My beef with LeBron James

Handshakegate was overblown the minute it hit the teleprompter, the printer, and/or the online template.  So LeBron James didn't congratulate Dwight Howard on his annihilation of James' Cavaliers.  Big deal.  Rather, the focus of James' critics should have been placed on his decision not to address reporters after Cleveland's Game 6 loss.

Rook6980 over at Bullets Forever wrote this piece about James' unsportsmanlike attitude on the court.  It was a great assessment, but the most important point he made was near the end of the article in a single sentence:

It wasn't important enough to show up at the post-game interview; instead passing off that difficult task to teammate Mo Williams.

My beef with LeBron James is that he hung his teammates out to dry.  It's hard enough to answer questions about your team's lousy performance.  But to have to answer questions about LeBron's performance and his postgame attitude as well?  It makes everything much more difficult to take in.

If James has a fantastic game, it is his responsibility to address the media and answer questions about his performance.  If James has a horrible game or suffers a gut-wrenching loss, nothing changes; he still must address the media.  It's commonplace in the NBA to do so.  Every other Cavalier was aware of this, especially by the time they were done answering questions that didn't pertain to them.

People can make a fuss about LeBron's image being hurt by his postgame silence and lack of sportsmanship.  But that's a non-issue.  We're talking about LeBron James.  A single glance at one of those puppet commercials can make you forget about a small deal like not shaking hands.

But this has to do with teammates and being a good teammate.  LeBron put himself over his team, and while he may have to do so on the court, he should not do it off the court as well.  It is his job as the leader of the Cavaliers to face facts instead of running away from them. 

You always see Yao Ming talking to the press.  You see his angst, his frustration, his sadness.  You see all of the reasons why he should talking to his family, or to his team, or to someone he knows and trusts.  These are all of the same reasons why LeBron chose not to talk to the media.  But you see Yao up there every time.  That's what separates the two superstars.

In Remember the Titans, T.C. Williams defensive end Julius Campbell said, "Attitude reflects leadership."  In this case, it not only reflected LeBron James' leadership, but it also reflected the state of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  If the leader of the Cavs hides away from criticism, then the entire franchise appears to be hiding as well.

Now, let's stop talking about this and get ready for the finals.

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