This fictional conversation between Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Pacers guard Lance Stephenson took place between Game 2 and Game 3 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. Let’s imagine we’re on the team bus, headed to catch the plane down to Miami.
FV: (sitting down next to Lance) How you feeling, my man Lance?
LS: (removing headphones) All good, Voges. All good.
FV: What you listening to?
LS: Podcast. Some astronomy wisdom. Neil de Grasse Tyson is the best.
FV: Excellent. I love the stars. You know I studied biology at Kentucky? But I always loved the cosmos more than the animal world…You ever sleep under the stars?
LS: Summer hoops camp one year. Think I was 15. They took us out of the city, somewhere upstate. It was tight. Just staring up there. I don’t think I slept that night. No girls, but I was too in awe to sleep.
FV: I love it.
LS: Been thinking about this Game 3, Voges.
FV: Me, too. We gotta have it. Going to be a grind, but we got to take it to ’em.
LS: I know…I doubt PG is going to be right. Well…he’s gonna be foggy, you know?
FV: We’ll see.
LS: I can carve them up, Voges. I can handle it. I can keep the ball moving, just like Game 1.
FV: I know you can. We need you to. We gotta zip that rock around the perimeter, make them over commit. Get to the line.
LS: Gotta get to the line. Slow the pace down on them.
FV: Right! Gotta play at our pace.
LS: You know what, Voges?
FV: What’s that?
LS: Larry called me last night. He told me to remember how hard we worked last summer. How many shots we put up. All those dribbling drills. He told me to think about the arc of my career like its a jump shot. To think about the fact that I’m still rising up. And to play free and easy, finding my teammates, sharing it.
FV: Good advice, don’t you think?
LS: Of course. It was just good to hear him say it, you know? All the ups and downs. We all believe in each other. He believes in me.
FV: I believe in you, too. LS. We all need you.
LS: I need y’all, too.
LS: We’re gonna do it, Voges.
LS: We’re gonna shut ’em all up.
LS: Gonna listen to Tyson talk about the stars some more (puts his headphones back on).
Game 3: Saturday night, 830pm EST (ESPN)
Game 4: Monday night, 830pm EST (ESPN)
Game 5: Wednesday night, 830pm EST (ESPN)
In case you missed it from last May:
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Bird-Stephenson mentorship: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba–larry-bird-s-faith-in-lance-stephenson-pays-off-for-pacers-in-vital-moments-against-knicks-080325704.html
Grantland’s Andrew Sharp – Guide to LS: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-ultimate-guide-to-lance-stephenson/