DimeMag

Video: MJ’s Pitch To Lance Stephenson, “We Need To Challenge LeBron”

While Michael Jordan wasn’t so clear on changing the Charlotte Bobcats to the Charlotte Hornets, which goes into effect starting with this season, he was pretty set on targeting Lance Stephenson in free agency this summer. That’s what he made clear in his Sunday conversation with ESPN’s Darren Rovell and his one-on-one with Stephanie Ready of Hornets.com.

According to MJ, the Hornets nabbed the former Pacers wing with on a three-year deal this summer primarily because of the way he competed against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. That may surprise many who believed Lance’s antics were juvenile attempts to unseat the two-time defending champs.

Here’s MJ with Rovell:

“We needed someone that can compete against LeBron. Simple as that. I don’t know if the antics were one of those things, but the thing was, I loved the way you competed against LeBron. And too me that’s a plus. And, if you want to get out of the East, you have to get past Cleveland — at the time it was Miami — you gotta beat LeBron. So, we’re willing to take a gamble with you, if you’re willing to take a gamble with us. Next thing you know, he’s with us.”

The antics were childish, even if the Internet loved them:

//platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

But, he did compete against LeBron, even if James and the Heat had the final say with an unruffled 4-2 series win. MJ elucidated even more of his thinking behind the Lance signing and how it ties to dethroning LeBron regardless of what team he plays on in the East in a one-on-one with Ready of Hornets.com, and captured below by Fox Sports 1. Here’s what he said:

“I love Lance. I love the way he has a strong challenge for the game. A lot of people may look at him and remember the antics against LeBron. I think that I looked at it in a totally different way. For us to be successful in the East, we need to challenge LeBron and any team that LeBron is playing on. If I can find a play that’s going to challenge LeBron, in a way that’s not going to take away from the overall aspect of what we try to do as a team, to me that’s a plus.

And it’s a lot of question marks, I’m sure a lot of people said, ‘well, he’s got a lot of different feelings — he’s got a lot of antics with him. We haven’t seen that. We’ve seen nothing but positive things about Lance. And I think coach [Steve Clifford] feels strongly about him and I do, too. I think he’s going to be an integral part to the success of this franchise — hopefully this year.”

Lance regretted saying he was in LeBron’s head last postseason, and James certainly took it to heart and responded accordingly.

But it sounds like MJ wants his Bobcats Hornets to be title contenders out of the East, and he knows the only way you do that is if you have someone who can battle LeBron. Despite his behavior in the Conference Finals, Lance gives Charlotte that player.

Will Lance actually battle LeBron in the playoffs this season?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

×