Following the Game 4 loss to the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James took his seat at the postgame podium, as usual. What wasn't usual about the entire interview was his constant dodging of any question involving Lance Stephenson.
The evening's interview started off with a nod to Stephenson's defense on LeBron, although he didn't seem to want to give away too much credit.
He responded by complimenting Indiana's entire defensive game plan, rather than giving any kind of acknowledgement to Stephenson.
Reporters keep asking LeBron about Lance Stevenson and Bron keeps biting his tongue.— Rollin Herold (@BR_Rollin) May 29, 2013
The main focus of the postgame interview with LeBron was the night's referees, as James fouled out with just under a minute left in the game. It was just the second time in his career that LeBron fouled out in the playoffs, so it's not exactly a common occurrence.
On the final foul called against him, LeBron was setting a screen for Dwyane Wade, he seemed to flare his hip out just a bit and Stephenson tripped over him.
There's no way to call it a completely clean move by LeBron, but it isn't one that's normally called late in games, especially in the playoffs.
Reporters asked about the play and LeBron didn't hold much back. In fact, it was one of the few times that he referred to Stephenson by name throughout the entire interview.
LeBron: "D-Wade rejected the pick-and-roll and Lance,I believe, ran into me."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 29, 2013
LeBron James: "I didn't believe it was an offensive foul... I felt like I was stationary.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) May 29, 2013
LeBron James: "There were a couple of fouls that I didn't feel like were personal fouls on me, but that's how the game goes.''
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) May 29, 2013
Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida gives us LeBron's full thoughts on Stephenson's play Tuesday night.
Offensively he played extremely well. He attacked us. He played well. He played really well. But if you are sitting here talking about an individual one-on-one matchup between Lance Stephenson, I'm not going to harp on that.
LeBron was able to put up 24 points on the night, but his 8-of-18 shooting was hardly the impressive display that he put on in the first two games of the series (he did make four of his seven three-point attempts, however).
Perhaps the league MVP is still harboring a bit of resentment after the series last season between the two teams.
After LeBron missed two free throws in the third quarter of Game 3 (which the Pacers won), Stephenson made a now-infamous choking gesture at James, causing a firestorm of back-and-forth between the two.
Miami went on to win the next three games and take the series four games to two, but the seeds for a rivalry were sown.
Perhaps a bit of a grudge will continue to grow between the two of them, only now it will actually be meaningful with Stephenson actually playing this season.