Lance Stephenson vs LeBron James: Talking Trash

Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson talking smack to an opponent is nothing out of the ordinary.

It’s actually normal for the feisty shooting guard to engage in verbal warfare on the court.

LeBron James talking back to him makes it news.

The four time MVP doesn’t need to acknowledge his presence other than simply guarding him. Lance goes as far as saying it is a “sign of weakness” for him to respond.

Everyone has their own style. Michael Jordan for example certainly wasn’t averse to trash talking to his opposite number. Reggie Miller took pride in his ability to get into the head of an adversary. It just isn’t in LeBron’s nature however.

James usually lets his play do the talking or laughs it off; remember his “yeeeeah!” in the face of Kevin Garnett’s intimidation tactics.

It has led to suggestions by some that Stephenson is getting inside LeBron's head, and brings back memories of the 2011 Finals series against the Mavericks. Their confrontational style – especially that of Jason Terry and Deshawn Stevenson, drew attention to LeBron and his mental strength as he sought ways to deal with their tactics.

LeBron maintains that he can get involved with the talking and still fully concentrate on the task at hand while others question the wisdom of Lance provoking such an explosive player.

Animosity between the pair has history. During a 2012 game three in the Eastern Conference first round he directed a choke sign toward LeBron – this was when it was still fashionable to label him as a choker who withered under pressure. He got clotheslined for his troubles by reserve Derek Pittman.

Lebron vs Stephenson is hardly going to be the series’ deciding factor, but for entertainment reasons its worth keeping an eye on.