I might be in the minority here, because this will be the second Anti-LeBron James article I have written to date. (The first was in jest.)
That being said, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt after the young and talented superstar made his way off the court the other night without congratulating the victorious Orlando Magic after game six of the Eastern conference finals the other night.
Maybe I see the world through a different set of glasses than some, King James included, so I decided to wait on his response to what was going to be a flurry of questions regarding his behavior the other night.
Let me start right now with a few quotes out of the mouth of The King himself.
"It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them," he said.
Really, LeBron? It is hard for you to congratulate somebody after they beat you? I didn’t realize you were the only one. I, as well as my fellow mortals tend to jump for joy and be absolutely giddy about the prospect of being defeated.
LeBron’s attempt to redefine his childish and immature behavior as a move that is made by a proud man is insulting to my intelligence.
What’s more is that at the tender age of 19 years old, LeBron said this, "Of course I'm a role model," James said. "Any pro athlete that plays basketball, plays any sport, is automatically a role model. I'm happy to be one, too."
Well, if that is the case then LeBron, the 24-year-old man, should’ve realized that those moments following game six were in fact a teachable moment.
I am glad that LeBron has figured out that kids look up to him. I am glad he takes that seriously.
Others will slough this off and remind us that Charles Barkley said that Athletes are not role models and feels it then absolves him of poor judgment and bad decisions.
That being said, LeBron James took on his role as a role model in the community, almost from day one.
So when he didn’t shake hands with the Orlando Magic at the end of his season, and instead chose to walk off the court I didn’t over-react to his behavior, even though I didn’t agree with it.
I waited like everyone else to hear LeBron’s explanation for what I initially thought was odd behavior considering what he has told us about how he wants to be remember at the end of what has started out as a very bright career.
Unfortunately in this case I think that LeBron has under-estimated one thing. How insulting it is to be talked down to.
LeBron completely missed the point of shaking the victors hand after the game. You do it to congratulate them on a job well done, you do it show that you’re a person of strong character that can hold his head up, even in defeat.
You do it because when you talk about leaving it all out on the court, it symbolizes that you have. From the opening tip or puck drop to the shaking hands. You did everything you could to win.
Nobody doubts that, but when you walk off the court without that finality, it stinks of resentment, it looks like you're saying, "that you feel you should’ve won." When clearly Orlando handled you over the 6 game series.
It makes you look like the type of entitled crybaby that I am sure LeBron doesn’t want to be catagorized as, especially if that some one stands up and says, yeah I want to be like LeBron.
It's says I don’t have to show respect for my opponent, I don’t have to give them their due. I tried really really hard, and this loss was because of me, not because of them.
This reeks of the selfishness that extends to every corner of society, the type of spoiled brat behavior that I would hope a role model wouldn’t promote.
Mere days after we saw someone do it wrong. We got to enjoy the startling and refreshing contrast that was Rafael Nadal do it right. He walked off the clay at the French Open for the first time in his life with the bitter taste of defeat in his mouth.
He looked every bit the competitor that LeBron James was. After four straight titles and 31 straight matches, where Nadal was beaten in only 7 sets, Nadal dropped three of four sets to the 23rd-ranked player in the world.
Robin Soderling, a 24 year old Swede, a player that he does not have a warm and fuzzy relationship with Nadal, became the first player to oust Nadal from red clay courts of Roland Garros.
Through all the hooting and hollering and emotional outburst, the first thing Nadal did was head to the net and congratulate his opponent.
Not because he is happy about the loss, but because it was the right thing to do. Then the four-time champion faced the media with equal parts frustration, humor and grace.
He held court on a Q&A period that no one expected. He did it because it was right. He did it because that’s the kind of example you should set.
Not only did LeBron James drop the ball so the speak for the first time in a series where he averaged 38 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds, but he then proceeded to return with a chance to speak to the media in a patronizing manner.
So after collecting himself and addressing the media in Independence, Ohio, King James offered this insightful quote.
"It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them," he said. "I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. That doesn't make sense to me.
"I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."
This statement reeks of immaturity and selfishness.
Let’s break it down: “It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them.” First things first. You didn’t just lose to them. You got beaten by a better team.
That series was 4 – 2, with Cleveland managing two wins at home, one of them on a miracle three-point bucket by James himself. Orlando was clearly the better team throughout this series.
Secondly, it’s not just hard for you, LeBron! It’s hard for anyone that has an ounce of competitiveness in their body.
That being said, because something is hard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Making the NBA isn’t easy, but LBJ put in the work.
When he arrived in Cleveland six years ago there were all kinds of holes in his game. It would’ve been easy to coast on the reputation he has built.
He didn’t go the easy way then, why take the easy way out now?
Part two: “I’m a winner.” Really? Kobe is a winner, Jordan is a winner, Magic, Bird, Shaq, winner, winner and winner. What on LeBron James' resume says, I’m a winner? LeBron is such a winner that he doesn’t have to follow the same rule of etiquette as others?
Then there is the qualifier, “It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. That doesn't make sense to me.”
Basically it is LeBron acknowledging that he made a mistake. He knows people see him as being a poor sport, and you know why, because he is. To try to justify his poor behavior he compares it to a fight.
That being said, in hockey they legitimately fight each other and they have determined it to be the greatest show of respect. As for the fight analogy, I see those guys shake hands all the time.
Baseball even took a cue a few years ago.
Finally – “I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand." Somewhere a long the line throughout his life, King James forgot there are other people out there.
Other people that play basketball, that play sport with passion, and have already shown that a grown up can handle both.
As I mentioned earlier you need to look no further than Rafael Nadal for an example of an intense competitor that no only gets it on the court…but off of it as well, time to put on your big boy pants and own it.