Indiana Pacers Should Cut Ties With Lance Stephenson

Tom SmithCorrespondent IAugust 16, 2010

NEW YORK - MARCH 11: Lance Stephenson #33 of the Cincinnati Bearcats lays on the court after a play late in the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the quarterfinal of the 2010 NCAA Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Indiana Pacers rookie guard Lance Stephenson, a.k.a. "Born Ready," is a very raw but very talented basketball player.

He could also be more trouble than he's worth.

The 6'5" shooting guard led Coney Island's Lincoln High School to four consecutive city basketball championships, and is the all-time leading scorer for high school basketball in New York state.

Despite such gaudy accomplishments, Stephenson had considerable difficulty obtaining a college scholarship for the one year wait before he would become eligible for the NBA draft.

Some schools had questions about his eligibility given his involvement in an online reality show titled "Born Ready" that aired while he was still in high school. More questions arose after he toured the Under Armour headquarters while on a recruiting visit to Maryland.

Other schools had more serious concerns about his character.

In January 2008, Stephenson was suspended from school for fighting with a teammate. In October of the same year, he was arrested for the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl in the high school gym.

Either way, all the high profile schools on Stephenson's list came and went.

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His original list of finalists came down to Kansas, St. John's and Maryland. Then his "new final" list was Maryland and Arizona.

As it turned out, Stephenson never did sign a letter of intent before the NCAA deadline to do so.

Stephenson ended up at the University of Cincinnati, apparently the highest-profile school willing to gamble that he would be ruled eligible to play.

Stephenson played well in his freshman year, but certainly not like a player who should be thinking "one and done."

Averaging 12 points and five rebounds is a good start to a college career, but Team Stephenson decided that was good enough to make a run at the pros.

It's a shame, really, as reports came out of UC that Lance was working hard to be a good student and good teammate. There was even speculation that he would be returning for at least one more year of school before jumping to the NBA.

Alas, it was not to be.

Stephenson entered the 2010 NBA Draft and was selected in the second round by the Pacers. Not very lofty for someone with "Born Ready" inked on their arm.

After performing well for the Pacers in the Orlando Summer League, Stephenson signed a three-year deal with the team that will pay him $700,000 in his first year.

Team president Larry Bird said he was surprised that such a talent was still available for selection with the 40th pick. I think Stephenson just showed him why that was.

Lance Stephenson was arrested in Brooklyn on Saturday night for allegedly throwing his girlfriend (and the mother of his child) down a flight of stairs in her apartment building.

The alleged cowardly piece of crap was charged with second-degree assault (a felony) as well as third-degree assault, menacing, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon.

Playing in the NBA is not a right. The league is a proper business, complete with paying customers who, while entertained by high-flying feats of athleticism, might not appreciate women-beating punks on their team.

It is much easier to root for good people than it is to cheer for garbage.

Arrests for pot (Udonis Haslem—step on down!) are one thing. I'm not speaking personally, but it's pretty easy to look the other way for a little reefer. Violence against women is quite another. It should not, and cannot be tolerated in our society.

For a team that still needs to pay more attention to the image cast by its players than most—cue the "Malice in the Palace" footage—the Pacers need to tread cautiously here.

Due process is a wonderful and necessary thing, but if Lance Stephenson is found guilty of this heinous assault, the Pacers should void his contract as quickly as they can.

I do not propose that Stephenson be banned from the NBA—though a lengthy suspension would be nice—but he absolutely should not have a three-year guaranteed contract with the Pacers.

If some other team wants to gamble on him, that's their problem.


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