LeBron James vs. Lance Stephenson beef went to yet another level in the 2018 playoffs

These two will never escape each other.

The long history of LeBron James’ beef with Lance Stephenson added another chapter during Sunday’s Game 4. The duo most infamously known for Stephenson blowing in James’ ear have been brought together again in this first-round series. In Cleveland’s 104-100 win over the Indiana Pacers, they were right back on each other’s nerves.

The rivalry dates back to a 2012 playoff series between the Miami Heat and Indiana. That season, Stephenson was a role player for the Pacers and threw up a “choking sign” from the bench with both hands around his neck after James missed a free throw. Two years later, the beef intensified in the 2014 playoffs, when Stephenson had a breakout season and played heavy minutes guarding James. That’s when the unforgettable (and highly memeable) blowing-in-the-ear moment went down, and when the tensions were truly born between both sides.

As Stephenson explained later in the series in Game 6, this is his mindset when approaching James on the court: “I fear no man. You on the other team, I don’t care. I don’t care about you.”

Game 4 had several great Lance-LeBron moments

While there had been a couple smaller moments in this series, the back-and-forth between James and Stephenson really intensified in this Game 4. Here’s James picking up a frustration technical foul thanks to a shove on Stephenson.

As James explained it, this moment was like him laughing at a classmate’s joke and drawing the teacher’s attention at the wrong time.

I should’ve never got a tech in the first place. A timeout is called and a guy is following me to my bench, give him a little nudge and he falls to half court. C’mon. But I should know better, I should know better. I’ve been dealing with this since elementary. It’s like I tell you a joke and you laugh and you get caught? That’s what happened.

This all happened in the fourth quarter with six minutes remaining and the game on the line. In fact, in that moment, the technical foul shot made by Victor Oladipo pushed Indiana’s lead from two points to three.

A couple minutes later, Stephenson forced a jump ball by simply snatching the ball away when James held it a little too carelessly.

James won the tip, so no major harm was done. But man, what a moment from Stephenson, who has long been at a disadvantage in this beef since he’s a far inferior player.

Beyond that, there were a couple typical Stephenson moments that didn’t involve James, including this travel.

I don’t think James and Stephenson will ever like each other, and there’s really no reason to. But they are great foils for each other, at least. With at least two games left in this series, we’re sure to get another ridiculous moment between the two.

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