Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 4:05 pm  |  39 responses

Bird: ‘I’m Pretty Bullish on Lance Stephenson’

Despite not having played a single regular season minute in the NBA, Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird seems to have some lofty expectations for the 6-5 guard out of Brooklyn, NY. The former McDonald’s All American has battle some off-court issues, including a second-degree assault charge for an alleged scuffle with his girlfriend in the summer. Heading into the NBA All-Star break, the Pacers have won seven of their last 10 games after new head coach Frank Vogel took the helm from Jim O’Brien, who was fired on January 30th. With the coaching change, many have expected for the Pacers to shuffle the rotation and give other guys a chance to play, including Stephenson. In a Q&A with the Pacers’ official website, where Bird discussed his team’s latest run and future, he brought up NYC’s All-Time high school leading scorer when asked about identifying the core of his team moving forward:

“Well, I’m pretty bullish on Lance Stephenson. If he’s going to be what I think he’s going to be – I already know Paul (George) is going to be there – maybe it’s just two. I think the kid’s got a chance to be very special. And I think Paul’s going to be special. And we’ve got the money to go fill out this team and be very competitive in this league.”

For all of those who counted Born Ready out, it seems like Bird might be ready to give him the chance.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Well they’ve been saying this since they fired O’Brien but Lance has still yet to see the court..

  • http://sdfklf.com Jukai

    One of the few players in the NBA I actively root against.

  • SwaGG_SeaN

    Born ready apparently isn’t ready yet, kid been getting praises and he hasn’t even done anything yet plus his off court issues make him less alluring.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    The Pacers are playing well because of Roy Hibbert–watch for this guy to make some All-Star waves next season.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Oh yeah, and the Raptors drafted him. Then traded him for Jermaine O’Neal. Gotta love the Raptors’ front office.

  • http://slamonline.com Eldon Khorshidi

    This just made my week, if not month. Let’s. Go.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Love it.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Bird is real.
    Stephenson is real.
    Lance will get his chance.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    No disrespect to Jermaine O’Neal though. Injuries are the worst part of this game.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Born Ready, except for the NBA.

  • D-WES

    Lance wasn’t Born Ready to play!

  • http://google c_cantrell

    dude has game.. cant wait to see him on the court.. this might just give me a reason to start watchin some pacers games

  • ionmic

    He was born ready he wasnt necessarilt born with an opportunity. So much of the NBA is about players getting an opportunity and what they make of it.

    I hope this kid sorts his head out and becomes the player he was born to be

  • MikeC.

    Born Ready…to throw women down a flight of stairs.

  • Yes man

    Yeah… def wouldnt rush this… Born Ready been having is Ego stroked since he could probably remember. Dont want that ego to ruin what could be something special. He needs to learn from Iverson.. even though A.i was pretty successful theres room for improvement.

  • http://staticseth.blogspot.com Seth

    Geez, haha @MikeC

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    I daresay if Stephenson wasn’t charged with assault he’d be part of the rotation already. He was signed to a three-year deal after the Summer League, but it seems like the Pacers put him on ice for awhile until it all blew over. He might even debut next season.

  • Turk

    Go Pacers, collison, granger , Roy Hibbbert, George all good…reason they have started playing beeter is Dahanty Jones getting Posey`s minutes. Pacers are on the right track. NYC fan`s enjoy Donnie Walsh (give him a chance, it takes 3-4 years for him to build a Champ-style team) Bird`s the same way

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    kid has a lot of growing to do. Extremely talented kid, with lots of potential. But we just have to see how much he wants to be great, we haven’t seen any of that yet, but lets remember he’s 19 years old. Why would anyone root against a 19 year old?????

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    @Jukai…..a 19 year old fam?? We are rooting against 19 year olds now?

  • http://gregoden.com roybot

    i hope this guy changes for the better and makes it in the league cus people are hating on him for the way he was brought up. Has the talent, all he needs is to be mentally tougher and avopid the off-court problems that seem to follow every NY ball player(Sorry for the stereotype).

  • Dagger

    @The Black Rick Kamla: we’re excusing domestic assault and sexual assault for 19 year olds now?

  • Dagger

    . . . and yet we’re more than ready to crucify a 25-year-old for announcing his new team on a tv show that benefits a local charity? Wow.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    @Dagger who said we are excusing it??? If anything you wish for him to grow and turn his life around. And I realize you were speaking in generalizations in that last comment about Lebron; but you’d be mistaking to think I would ever think of ‘crucifying’ another man period, let alone over that man making a simple business decision.

