Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams suited up to join the NBA TV crew as an analyst for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, but found himself addressing an Eastern Conference issue. As a former teammate of LeBron James, Williams was asked to talk about why The King would trash talk Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson. James and Stephenson have been seen jawing on the court, and while James has smartly ignored the media, Stephenson has made that more difficult for him by indulging it.
“One thing I’m not going to do is give y’all a story line. I’m not going to do that. This is the Pacers vs. the Heat. I don’t get involved in that.”
“I’m doing something right and I’m getting under his skin. I definitely have to keep stepping up to the plate and be aggressive when he does that.”
Williams explained that James is not weak, but is caught in a mental game. Of course, you knew that, I knew that, and your oblivious buddy that thought James played for the Cleveland Browns inherently knew it too. However; framed in the context of his own run-in with Houston Rockets rookie Troy Daniels, Williams’ insight was more illuminating.
“He came out lighting us up, making all kinds of shots, and my thing was, ‘Let me get him some attention. Let me get the reporters in his locker room asking him about me that has nothing to do with the game.’ Now all his homeboys gotta call him, all his friends, his mom, his sister—everybody. ‘What’s going on? Is something wrong with you guys?’ There’s nothing wrong with us. The thing is, it’s all a tactic, and that’s what Lance Stephenson is trying to do.”
Stephenson knows that James is not going to lose his composure on the court past an exchange of words, but he is creating a distraction. While James is trying to focus on the task at hand, everyone is asking him about his beef with Stephenson. It is all about breaking his focus off the court. James will keep shrugging the media off as best he can and Stephenson will keep feeding off the hype. Stephenson is trying to give himself an advantage in the most annoying way possible.
As the series continues, he will continue prodding James for a reaction to inflame the media. Who will get dogged with more questions about it in this circumstance? The decent player who talks about the “incident” openly, or the best player in the world trying to keep quiet? If James says anything at any point, it is a juicier story than if Stephenson is merely added to the list of peasants hurling rocks at the throne. As long as there is something to talk about, James has to wade through more garbage while the Pacers benefit.