We all know the story. Lance Stephenson was picked by the Pacers in the 2010 NBA draft after his hometown team passed on him TWO times in the middle of the 2nd round. I repeat, TWO times the Knicks passed on him. They passed on the highest scoring high school basketball player in New York city history. In the 2nd round! Two times! Not surprisingly, I had no idea who the nicknamed "Born Ready" actually was. I've never been a big time college basketball fan, and I've never followed top recruits, but like I always do, I research into the past and life of the Pacers draft picks as much as I can. Being a big time Pacers fan, I visualize their highest potential while entering into a chimerical state of wild imagination. None of the past experiences I've had with evaluating Pacers rookies even came close to Lance Stephenson's. I saw the potential, the youtube videos of him in high school from 2007. I even witnessed him in 8th grade throwing the ball off the backboard and dunking it on a fast break. No, the Pacers have never had such a high potential player like Lance Stephenson. Why do you think Larry Bird praises him so much? Why do you think he called him the best player on this team just a few years ago?
Anyone can have the physical talent. Anyone can be born with special abilities that seperate them from most of the competition. This is what makes these certain people professional athletes. But when an individual doesn't have the right mentality to match with the superior athletic ability, the weaknesses in the mentality cancel out the abilities. The player doesn't become as good as he can possibly be, and they usually end up on a top 10 list, one that usually deals with all time wasted talent.
This is my concern with Lance Stephenson. We all knew about the place he grew up. It's a tough city. He went to the same High School as Stephon Marbury. Yeah, the Stephon Marbury who played a few good years, earned a $100 million dollar contract, and didn't do much after that. Sometimes Lance Stephenson seems TOO emotional. Sure, we love the energy he brings. It helps the team during dull moments when they don't seem to have anything going. He's the spark. The igniter. The match. He is usually the who starts our big time scoring flurries that we have layed upon most of the competition this year. But what happens when we're losing? What happens when nothing is going right? What goes through his mind when a teammate makes a mistake? The same level of emotion is still there, and sometimes it hurts his game.
You saw it last night against the Nuggets, when he received the technical, and even when he got up to give a little stare down to randy foye after a scramble on the floor for the basketball. Yes, Lance Stephenson's play has been a lot more consistent this year, but so have these outbursts, technicals, and altercations that he's been creating with players. His mindset seems to be on "Thug Mode". His New York personality and high level of emotion on the basketball court is taking over his talent and consuming him.
Lance has been playing spectacular basketball as of late. I'm quite sure you Pacers fans witnessed what he did last night in the 1st half against the Nuggets. Those were some all NBA type of plays. I can't remember the last time a Pacers player, or perhaps any NBA player, made my jaw drop. This guy has incredible talent, and it'd be a shame to see it go to waste because of his mentality. I only pray that he learns how to compose and control himself. I only pray that he uses his brain more on the basketball court. That's all I ask. If he conquers the mental aspect of his game, then we might have a top 5 player on our hands. All we can do is hope.