Hey, we all know the NBA is a league run by superstars.
Michael Jordan got all the calls. Almost any other player would have been whistled for a push-off against Bryon Russell during the climatic moment of the 1998 NBA Finals.
Dwyane Wade was the star of the 2006 Finals; that was demonstrated by the ridiculous amount of calls he got in his favor. Every time he drove to the basket, he was rewarded with a trip to the free-throw line.
We know how the league operates. If a player gets his way most of the time, he'll come to expect such things. It's only human nature.
But once the game is over, all players—regardless of their salaries and endorsements—should be expected to act in a professional manner. Especially the stars, who have images to groom and then uphold.
During the past six weeks, LeBron James hasn't done that. At all.
I've always liked James, both as a player and a person. Despite being ludicrously wealthy and famous at such a young age—and having never spent a year on a college campus—he's mature beyond his years.
He has stayed out of trouble, taken care of his kids, and has shown to be quite the entertainer.
But recently, James has come off as a diva.
First, he rushed off the court following Cleveland's Game Six loss to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals. He failed shake the hand of a single Magic player before leaving the arena without talking to any media members. A day later, he said his competitiveness kept him from doing such things.
Oh, and other players enjoy losing, LeBron?
This was an extremely weak act on James' part. Because of James' previous crystal-clear record when it came to such matters, the act was shrugged off by most people.
The media should have been more critical of James' disappearing act. Hell, if I was covering that series, I would have been enraged to have to rely on interviews from other Cavaliers after their final game of the season.
But whatever. Life went on.
Then came the alleged incident earlier this week at James' Skills Academy. James was playing a pickup game with NBA and college players when Jordan Crawford, a 6-foot-4 guard from Xavier, posterized him.
Yep, the Atlantic-10 player dunked on LeBron.
Apparently, the gym went nuts. Well, at least the high school kids in attendance let loose. Videographers who were taping games all day got the dunk on video.
But not for long.
According to Ryan Miller, one of the videographers, James went over to Nike's Lynn Merritt and told him something. A minute later, Merritt confiscated the tape from Miller.
Since the pickup game Monday, there has been all kinds of talk about what happened, but James and his representatives have kept quiet. All Nike has said is that there's a policy against taping after-hours games.
But, again, Miller and others had been taping for a while before the dunk and hadn't been bothered.
What happened in Akron, Ohio, is pretty obvious. And, really, it's silly this is even garnering so much attention.
Thank James for that.
For the past six years, I've considered James an incredibly precocious talent who was very secure in his broad-shouldered body.
Now, all of a sudden, he can't stand the thought of people seeing him get dunked on by a college kid?
If Miller and others weren't accosted by the Nike people and posted the video on YouTube, it would have been a huge hit. Millions of people would have watched it.
But why? Because James is such an amazing and incredible talent. Because, simple put, he doesn't get dunked on.
The video would have said the following message; James is human after all. Life would have moved on. James would continue to dominant the league.
By having Nike swipe the footage, though, James acted insecure.
He acted as if one tiny sign of weakness on the basketball court during a summer scrimmage would damage his reputation.
It's mind-boggling to me. I don't understand it.
From watching James on and off the court, I always thought he would be the type who could act classy after a loss, put it in perspective, and laugh after such an unimportant happening. I thought he would even throw a compliment the kid's way.
Maybe we common folk don't know James like we thought. In the aftermath of Steve McNair's tragic death, it is fair to assume that we don't know the half of what there is to know about the pro athletes we watch in sports venues and on TVs around the country.
Still, I thought James was better than this. We all know he has to have an enormous ego to be as good as he is, but I believed he could hold it in check when it wasn't his day.
Hopefully, for the fans' sake, James won't have any larger blemishes on his record when we view his career after its conclusion.
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