Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Ever since I was a kid, it was always customary after playing a game or sport, to shake the hands of the other team. It was a sign of respect, not only for one's opponents, but for the spirit of the game itself. Even when our team was thoroughly whipped, we always sucked up our pride, and shook hands with the other team. It was just what we did, and what we still do, playing as adults.

LeBron James didn't see fit to offer the same respect to the team who unseated his team to advance to the NBA Finals. And to that, I say, LeBron has lowered himself to the level of a spoiled rotten child who cannot handle the disappointment of defeat.

I'm sure he is used to winning. Drafted directly from high school, he was a prodigy in his own right; a ridiculously-talented player who made even seasoned professionals stand and stare in awe. He was being compared to Michael Jordan before he was legally allowed to drink alcohol. He is accustomed to winning, accustomed to being the best, accustomed to getting whatever he wants all the time.

Yet, when the Orlando Magic decisively beat his Cleveland Cavaliers to advance to the finals yesterday, he stormed off in a huff, refusing to shake hands, and refusing to talk to the media. Just up and left, while his teammates showed respect for the other team, and shared their thoughts with the journalists.


In fact, I'd go so far as to say that his display of outright contempt is an embarrassment to the NBA, and a disgrace to the Cavaliers.

The thousands of children who look up to LeBron deserve a model of sportsmanship, respect and fair play, win or lose. These are the values that all children are taught, from a very young age, in Little League, schools, and sports leagues everywhere. His refusal to show respect to the team who beat him sets a terrible example for his young fans, and casts a dark shadow on the game itself.

Being a good athlete alone does not make one a good person. And it does not make one worthy or deserving of the admiration and the devout following of America's children.

He needs to grow the hell up, and realize that he's not going to win every game, every season, every championship. And when he gets beat, he needs to suck up his pride, and show respect to the team who beat him. That's what a true sportsman does. That's what a true hero does.

LeBron has a long way to go to become that.


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