King James: If Being Competitive Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right.
The King has spoken.
There is no question that LeBron James displayed poor sportsmanship when he chose to walk off the court after Cleveland's Game Six collapse against the Orlando Magic. He chose not to shake anyone's hand and he ducked the press.
And you know what? I dig it.
There was a time before guys shared the same agent, repped the same gear, and went to the same social mixers. There was a time when guys didn't pound knuckles and bear hug one another just before tip-off.
If you don't believe me, check out this video of Robert Parish assaulting Bill Laimbeer like he just stole his last bag of weed. Nobody touches the Chief's green.
Parish was fined $7,500 and received a one-game suspension. One game! The intensity and anger that fueled the NBA in the 80s and 90s provided viewers with the drama that they craved.
Had that happened today, ESPN would have literally exploded. The entire campus in Bristol would have spontaneously combusted. Only those who made it to their highest horse would have been saved. Stuart Scott would have boo-ya'd his head right off his shoulders.
For the first time that I can remember, somebody other than Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett actually showed they truly want to win. The media seems to believe that their canned quotes and partial access matters to real fans, when all we really want is the truth.
And LeBron spoke the truth, whether his corporate sponsors wanted him to or not.
As consumers, people are far more advanced than they have ever been. We easily detect falsehoods and insincerity. With the advent of reality television, YouTube, and the blogosphere, people seem to crave a real connection to who and what they are watching.
Being force fed generic NBA propaganda just won't cut it. LeBron gave us a glimpse into who he is, and the NBA is better for it.
Quick; name the funniest moment of the playoffs? Answer; Raefer Alston slapping Eddie House. The slow motion replay of Eddie's headband jiggling around still cracks me up.
It was absolutely, 100 percent the wrong thing to do. Yet, it added drama and showed us he really cared. It was immature and awesome all at the same time.
It gives me hope. It makes me believe that the NBA can overcome David Stern's attempt at creating a league where players are forced to skip when introduced and play with a smile permanently etched on their faces.
I don't necessarily want to see someone get face-jacked like Laimbeer, but I do want bad blood. Michael Jordan was made of Teflon and was viewed poetically by millions of admirers. To teammates, he was a terror, breaking down anyone not tough enough to endure his razor-sharp wit and crazed competitiveness.
His destruction of teammates was legendary. Maybe it wasn't the correct thing to do, but it made him fascinating, it made him a winner, and it helped set the stage for the Pistons to get swept out of the Playoffs in 1991 and refuse to shake Jordan's hand.
Other than Jeff Van Gundy clutching Alonzo Mourning's leg like someone tied to a power pole during a hurricane, I have a hard time remembering a lot of great, overly competitive playoff moments in the last decade.
LeBron James just killed himself for six games. He put up numbers that are tough to match on NBA 2K9. His team killed him. If he wasn't upset, I would be worried.
Of course, Team Stern will do everything in its power to deter James from ever doing anything like this again, but if LeBron is the savior the NBA proclaims him to be, then this story is just beginning and the King is about to hold court.
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