Entering Game 3, Indiana reserve guard Lance Stephenson had not played a single minute in the NBA playoff series between his Pacers and the Miami Heat. Despite having a terrific seat, he had been just another spectator. After LeBron James missed a technical free throw late in the third quarter as the Heat tried to keep up with the Pacers, Stephenson went right ahead and acted like so many spectators do.
He mocked LBJ.
As bench players spilled on to the court during a timeout following James' missed foul shot, Stephenson lifted his hands to his throat to make the universal "choke" sign as he stared toward the Heat bench.
After Stephenson's teammates continued to overwhelm the Heat for the next several minutes, the 21-year-old actually managed to get himself a bit of playing time. With 1:12 remaining the fourth quarter, Stephenson made his second appearance of the 2012 playoffs. He missed his only shot attempt before the buzzer sounded on Indiana's 94-75 win. It doesn't seem like James made any sort of antagonistic gesture after that miss.
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Stephenson is not the first Pacers player to make this hand gesture during the playoffs. During Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Pacers legend Reggie Miller famously flashed the "choke" sign to Knicks fan Spike Lee. A native New Yorker, perhaps a very, very young Stephenson picked up this idea from Miller way back then. Of course, it's a lot easier to pull off a move like this when you're dropping 25 points in the fourth quarter like Reggie as opposed to being tethered to the bench like Lance.
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