NHL: Why It's Better off Without a LeBron James-Sized Ego

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIJuly 8, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts in front of Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I'm going to go on the record here and say that I am not a basketball fan. I don't care about the NBA.

The reasons for that are simple ones, and I am reminded of them every time I accidentally catch some pro basketball playoff game on television at a sports bar.

This is what I saw the last time I watched a game, and that was enough basketball for me.

But the recent—excuse me, most recent—Dunkgate, featuring LeBron James hammering into a kid during a game of knockout at his youth training camp just brings one thought to the forefront of my mind.

I'm so glad the NHL doesn't have a face that is actually a heel. Read: I am so glad that pro-hockey doesn't have a star player like LeBron James. Because every time I see crap like this I am thankful to have Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and even Alexander Ovechkin leading the charge for the NHL.

Crosby used to have the reputation for being a diver. I realize that, but it's actually a perfect example of the differences between the NBA and the NHL. There is no quicker way to end up on the media's bad side than to dive, or to embellish or fake injuries.

Don Cherry, love him or hate him, is one of the best at holding players accountable for their actions on the ice. Hockey play-by-play guys and analysts don't giggle and call it gamesmanship. Mostly because they understand that this isn't the WWE. They understand that this kind of thing makes the game, players and referees look silly.

But I digress.

I appreciate the class that mostly all NHL superstars carry themselves with. You don't see Pavel Datsyuk dancing around a 12-year-old at training camp, and you don't see Marty St. Louis challenging a 16-year-old to a race.

This latest LeBron thing was an accident, sure. I get that. But he doesn't need to go up for that dunk in the first place. The kid is standing right there, and who is he trying to impress? If that's putting on a good show, then count me out.

All NBA players aren't like that. James seems to be the exception, and this isn't a pot shot at all pro ballplayers. I know those guys go out to hospitals and such just as often as pro hockey guys do.

But at the top of the tops, it seems to be that there is a lot more ego in the NBA.

Which is my point. 

I'm stoked that we have classy fellas leading the NHL off the ice instead of guys who can't appear to be anything besides self-obsessed. Some people think that hockey players are boring because of this, but I couldn't disagree more.

When I open an NHL news site, it generally isn't littered with dumb things that players have posted on Twitter, or a Youtube video of them making an ass out of themselves.

I'm glad that the goons in hockey are the guys getting noticed for doing goon things like diving or making a sloppy seconds comment. These aren't the All-Stars. Sean Avery and Matt Cooke do this kind of thing to make a living, but they aren't in the upper echelon of players in the League.

So the next time you are dishing dirt on Crosby, AO, or whoever, take a step back and at least be thankful for one thing. At least they aren't LeBron James.