“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.”
~ Lebron James the day after the Clevand Cavaliers were eliminated in the NBA playoffs by the Orlando Magic
It’s been a thrill to watch Lebron James do things on a basketball court that most of us couldn’t even in our dreams. The last second three-pointer he sunk in Game Three was the greatest play since since Michael Jordan knocked down the last shot in his last game in a Chicago Bulls uniform to win the NBA championship.
It’s too bad he ended his final game of the season looking like a sore loser.
James wears the same number as Jordan and that’s no accident. He craves both the championship rings of Jordan and his status as the world’s most successful athlete. Despite his Player of the Year status and carrying the Cavaliers to their best record ever, even King James can’t win playing 1-on-5 over a seven game series. He got little to no help from his teammates as they had no answer to awesome dominance of Dwight Howard doin’ work inside and the outside shooting of Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Courtney Lee.
We can’t put it all on him,” Cavs forward Joe Smith said. “He needs some help.”
Jerry West, a Hall of Famer, whose outline graces the NBA’s logo said James is the best player in the league, but without him the Cavaliers would probably be a lottery team. Looking at their roster it’s hard to argue with West.
Even a king needs a few knights. Lebron will have to hang the “Help Wanted” sign outside of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland if he ever hopes to hoist a championship trophy.
First thing King James might want to do is to learn a little bit about sportsmanship.
Lebron wanted it all this year. You could just see it in the way he would almost will his team to wins in Games #3 and 5. It wasn’t enough and from the way the Magic exposed the deficiencies of the Cavaliers, it probably wouldn’t have been any better going up against Kobe and the Lakers.
He walked off the floor in Orlando without offering any handshakes or congratulations to Howard and the Magic. James refused to speak to the media, dressing quickly and boarding the team bus. It was reminiscent of the same classless act Isiah Thomas pulled in 1991 when he led eight of his Detroit Pistons teammates off the court without congratulating Jordan’s Bulls that had just dethroned them.
The swagger of the Cavs developed during the regular season was long gone. In it’s place will come a long summer hoping they can sign James to a contract extension, but knowing he may not as he waits to see if General Manager Danny Ferry brings in some reinforcements via trade or free agency.
We can cut James some slack becaue after carrying 11 other guys for an average of 44 minutes during six grueling games against the Magic, he was probably tired and more than a little royally pissed off.
In college basketball when the game is over both teams line up and high-five each other. I don’t know if they are mandated to do so or the coaches think it’s just a good idea. Either way, it’s a nice way to demonstrate sportsmanship.
But Lebron walked straight out of high school into the pros. He bypassed the college game and started earning millions while most of his peers were eating out of the vending machine in the dorms. Along with dorm food he missed out on those little life lessons in losing gracefully.
Humility is not something Lebron has found often he’s had to swallow. Neither is failure, but after being swept out of the Finals by the ancient Spurs in 2007, he failed to even get there this year. So much for a 66-16 season and easy sweeps over the Pistons and Hawks. The Magic has enjoyed success over the Cavs beating them three out of four times during the season and exerting total domination during over the six-game series.
Lebron will get his championship eventually. Perhaps in a Cavaliers uniform and perhaps not. When the time does come that he is hoisting the Lawrence O’Brien trophy over his head, he will truly be the winner he says he already is. Maybe by then he will have learned how to accept his defeats a bit more gracefully.