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Lance Stephenson hopes to be the final piece in the Charlotte Hornetsâ€™ quest for an NBA championship.
The 6-foot-5 guard was introduced as the newest member of the team during a press conference Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
â€śI just want to thank the Hornets for picking me up. Iâ€™m very excited,â€ť Stephenson said. â€śItâ€™s like a new beginning for me just meeting new teammates. Iâ€™m familiar with Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist. I think Iâ€™ll definitely fit in. Iâ€™m excited. I canâ€™t wait.â€ť
The Hornetsâ€™ roster wasnâ€™t the only selling point for Stephenson, who also admires head coach Steve Clifford.
â€ś(Clifford) is definitely a defensive coach,â€ť Stephenson said. â€śHe has a lot of experience. He definitely pushes his players. I need that from my coach. I know he loves to win. Everybody loves to win. I definitely love to win. Weâ€™ve got a group of guys that love to win.â€ť
Hornets General Manager Rich Cho believes Stephenson is â€śone of the best young players in the league.â€ť
â€śThere were a number of reasons why we wanted to bring Lance into the fold,â€ť Cho said. â€śWe canâ€™t be more thrilled to have him here.â€ť
Stephenson joins point guard Walker â€” both former prep standouts and rivals in New York â€” to solidify a formidable force in the Hornetsâ€™ backcourt.
â€śMe and Kemba grew up playing against each other,â€ť Stephenson said. â€śIâ€™ve had the chance to play with him before. Heâ€™s very competitive. I know me and him in the backcourt is going to be great for the team. Itâ€™s going to bring a lot of excitement and bring a lot of wins to the team.â€ť
Stephenson turned down a five-year deal from the Indiana Pacers worth approximately $44 million to join Charlotte.
â€śIt was definitely a tough decision,â€ť Stephenson said of his free agency. â€śI definitely grew up there and learned a lot from Larry (Bird) and my teammates that were in front of me. It was a great experience. I feel like I could bring a winning experience and that defensive edge to the Hornets.â€ť
Stephenson led the NBA with five triple-doubles last season and has career averages of 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
Cho believes Stephensonâ€™s signing opens the doors for the future of the Charlotte franchise.
â€śI think itâ€™s a really positive sign for the Hornets that last year we got Al Jefferson to come here as a free agent,â€ť Cho said. â€śWeâ€™re thrilled to have Lance come here as a free agent. I think it shows that Charlotte and the Charlotte Hornets organization is a free agent destination.â€ť
NBA fans might remember Stephenson from his infamous incident this past postseason with former NBA MVP Lebron James.
Stephenson hopes fans wonâ€™t define him by that act.
â€śI feel like that overshadowed my play on the court,â€ť Stephenson said. â€śI feel like I bring more to the table than blowing in someoneâ€™s ear. Iâ€™m definitely a great player, and I bring a lot to the table.â€ť
Cho believes Stephenson is the perfect fit for the Hornets franchise.
â€śWe had a number goals (this offseason), but one of the primary goals was to improve our scoring and our defense and our play-making ability,â€ť Cho said. â€śWe really feel like Lance fills all of those.â€ťView more articles in: