Thursday, May 29, 2014
H.S. coach: Stephenson blow classic Lance
By Ian Begley
Some NBA fans may have been surprised when Lance Stephenson blew into LeBron James' ear Wednesday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
But to those who know the Brooklyn-born Stephenson best, it was just an example of Lance being Lance.
"I wasn't surprised because Lance is a basketball player, and if he thought that was an edge [he's going to use it]. He was probably using that as an edge," said Dwayne (Tiny) Morton, Stephenson's coach at Lincoln High School in Coney Island, New York. "I also know a little bit about LeBron, and I think he probably knew exactly what Lance was trying to do."
|Lance Stephenson's coach at Lincoln says his former player will do anything to get an edge.|
So what was Morton's immediate reaction?
"I definitely laughed. I was laughing. It was definitely funny," he said over the phone Thursday. "It was just funny to be honest. ... He did what he had to do to get an edge."
Just how much of an edge Stephenson created is debatable. James could be seen smiling after Stephenson blew in his ear. Dwyane Wade and James laughed off Stephenson’s antics after the game.
Ray Allen called the ploy “buffoonery.”
In high school, Stephenson was well-known around the city as a player who would do what it took to get an edge on the court.
"He'd do what he tactically can to piss somebody off, to get them off balance," said Morton, who is now an assistant at Seton Hall. "It was effective; he caught the [opponents] off guard."
Stephenson won four city public school titles at Lincoln and finished his prep career as the state's all-time leading scorer.
He's grown into a versatile NBA player and has a pivotal role with the Pacers, which is more than what was expected for the 40th overall pick in the 2010 draft.
I wasn't surprised because Lance is a basketball payer and if he thought that was an edge [he's going to use it]. He was probably using that as an edge.
-- Former Lincoln coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton
"We always thought he would be an NBA player -- we just didn't know which way he would get into the NBA," Morton said. "We're definitely not surprised, especially not his father. We all had the confidence that he was on that level."
Stephenson spends much of his time in Indiana these days. But when he's back in Brooklyn, Morton says the kid known as Born Ready comes back to the school to visit with players and coaches.
"He's grounded right now, which is great," Morton said.
Stephenson’s recent play -- and antics -- have been must-see TV for those who knew Lance in Coney Island.
"It's fun, it's fun for the neighborhood," Morton said. "I'm happy that we have a chance to go out on Friday night to watch the game again."
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.