Just hours after admitting his comments about LeBron James prior to Game 4 may have been out of line, Stephenson was at it again, pulling off a series of stunts that clearly had the Heat exasperated after Game 5. The 23-year-old went deep into his bag of tricks, sneaking into a Heat huddle to troll Erik Spoelstra and also flopping all over the place.
But the coup de grâce was when Stephenson leaned over close to James and blew in his ear:
James, in the middle of arguably the worst playoff game of his career, could only laugh it off. After the game, CNN's Rachel Nichols asked James if he had ever tried to blow in somebody's ear as a "defensive tactic." James gave quite the cheeky response, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY:
"Probably my wife. I blew in my wife's ear before," James said. "That was definitely a defensive tactic."
If only Nichols would have pressed on.
Earlier in the presser, James tried to take the high road when discussing Stephenson's antics, saying he doesn't really pay much attention to them:
"We put ourselves in a position to win tonight, and as competitors, as professionals, that's what we are," James said. "At the end of the day, we put ourselves in a position to win. All the extra, whatever Lance wants to deal with, I don't really care about that.
"Lance is Lance. He's going to do what he needs to do to help his team win. As leaders of our team, we're going to do what it takes to help our team win."
However, others were not so kind in their analysis of Stephenson's "show." Take Ray Allen for example:
Ray Allen on Lance Stephenson's antics: "It's just buffoonery."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 29, 2014
Like James, Allen said Stephenson's zaniness doesn't throw the Heat off their game. Whether that's true or not could be up for debate, and perhaps there's a good reason, other than the foul trouble, why James didn't have his best performance:
Paul George on Stephenson: "I hope his breath wasn't too bad for 'Bron."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 29, 2014
Stephenson likely won't be stopping his act any time soon. He essentially said so himself, according to Skolnick:
"My plan was to get into their head, get under their skin and play physical basketball, and help my teammates win the game," he said. "Just playing physical basketball and do whatever it takes to get the W. My teammates had my back. We all played good. I'm just happy we got the W tonight."
So expect Stephenson's trolling to continue into Game 6. Of course, also expect James to come out with the fury after his dud of a performance. And if James and the Heat dispatch the Pacers, perhaps the four-time MVP will turn the tables on Stephenson and troll him as a parting gift.