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Rick Carlisle comments prove Lance Stephenson is one of the most misunderstood players of all time

Lance Stephenson

For Carlisle, the decision was simply a no-brainer.

Let’s just state a fact: Lance Stephenson is a hell of a baller. The dude can flat-out play. But his antics take away some of that brilliance and turn off fans. Is he the most misunderstood player of all time?

From 10-day to a guaranteed contract 

Due to the Covid health and safety protocols, the NBA gave teams chances to sign additional players to 10-day contracts. The Indiana Pacers wasted no time to fish former player Lance Stephenson out of oblivion to play him for 10 days. Now, it looks like Lance will remain with the team for the rest of the season after an electrifying display in his four games playing again with his former team.

Since joining the team on January 1, Stephenson recorded a career-high in assists and dropped 20 points in the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets, proving he can still impact the games when he’s feeling it and in rhythm. 

The Pacers, currently 13th in Eastern Conference, are 1-4 with Stephenson in the lineup. But that did not factor in coach Rick Carlisle’s decision to keep his shooting guard for the rest of the season. For him, the decision was simply a no-brainer. 

“Lance has given us a different vibe as a team. The spark that he has provided, the personality…There’s a change in our team. A change in the disposition, the body language, the enthusiasm. It’s been great to see."

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Lance's addition is a breath of fresh air for a rebuilding team with little to no chance of making the playoffs this year. Fans look forward to the next great things he would do on the court. If Stephenson has once again proved he belongs to the league and can dish out brilliant numbers, why is he signed to a team only now?

Lance Stephenson’s antics take away his brilliance 

Stephenson likes to play loose. He gets his energy from the crowd, which initiates almost every good move he makes on the court. Lance played overseas after his NBA dreams ended in 2019. In China, he averaged 26.7 points, prompting fans to question what the hell he was doing outside in the NBA?

For the record, Stephenson can also do things to get under the opponents’ skin. Remember the blowing of LeBron James’ ears? Or the Shaqtin’ A Fool highlights where he was hailed as the fail MVP?

Those ill-advised plays could make any coach’s blood boil? The “What the hell was he thinking?” takes away the skills and the smart basketball brain he has. His unpredictability and inconsistencies affect his reputation as a reliable player. What version will Lance Stephenson show up? It's still a guess teams like to risk with and see what happens. 

What’s working for the Pacers so far is that coach Carlisle has let Stephenson play. He has the freedom to do all the things that he wants. Since Indiana will not likely make the postseason, there is no real pressure for Lance to perform. Playing for contenders like the Bucks, or the Nets, would have burdened the 31-year-old. Indiana is the perfect place for him, and luckily, they gave him a chance. Stephenson delivered and was rewarded a guaranteed contract he rightly deserved. Lance Stephenson has a chance to rewrite his story and change his reputation.

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