INDIANAPOLIS – Before the Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson had time to study an endless scroll of congratulatory texts on Saturday night, there promised to be a most meaningful message awaiting him. Out of sight this season, Larry Bird has never been out of touch.
As Pacers president three years ago, Bird drafted a dysfunctional 19 year old and surrounded him with the perfect balance of tough love, structure and tenderness. As everyone else derided Stephenson as a lost cause, Bird privately called him the most gifted player in the franchise.
"I owe Larry Bird so much," Stephenson told Yahoo! Sports late Saturday.
Bird left the franchise for his Florida home at the end of last season, but the kid has stayed strongly in Bird's mind and heart. Stephenson was standing in an emptying locker room at Bankers Life Field House, on the way to the Eastern Conference finals with the game of his life complete: 25 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
The New York Knicks had gone down in Game 6Read More »from Larry Bird's faith in Lance Stephenson pays off for Pacers in vital moments against Knicks