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Lance who? LeBron not choked up about choke sign

By Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel –


That was LeBron James’ response Saturday when asked about seldom-used Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson giving him the “choke” sign after James missed a third-quarter free throw during the Miami Heat’s 94-75 Thursday loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Even with the video of Stephenson crossing his hands over his neck having gone viral, James insisted at Saturday’s practice he had not seen or even heard about the display on the Pacers bench.

“What happened?” he said in response to the question about the action, which came in the wake of his missed free throw following a technical foul on Pacers forward Danny Granger. “Nah, I didn’t see that.”

That made him about the only one, with ESPN offering several replays of the display during the game and then during additional programming.

“Nah, ‘cause I don’t watch TV,” James said of the break he tried to give himself following the Game 3 loss that dropped the Heat to a 2-1 deficit in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series that continues Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on the Pacers’ home court. “I haven’t been looking on social networks, so I didn’t know.”

He declined to be drawn into the conversation.

“I’m not … I’ve been there before,” he said with a pause. “I’m not going to stoop down to Lance Stephenson. Lance Stephenson? You guys want me to quote about Lance Stephenson?

“I’m not even going to give him the time. Knock it off.”

Stephenson knew he had gone to a bad place.

“I was wrong and disrespectful to my teammates, the Miami Heat and their organization,” he told after the Pacers’ Saturday practice. “I’m sorry that I did that. It was very disrespectful.”

It has been a tumultuous two-year NBA run for Stephenson, the No. 40 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Cincinnati, including a 2010 assault charge for an incident against a girlfriend that later was dismissed. He is the all-time leading prep scorer in New York state.

Saturday was the first opportunity for either to address it in detail, with the teams off Friday.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Stephenson’s apology was sincere.

“He actually came to me before I could even get to him and apologized to me for being a distraction, for having it be in the media and on SportsCenter,” Vogel said. “He knows it was wrong. I agreed with him 100 percent that it was wrong, not something that we condone.

“He’s a really good kid. He’s come a long way with his maturity in his first two years. I fully support who he is as a guy, as a player, as him being one of our guys, and I actually want that kind of enthusiasm on the bench. I just don’t want gestures that go over the top.”

Vogel did not mention any internal action.

“He was over the line,” Vogel said. “He knows he made a mistake. We’re ready to move on.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he did not show the incident to his team.

“That has no relevance to how we’re planning on getting this game (Sunday),” he said.

Chalmers fine

Guard Mario Chalmers, coming off a 25-point performance in Game 3, his career playoff high, said he is not limited by the left wrist he injured late in Thursday’s loss. X-rays were negative and he said icing has been the limit of his treatments. “The wrist feels good, feels fine,” he said of his non-shooting hand after participating in Saturday’s workout on the Pacers’ practice court. “It’s not limiting at all.” …

Spoelstra said power forward Chris Bosh continues to make strides from the lower-abdominal strain that has sidelined him since the first half of Game 1. “He’s doing more in Miami,” he said. “He’s able to do some rehab. He’s working with one of our physical therapists. He will not be here (Sunday).”

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