The Man Who Would Be King

June 1, 2009
“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to ‘em.  I’m a winner.  It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that.  If somebody beat you up, you’re not gon’ congratulate them on beatin’ you up.  That don’t make sense.  It don’t make sense to me.  I’m a competitor and that’s what I do.  It don’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”  The above quote was given by LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward and 2008-2009 NBA MVP.  His team lost game six of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic and with it the series, four games to two.  LeBron chose not to shake anyone’s hand after the game nor did he join the post-game press conference.  He spoke to the media the day after; showing himself to be a prima donna.  There were no teammates, no opponents, and no coaches.  He’s different from T.O.  LeBron’s disrespect for the game and the city of Cleveland is subtle.

T.O. will publicly call out teammates and post random thoughts on Twitter.  LeBron leaves the court as a so-called competitor and then gives an unchallenged reason why he can’t shake hands after a loss.  Let’s make something perfectly clear.  Sportsmanship is not about being a good loser.  It is about respecting your opponent for giving you his best.  Dwight Howard deserved for LeBron James to shake his hand, look him in the eye and say, “Good game.”  But LeBron proved himself unworthy of the moniker King James after this display.  He is a player with extraordinary skill and mediocre character.  LeBron could one day be king if he works on his humility as much as his jumper.  One last thing – LeBron says you don’t congratulate someone after beating you up.  That’s not true.  Boxers almost always hug after fights because their gloves prevent them from shaking hands.

Examples like this are why kids need real-life role models.  Any young person watching the Eastern Conference Finals should have had an adult in his or her ear telling them the right way to act.  Shaking hands should be practiced right along with the game plan.  Yes, there will be heartbreakers and buzzer-beaters.  Some calls will not go your way and some opponents will cheat.  However, the desire to win can never trump the desire to be respected.  Until next time…

Be a Good Sport!

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