LeBron James surprisingly encouraged the Lakers to sign Stephenson.

LeBron James says he's happy to have Lance Stephenson as a teammate

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After capturing LeBron James in free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers shocked many people by signing his longtime rival Lance Stephenson soon after. 

The pair have had numerous battles on the court over the years as Stephenson always looked to antagonise and get under the superstar's skin during their encounters. 

This took place as recently as May as the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. 

Things got physical and chippy as LeBron was issued with a rare technical for shoving his counterpart in one of his defeats in Indianapolis during the seven-game series. 

It always seemed like there was no love lost between the two but James was apparently keen to team up with Stephenson and was consulted by Magic Johnson before the Lakers signed him. 

That took many people by surprise and there were immediate questions about how they'd get along. 

Stephenson made a name for himself by getting under LeBron's skin

But speaking after practice on Thursday, James said he's happy to have him as a teammate. 

“I love Lance,” James said, via ClutchPoints. “Like I said, he’ll run through a wall for any one of his teammates.

“Lance makes mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s for the winning of the team. He’s never doing anything to try to alienate himself away from the team.

"He plays hard. Extremely hard. Guy makes mistakes, but they giving all they got 110%, you can ride with that, so I’m happy to have him.”

The elephant in the room

The former Pacers shooting guard signed a one-year deal in L.A. so he may only be playing with LBJ for a single season. 

However, even he admits that it was a surprise that the four-time MVP wanted to play with him considering their history. 

“It was definitely surprising [that LeBron James] wanted me to play with him,” he told Justin Tinsley of The Undefeated.

The most famous incident between the pair was definitely when Stephenson blew into LeBron's ear during a heated playoff series between the Pacers and Miami Heat. 

The 28-year-old has revealed that they still haven't talked about the elephant in the room. 

“We ain’t talk about [the ear incident] though. I’m waiting for him to say something about it.”

But the King is a consummate professional and will probably never bring it up as he's moved on from it. 

It's still strange to consider them as teammates after everything that's happened but it probably won't sink in until they step out onto the court together wearing that purple and gold uniform.

Lance Stephenson
L.A. Lakers
LeBron James

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