a new deal in the spring of 2017. He had bounced around on like five teams after leaving Charlotte, but did that change Lance’s mind about Born Ready’s ability? Nope. Not one bit.
The Birth of The “Lance Effect”
When Lance returned to the Pacers for his second stint in 2017, the Pacers were meh at best. Kind of going through the motions, underachieving, and looking for anything to bring them alive a little bit.
In his first game back with the Pacers, Lance played 25 minutes, scored 12 points, added three assists and the Pacers dominated Toronto 108-90. And to cap it all off, he did what Lance does best…took a little too far.
The Air Guitar
Lance has always had a plethera of celebrations. For a while it was the hip thrust. We’ve seen him kiss a basketball after making a shot. But none of them really stuck like the “air guitar” celebration this year. Any time there was a no-look pass, a nasty crossover, or a big three that got the crowd on it’s feet, you knew the air guitar would be played.
The best one, though, had to be during the Game 6 rout of the Cavs during the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. It was subtle, but being in front of the Cleveland bench was perfect.
The And-1 Shoulder Shrug vs. Brooklyn
It was two nights before Christmas, and boy did Lance deliver a show. In the fourth quarter, the Pacers were leading, but the outcome was still in doubt, and he provided the spark.
Swipes the ball at the top of the key, picks it up, goes coast-to-coast to lay it in, AND draws the foul. Plus, he knows exactly where the camera is and hits them with the old-school shoulder shrug providing the perfect “when you see how many Christmas gifts are under the tree” tweet.
The Technical Foul On LeBron During The Comeback
Games in January are typically like the month of January: long, boring, and just kind of blah. This one seemed to be heading that way when the Pacers found themselves down 20+ after the first quarter to LeBron and the Cavs.
But, per usual for the 2017-2018 Pacers, a 20 point deficit wasn’t enough. They climbed their way back behind a bonkers Bankers Life Fieldhouse (say that five times fast), and early in the fourth quarter Lance hit a three to give the Pacers the lead. LeBron wasn’t having any of Lance up in his face, so he gave him a light shove, and much to the delight of greater central Indiana, LeBron was given a tech.
The Pacers went on to win.
Full-Court Pass + Flyin’ Like An Eagle vs. Philly
On the night before Super Bowl 52, Lance pulled out his best Eagle impersonation after completing a Nick Foles-esque pass down court to Thad Young. Philly calls a timeout, and Lance got his wings flying.
The Steal vs. LeBron
Honestly, the whole list could have just been made from encounters he had with LeBron. That’s why we loved him so much. He didn’t want to be buddies with guys like LeBron, or hug them after the game. It’s a little weird now to think about them being teammates. The combinination of Lance + LeBron in Hollywood has the Lakers definitely being back to “Showtime”.
Even though the Pacers ended up blowing the lead down the stretch in this Game 4, this play says it all about Lance, his relationship with the Pacers fans, and his dog-fight approach to the best player in the world.
If the rivalry was still on, the Indianapolis Museum of Art should have taken that snapshot of Lance holding the ball high in the air with a frustrated LeBron by his side, and hung it up inside forever.
So long, Lancey. We will miss your nightly entertainment, your love for this state, and for this team. Who knows? Maybe we will see you back again. After all, you did only sign a one-year deal…