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LeBron James Facing Scrutiny For Lack of Sportsmanship

The media has been stirring for the last few days after the NBA’s top seed in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, fell to the Orlando Magic in game six of the Eastern Conference finals. Orlando quietly played very well against the Cavaliers this season, and likely surprised many people with their victory, LeBron James included.

The league MVP this season and leader of a 66-win team, James obviously had high expectations placed on him, mostly by himself. So it’s no shock that he was overcome with disappointment at the end of game six, which the Cavaliers lost 103-90.

What the series was supposed to show in the end was that James’ supporting cast in Cleveland really isn’t good enough to win an NBA championship, and looked better as a result of the MVP’s superlative play. What it ultimately showed, though, was that the 24-year-old James, the league’s biggest star and most recognizable face has a thing or two to learn about sportsmanship.

After quickly disappearing into the Cleveland locker room and not saying a word to the media or anyone, LeBron broke his silence that, while less than 24 hours, felt like an eternity.

Jalen Rose’s commentary at the end says it all. In the spirit of competition, there is still a level of respect for one’s peers whether or not they like each other. Ali and Frazier still tapped the gloves even though they likely hated each other in real life. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin share an intense budding rivalry in the NHL, but they still embraced after their series showdown was over.

What LeBron did after game six was unacceptable. The problem wasn’t even that he didn’t give the media the juicy nut-graph quotes they were looking for. It was that he didn’t show his opponents the proper respect.

He went further by commenting that he can’t shake anyone’s hands just after they beat him up. What he doesn’t seem to realize is the amount of disrespect he’s showing toward Dwight Howard and the Magic by doing that. In time, he will learn that although he may not want to even look at Howard, let alone shake his hand, he still needs to do it. For the sake of the sport.

I’m not a LeBron James hater by any means. I don’t jump on the kid for any little transgression he might have. But this really bothered me. I always see James as mature beyond his years, a consummate professional who’s always willing to give props to the ones who humble him. He did it to the Celtics last season, so I expected more of the same this time around.

He eventually gave the Magic the credit they deserved, but he had already done the damage to his credibility, however small it may be in the big picture. He said he e-mailed Howard after the game to congratulate him, which is fine & dandy. But Howard had to have at least been thinking “Gee, why couldn’t he say this to me on the court?”

The scrutiny that’s coming over James might make him realize what he did was a lapse in judgment that came in the spirit of competition. There’s nothing wrong with having an intense desire to win; James wouldn’t have a chance at an NBA title without it. But when he does not reach the goal he sets out to attain, he needs to recognize the ones that stopped him. For that one night after his season ended, he failed to do so.


June 1, 2009 - Posted by | basketball, hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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