Just a few months ago, Lance Stephenson was looking like basketball's feel-good comeback story. At one time, this former Coney Island high-school star was considered a serious disappointment — an explosive scorer with tremendous size from the guard position, he had a sub-par freshman year at Cincinnati and was plagued by off-the-court problems. He'd already been rung up on a sex-assault charge for groping a girl in high school, and NBA executives were a little freaked out by his attention-seeking behavior — he was involved with an obnoxious online reality show entitled Born Ready before he even reached college.
Stephenson plummeted in the draft, eventually going in the second round (40th overall) to the Indiana Pacers. But a breakout summer-league performance in Orlando led many to pronounce him this year's big steal.
Well, not so fast. Stephenson is now in serious trouble, thanks to allegations that he assaulted the mother of his child, Jasmine Williams, in Brooklyn. According to various accounts, Stephenson was upset with Williams because she wouldn't answer her phone; he went over to her place, allegedly threw her down a flight of stairs, and then hit her again as she lay at the foot of the stairs.
The court filing reads: "While [Williams] was laying at the bottom of said stairs the defendant picked up [Williams's] head and slammed [it] on the bottom step."
Eighty-six points for Stephenson, who was charged with felony assault, harassment, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon, the weapon being the step. For the Pacers, who spent much of the past few years carefully de-Trailblazering their roster after a horrific run of extra-bad acquisitions, the Stephenson situation has to suck particularly hard. Larry Bird so far has been pretty careful about his public statements, saying only that "we will deal appropriately with Lance."
Watch my smoke
Good news for everybody out there gearing up for a year of Miami Heat hate: Udonis Haslem, one of the new super-squad's two functioning big men, was arrested for weed possession and "illegal tint" (i.e., his car windows were too dark) after a routine traffic stop in Miami. Haslem got pulled over by the Florida Highway Patrol for driving 78 in a 60-mph zone; cops smelled marijuana in the car and performed no less than three searches, including one with drug dogs. After all this, cops found less than 20 grams worth of dope.
Haslem is loudly protesting his innocence and one has to wonder about this bust — three searches to find less than 20 grams of pot? That's really necessary? Let's give Udonis half a point, not for smoking weed, but for taking short money to play on a stacked team.
Meanwhile, on another, more deeply satisfying schadenfreude front, former Red Sox pitcher/ultimate-traitor-scumbag-Yankee Roger Clemens finally got the book thrown at him, not for his real crime — being an all-around self-obsessed ass — but for the lesser technical offense of lying to Congress about his steroid use.
There are so many delicious subplots here, not the least of which being the fact that one of the allegedly perjurious statements came when Rahjah tried to insist that only his wife, and not he himself, had tried human growth hormone.