The Plain-Dealer’s Bud Shaw quotes LeBron James as saying “”That’s not being a poor sport,” in defense of his after Cleveland’s elimination in Game 6 Saturday night. “If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them for beating you up.” Actually, that’s exactly what the Fanhouse’s Jay Mariotti would have James do, calling the post-game handshake, “one of the last practices of good sportsmanship we have left in the athletic arena, a ritual that should be preserved.”
LeBron James, arguably the best team-sports athlete in the world these days, dumped all over that playoff tradition Saturday night. The least he can do, while thrusting his commercial ambitions in America’s face every other TV timeout, is be a man and congratulate Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic instead of blowing out of Amway Arena without even a nod to the Eastern Conference champions. Yes, I understand James is 24, feeling the weight of his eventual place in history and surely wondering if Cleveland is feasible as his long-term base in a career that demands multiple titles.
As much as Michael Jordan hated Detroit and the entire Bad Boys act, he always stuck around to shake hands with Isiah, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and the jerks who tried to break his limbs. LeBron’s quick escape against the dignified Magic was inexcusable and shows he’s still learning about life, competition and doing the right thing. I don’t care that he sent an e-mail to Howard after the game. Show your respects in public, so the victors can look you in the eye and the masses can see you have class. I wanted to wait and hear his explanation before commenting. I don’t like it. It’s crybaby stuff.