Monday, June 1, 2009

The NBA: Where Sportsmanship Doesn't Happen

AP Photo/ Chris O'Meara



It’s something every athlete learns at an early age. Every competitor is told to be gracious in victory or defeat.

Sure it isn’t a perfect world, and sometimes you don’t display as much sportsmanship as you should. As a college lacrosse player, I understand the frustrations of losing and how things can get in the heat of the battle. It’s still important, though, when the final whistle blows, to be a class act.

LeBron James must have missed those lessons.

James told reporters, "It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them."

"I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. That doesn't make sense to me. I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."

Sorry. I don’t think it’s a good excuse.

Our last lacrosse game we lost in the first round of the conference playoffs. The opposing crowd was singing Steam’s “Goodbye”. I was looking at a 5 hour bus ride from the game in Vermont back to my school in Boston. I was upset we lost, and I was exhausted because I left it all on the field. But all that aside, I sucked it up and shook hands with the other team.

I hate losing as much as the next guy. It’s not fun. Yet it’s not an excuse for displaying poor sportsmanship.

It definitely isn’t an excuse when it’s the second time you’ve done it.

Last year, after the Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, James also walked off the court without a single handshake or word with his opponents.

As humans we are supposed to learn from our mistakes. In school, we go to history class so we can learn what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. LeBron James should have learned from last year that you should respect your opponents and respect the game by offering congratulations on a hard-fought battle.

As the face of the NBA he is a role model to a large number of kids, like it or not. They look up to him. By storming off the court he showed that it’s OK to be a poor sport.

Also, it isn’t like Cleveland lost the series or the game because of poor officiating. The Cavaliers lost because the Magic played better team basketball.

Although the series was physical, there were no brawls that would’ve had either team seething at each other, causing such dislike where no one could meet at half-court after the game and acknowledge good competition.

No, LeBron was just upset and pouted.

How would he feel if, say, he had won but Dwight Howard neglected to give him his due props?

Some people say that a real man can admit defeat. It is what separates men from boys.

James will certainly be in the Eastern Finals again sometime in his career. And he may lose. Hopefully, by then, he will be mature enough to be gracious in defeat.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that he should have shook their hands....but (of course im going to defend makes for good arguments) lets say you just averaged a 43-9-8...averaged 45 minutes played...and had to stick rashard lewis or hedo (who both have fresh legs mind you) in evry 4th was a combination of exhaustion and frustration...more than frustration...and if this is the worst thing we have to worry about lebron about (hasnt done anything negative ever, nothings been reported in the media) than i think we'll be alright...he and dwight are great friends, im sure lebron congratulated him...we still forget these stars are 25 and under