SAN FRANCISCO – Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson had one concern when he recently made a video campaigning for his inclusion in this season's NBA All-Star Game.
"I was scared," Stephenson said, "about what Larry would say."
"Larry" is Larry Bird, Pacers president and Hall of Fame forward. Bird was a 12-time All-Star, and it's safe to say he didn't have to stump for votes for any of his selections.
Stephenson is enjoying a breakthrough season of sorts in his fourth year in the NBA, and felt his own All-Star candidacy could use a little bump. A week ago, he unveiled his alter ego "Sir Lance-A-Lot" in a humorous 62-second online clip that has him wearing a wig, high-water pants, suspenders and a bowtie.
The video has generated more than 320,000 views, including at least one from Bird, who didn't hesitate to give Stephenson his review.
"He said, 'Hey, you did a good job. You should try being in a movie one day,' " Stephenson said. "He sent me a text and I was [relieved]."
The filming of the 62-second video took about 30 minutes and was directed by an Indianapolis music video producer. Indiana coach Frank Vogel even snuck in a clip of it while showing the team scouting video in preparation for a recent game against the New York Knicks. The All-Star Game is in New Orleans, so Stephenson got tips from teammate Danny Granger, a Big Easy native, on how to say "Nawlins" with a Creole twang.
Prior to the video release, Stephenson was a distant eighth in fan voting among Eastern Conference guards for the two starting All-Star guard spots. The latest All-Star ballot results aren't out yet after the voting ended Monday, but Stephenson said he has picked up about 50,000 Twitter followers over the past week.
"I decided to help myself out with the voting," Stephenson said. "I wanted to show a different side to my fans. I came up with everything. I was watching old Grandmamma (former Charlotte Hornet Larry Johnson's shoe commercials) and Madea (Tyler Perry's character) and I just came up with that."
The Pacers have the NBA's top record at 33-7 after beating the Golden State Warriors. Forward Paul George and center Roy Hibbert are expected to be East All-Stars. The Pacers are hoping for a third representative in New Orleans in either forward David West or Stephenson.
Stephenson has an NBA-high three triple-doubles this season and is averaging 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists entering. He's also shooting 49.5 percent, ranking among the top guards in that category.
"I always thought I'd be good in this league, but I never thought I'd be to where I am right now," Stephenson said. "I worked so hard with dedication. My teammates and coaches pushed me every day, helped me learn the game and made it easier for me. I can get better."
Stephenson isn't expected to garner the large amount of votes needed to pass Miami's Dwyane Wade and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving to start for the East. That means Stephenson will have to rely on East coaches to vote him in as a reserve.
All-Star starters will be announced on Thursday. The reserves will be named Jan. 30.
"He's one the major reasons why we are atop the East," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Stephenson.
The lone knock on Stephenson has been his occasional showboating. He admitted he was "probably overdoing it" when he danced after making a jump shot after crossing over Courtney Lee during a 106-79 blowout victory over the Boston Celtics on Dec. 22. He doesn't believe East coaches will hold his celebrations against him.
"That's the New York swag in me," Stephenson said. "… I like to bring excitement to the game and to get the fans involved."