Ahead in the Count

Jim Thompson: “LeBron James is Confused”

In Jim Thompson’s aptly titled post on his “Responsible Sport” blog today, he offered spot-on commentary on LeBron James’ behavior following the Cavs’ Game 6 season-ending loss on Saturday night.  It is worth a read.

For those of you who did not see what LeBron did, here’s a quick synopsis… As soon as Game 6 ended with Orlando having clinched the series, LeBron stormed off the court without offering any sort of acknowledgment to the Magic, a team that had earned every one of their four victories and the right to move on to the NBA Finals.  But LeBron wasn’t just frustrated and irrational in the moment.  Some minutes later, “King James” refused to address the media in the mandatory post-game press conference, and yesterday, when offered a chance to explain his behavior, LeBron brusquely addressed the issue, making no apologies.  In fact, he even explained it away by offering (not humorously) that he was a “winner” and a “competitor” and therefore did not see the value in congratulating his opponent following his team’s loss.

The good news is that the response to LeBron’s actions and words has been pretty much universally negative.  Even LeBron apologists, those who usually say he can do no wrong because of his other-worldly physical gifts, are questioning whether they can now root for him in the same way.

Personally, I don’t like watching LeBron play, and this is just icing on the cake.  Yes, he is no doubt a great athlete.  He distributes the ball and tries to involve his teammates in many facets of the game in a way that many superstars do not.  That is positive.  However, I believe strongly that these positives are negated (and then some) by his incessant whining to the officials – 82 games a year plus playoffs – and near absolute neglect of his opponents as worthy competitors.  I don’t like watching that kind of athlete, and I hope others will join me.

LeBron’s behavior shows an utter disrespect for the game and offers a challenge for any youth sports coach or parent who now has to explain why one of the best athletes in the world and perhaps one of the best basketball players of all time behaves in a way that is vastly different from what they expect of their own children.  How will they (we) respond to the first kid who refuses to shake hands with the opponents after a loss and then offers up, “if LeBron doesn’t do it, why do I have to?”  Good question, and the answer is that LeBron is still a young guy with a lot to learn.  Maybe he’ll eventually come to understand that he is not bigger than the game itself, at which point coaches and parents can point to him as not just a great athlete, but a great competitor.

Until he comes to this realization, however, I hope those who do Honor the Game will continue to offer LeBron more early exits from the playoffs and the opportunities to learn some much needed life lessons.

June 1, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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