  • Dave19

    Dagger, no one is advocating what he did. I think the point is we are rooting for him to succeed.. Aka, learn from his mistakes. You are the one who is trying to pin his past to him… No one is advocating it. I’ve never hit a girl.. But rooting against him on those grounds is pure childishness… On your part. No, we quietly discipline and CORRECT our young… Not make them pariahs! And the slow, disciplinary route is the route Larry is taking. So good job Larry, on using your life to help a 19 year old make his into what it should be. His background has made him into a man that could push a woman down stairs, and our parents raised us better, because their parents raised them better. Love, support, correction, are what he needs.. Not to be judged for one mistake by some punk on the internet who has never met him, or knows what his life has been like. You want to curse this kids future (Aka wish bad things on him) for his being imperfect in his actions… Yet the way you handle it shows yourself broken as well. You are not the man you condemn him for failing to be… So what right do you have? This is was Jesus spoke of when He said ‘let He is without sin cast the first stone.’ think about all that next time your tongue starts to speak poorly of a man you do not know.

  • greg

    i think he can recover from this but makes you wonder, why he did what he did? i think the team should worry more about his obvious anger issues, because you cannot be a successful professional in any field if you cannot control your emotions. look at ron ron he fd his whole life up until he changed. so no matter how good he is you can just say something or get away with a dirty play on him and he will explode, i hope he doesnt play against kobe because that will be his last game. he needs some serious therapy before he resumes basketball….. i sincerly hope he eats some serious food when he gets his life together

  • http://Www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Boy has been practicing and that’s where teams get better. I trust Birds eyes. Happy Birthday Mike.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Dave19: I agree that the emphasis should be on rehabilitation. But rehabilitation comes with REAL discipline and REAL consequences. The only “consequences” Lance Stephenson faces for pushing his girlfriend down a flight of steps is some media backlash and not being able to play A FREAKING GAME OF BASKETBALL WHILE STILL GETTING PAID HIS CONTRACT IN FULL.
    Please, save your pity and overzealous piety for someone who needs it. Unless YOU actually know the kid. You seem like a good person, and already I respect you, but please, save it.

  • http://sdfklf.com Jukai

    I’m not allowed to root against a person who pushed a woman down a flight of stairs and then beat on her head and yet keeps his multi-million dollar NBA contract even though he hasn’t played a second in the NBA? And why the focus on age, 19-year-olds should know well enough you don’t push your girl down a flight of stairs the same way 32-year-olds know you don’t push your girl down a flight of stairs.
    I know dudes who went to prison for less, people I considered good kids. Why should I root for this brat?

  • http://sdfklf.com Jukai

    I’m not going to irrationally hate on this guy all my life, but the onus is on him to change the public perception of his character. Until he does that, I’m still gonna hope this kid gets a wakeup call out of the league.

  • Coggie13

    I just want to see good basketball. Its like the games turning into jersey shore with all the drama.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Consign Jukai on everything, he should be out of the league, telling the neighborhood kids one day, I could have been this if my head was on straight. I have no love for the kid and Bird keeping him is funny. I hope he has a mentor working with him and try to find something to live for and worry about improving his mind. Kid might can ball, but I seen and knew a alot of people like him, it takes a real fall for him to get back up. If I was Bird and he can play back in NBA, put him in the Development league and make him earn his spot back!!!

  • http://twincityslim@yahoo.com Jahi

    Lance would have benefitted from one more season at Cincy. The guy has a great skill set, but not everyone is ready to bring their game to the NBA. In fact, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Lance in the D-League, respectively. Another season in college would have made Lance a lottery pick. Hopefully, things work out for Born ready, but the NBA is unforgiving…it’s a business.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Was he convicted when I wasn’t looking? Seems like many people avoid punishment until conviction. Oh and rooting for someone to fail in life is fairly wack when all you know about thembis what you read on the net. I can see fail in a situation but at life? That is harsh.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    People who beat on women should get absolutely no respect or due ever. Fck Lance Stephenson, hope he fails big time.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I would expect you to recognize the difference between an accusation and a conviction.
    I agree that woman beaters are despicable, but I don’t like labeling somebody as something until I’ve seen where they’ve admitted to it, or at least been convicted of it.

  • datruthnyc

    Just give the kid a chance… Bird wouldn’t have brought him to the pacers if he didn’t know what he was doing…stop all the talk and let this kid earn his way…it would help his maturation 100% PUT HIM IN COACH!!!!!



  • http://jamison526@aol.com Jimmy G

    Alright Bird. It’s good to see the old legend stick up for his players, even if it may be a guy who may have had a couple of chances too many. So he’s not tired of Stephenson yet.

    If Stephenson can get his act together, he might churn out a career. He can score, handle the rock, rebound, and pass, he just needs to work on shooting and defense. Work on those things and he’ll get his chance to succeed. I think his attitude will be reflective of how far he gets. Work hard, be humble to vets, and he’ll stick and get good minutes. If not, he could bounce around as a journeyman, fringe rotation guy for years. Time will tell. We’ll see how well he’ll play in the league.