It is easy to bash Lebron after his graceless exit following his team’s loss to Orlando over the weekend. A player who has coveted and basked in the media’s spotlight for years suddenly did not want to deal with the harsh light of reality when the biggest question he might be asked would be “Why did your team lose?”
Spare me the he is young excuse. Lebron is 24 and has been in the league for 6 years, he is so mature that most people in their 40s could look to him for guidance. Yes he had to grow up fast but when you have the publicity/support/monetary machine that surrounds
Lebron, you grow up fast.
The fact that the league has not (yet) fined him for skipping out on the post game press conference is farcical and proves the conspiracy wonks right…the league favors its stars.
Many Lebron backers are saying he left without doing the obligatory post game press conference because he did not want to bash his team mates – and that is a defense? I am supposed to believe that Lebron was merely following the principle of “if you cannot say something nice don’t say anything at all”. Well that is (in old sportswriter terminology) HOGWASH. There were plenty of nice things he could have said: “We lost to a better team”, “We got our butts Kicked”, “We were out hustled, out-maneuvered”, “The Magic are a great team”, “Dwight Howard is superman and he owns my team” ok he would probably never say the last one, but it is true.
But if he really wanted to be the ‘King James’ that many expect him to be, he could have come out and said something that I would have really admired, allow me for a moment to be Lebron answering an imaginary question:
Reporter from Cleveland: “Lebron what are your thoughts on this your second straight exit just before the NBA finals”
Lebron: “What can I say? We were out coached so badly that it makes it even funnier that Mike Brown won coach of the year when anyone who follows basketball knows that we won 60 plus games because I play on this team, we caught fire at home, we have great fans, caught many a team flat, played with intensity because for most of our players the greatest thing we can aspire to is a great record not a title. Our coach won coach of the year because writers are often too lazy to look at actual circumstances and would rather just look at plain numbers; “Team X has more wins so they must have the best”. Because it would be too hard to swallow that the coach of Oklahoma has less talent and tougher circumstances and did a much better job even if his team had less wins, or that Greg Popovich had to deal with injuries all year but still got his team a great record. Or how about George Karl and his bunch of knuckleheads, his team was practically transformed in the middle of the season and still he was a force in the West, and this is before we get to the coach of the team that beat us!
“But what are my thoughts? Did you see my team out there? I have a guy making predictions that we are the better team, the best team in the NBA and then he cannot hit a jump shot if you widened the rim to 5 feet and lowered it 3 feet. I have power forwards who could not make my high school team. We could not stop anyone and this team won 2 games ONLY because of me, not partly because of me…ONLY. That 3 pointer I hit in game 3 was ridiculous; did you see how I celebrated after that? And of course no ref dared T me up like they did D ho ’cause I am LBJ, I am that good.
MY TEAM SUCKS, no really put that in the paper, WE SUCK, everyone automatically assumed I would make the finals, and I stared to believe it. I have more commercials out right now than games played in the Conference finals. I might as well go help Kobe look for his “3 championship rings” because that is the closest I am getting to a ring this year. I put up 38/8/8 and still could not even make a game 7 much less the finals. If you think I am going to sign that extension you are crazy or you have some last second ransom you are going to spring on me to force me to stay, because as soon as I can get out of here I am going.”
Cavaliers’ management scrambling to podium: “PRESS CONFERENCE OVER!”
Or of course he could have just said “Both teams played hard” (Shout out to Rasheed Wallace)
But to just put your headphones on and walk out to the bus, that was bush league. To not even shake the hand of your Olympic team-mate, that was tasteless. But, wait, you have been given a chance to redeem yourself, you can hold a press conference after you have had a chance to cool off, surely now you will say something contrite and explain away the childish behavior.
In his press conference a day after the game, LBJ did not apologize for his actions instead he offered up excuses: He told us that he emailed Dwight Howard…look I have enemies I respect enough to actually call if I have to congratulate them, much less a team-mate that I won a gold medal with. He then told the world that he walked off because he is a winner and that winners do not like to lose (ignore the oxymoron for a second) and that no one congratulates the person that kicks their ass.
So what I take from this is that Lebron has never watched a single Boxing match, MMA fight, Karate Tournament, any version of Rocky, a hockey game, a little league match, Tennis (especially Serena vs. anyone from France), old highlights of Jordan (he wears 23 too) vs. the Lakers/Pistons/Celtics. Hell apparently he never played a friendly pickup game, or flag football or just a game of cards apparently Lebron has only ever watched Lebron. It is a time honored part of sports to congratulate your opponent win or lose. It is not humiliating it is respect. It is not humbling yourself; it is acknowledgment of the nature of the shared activity.
Look even Mike Tyson at the end of a fight with Lennox Lewis where he previously threatened to eat Lennox’s children (HIS CHILDREN!) congratulated Lennox on beating him into submission. If Tyson, one of the craziest and most dangerous men ever to engage in an athletic endeavor can have the grace to shake his opponents hand, your not doing it, diminishes you.
But really Lebron – you are a winner so you did not shake your opponents hands? Uhmm, if you are such a winner why is your team now “Gone Fishing” while the Magic play this Thursday? Can you really call yourself a winner when your team just got soundly beaten and LOST? You lost the game and then you lost respect by your actions…man up!
There is currently a very popular phrase in the vernacular of the streets…Bitch Made; Lebron, I never thought I could apply that to you, but those actions this weekend were Bitch Made. This is the first time that I have seen that you lacked that positive male influence in shaping your youth that would have told you…“that is not cool you never walk off like that.”
Some are now saying this has done irreparable harm to your image, I even heard a sports talk host here in LA claim that you would lose endorsements because of it. That is just reactionary talk, you will overcome this, mainly because your marketing machine is so good that they will immediately impress upon you that this can never happen again. But, I hope you will overcome this because of the strength of character that I think I see in you.
You came into the league with incredible pressure on you, and for the most part have handled it better than anyone could have expected, learn from this and come out better than ever.
p.s. I really wish someone when you were 13 had told you, do NOT wear number 23!
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- Cali J
- Cali-J ueber alles in der Welt. Some think that I am mean; (I call them friends), in fact I am not that mean. What I am is sarcastic and dry to the sandpaper level. I have friends that I have never said a kind word to their face, but I praise to the ends of the earth to anyone I know and will defend them to the end. That’s just how I roll! My boys know that I am down for them, my girls know that no matter what I will keep them safe (and occasionally flirt with them [If you are a female friend of mine and think I haven’t flirted with you it just means you didn’t notice, it was extremely subtle or…not yet ]). No one is safe from my sarcasm even my own parents; hence of course as a kid I spent a significant amount of time in punishment. I treat people with respect if I think they deserve it – everyone starts off with the same amount of respect from me (a lot). You don’t need to earn my respect; you have to keep my respect.