In a well-publicised moment during the Indiana Pacers’victory over the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Thursday night, Indiana guard Lance Stephenson put his hands around his throat and made a “choke” gesture from the bench, as LeBron James was attempting a free throw. The incident occurred directly after Pacer Danny Granger was tagged with a technical foul in front of the Indiana bench, after jawing with James. Granger fouled James in the open court, keeping him from making a dash to the basket. James threw up an elbow towards Granger’s head, (which he has done several times in this semifinal NBA Playoffs series), and Granger took offense. Granger and James exchanged heated words, Granger was given the technical foul, and James went to the line to shoot free throws.
James missed the technical foul shot. Stephenson, standing in front of the Indiana bench, threw up the “choke” sign in LeBron’s direction. The gesture wasn’t noticed by many at the time, but has been overblown ever since the Heat were blown out by the Pacers in game three. In an interview on Saturday, Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said that he had spoken to Stephenson, and that the second-year guard had expressed remorse for the unnecessary action.
“(Stephenson) knows it was wrong and I agreed with him 100 percent that it was wrong. He was over the line and made a mistake.”
The Pacers know that they need not throw any more ammo into the fire to inspire the Heat. Stephenson’s actions were needless, but were harmless, and kind of true. If Miami needs a useless gesture from a bench player to fire them up in this series, then they are in more trouble against these young upstart Indiana Pacers than we can possibly discuss.