Jordan to Lance Stephenson: ‘We need someone that can compete against LeBron’

Former Pacer Lance Stephenson was in awe when met face-to-face with Michael Jordan, the NBA’s greatest of all time, this past summer. The Pacers’ 2010 second-round pick was an unrestricted free agent, meaning he was free to sign with any team.

The Pacers made their feelings known at a special event at the first possible moment they could during the free agency period (July 1).

To Lance, it wasn’t good enough. So he waited.

Stephenson, sporting Ian Mahinmi’s French Deal brand, signed a three-year deal with Charlotte worth $27 million.

Stephenson, who’s just 24 years old, opted to move on from the Pacers and join the Jordan-owned Charlotte Hornets.

Speaking with ESPN’s Darren Rovell on Monday, Jordan recalled his pitch to Stephenson in a Las Vegas hotel in early July.

“We need someone that can compete against LeBron. Simple as that. I don’t know if the antics was one of those things, but the thing is, I loved the way you competed against LeBron. And to me that’s a plus ’cause if you want to get out of the East, you want to get past Cleveland — at the time it was Miami — you got to beat LeBron.

“We’re willing to take a gamble with you if you are willing to take a gamble with us. Next thing you know, he’s with us.”

The message was a strong one to Stephenson, a fierce competitor. For all the knocks on him and his immaturity, he competed and legitimately believed he was the best player on the court every night.

Joining Jordan’s team, a man he admires and tries to replicate his moves, was an added bonus.

Stephenson Finally Picks Up The Tab

The Pacers were in Stephenson’s new city last week for their final exhibition game and a few of them – Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi, George Hill, Shayne Whittington, and Heather Denton (Director of Player Relations) — joined him for dinner the night before.

[Related: Hibbert fields Charlotte media’s questions about Stephenson]

“It was amazing,” Hill shared. “We miss him being around here and things like that, all the fun laughter and times that we had. To finally go out to dinner with him — it was the first bill that he paid so it was a great, free dinner. We tried to order the most expensive steaks.

“I wish him luck. I think he’s going to do a great job there. I asked him how everything was going, how his family is doing and things like that. He’s showing that he’s really maturing at a good pace. Now I told him that he’s a vet over there.”

For the most part, Hill said they kept away from discussing the upcoming NBA season and such, and instead choosing to focus on their time and experiences together.

“We talked about things that he wanted to accomplish and things like that, and how everything is going on the court,” Hill said. “But we stayed away from that, just talk about all the fun times that we had and how everything was going in his life.”

One Response to Jordan to Lance Stephenson: ‘We need someone that can compete against LeBron’
  1. […] was brought in to “compete with LeBron James” according to owner Michael Jordan, and form a strong backcourt alongside starting point guard Kemba […]