Asked via text message if he was bothered by Stephenson blowing in James' ear, Pacers president Larry Bird replied, "Yes I am."
James didn't exactly appear upset by it at the time, but it was a topic in both the Heat and Pacers locker rooms and at the interview podium. The reactions varied, via the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer:
"Buffoonery," Heat guard Ray Allen called it after the game.
"It's Lance being Lance," Paul George said. "I hope his breath wasn't too bad for LeBron."
"We put ourselves in a position to win tonight, and as competitors, as professionals, that's what we are," James said. "We need one more game to get to the Finals. All the extra, whatever Lance wants to deal with, I don't really care about that."
Asked if he's ever attempted a similar tactic, James laughed. Maybe to his wife, he joked.
Stephenson himself didn't comment on it, and after all the talking that he's done in this series, that was probably a wise move. He might not have changed his on-court antics -- he also joined a Miami huddle and earned a flopping fine in Game 5 -- but his team definitely delivered a message about his public remarks. Bird would approve of that, at least.