LeBron, let’s be a “sport” on and off the court

Tyler Sworden and Tyler Sworden

For those of you who do not follow sports, this column is probably not for you. However, if you do care about sports, specifically pro basketball, than please listen to my rant regarding LeBron James’ latest actions.

James did not shake hands with any player from the Orlando Magic after Cleveland was eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday. He also did not talk to the media afterwards.

The next day he e-mailed Magic standout Dwight Howard, saying: ‘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.’

According to a National Basketball Association spokesman, James will not be fined for giving the media the cold shoulder. But to me money is not the big issue here.

First off let me make it clear that I do not like the Cleveland Cavaliers. I have been a Chicago Bulls fan my entire life. When James entered the NBA I did not care for him due to the hype he was getting in relation to Michael Jordan.

Love him or hate him, James has created such a buzz, not just about himself, but for the league as a whole. I think people are starting to care more about basketball. Even more noteworthy is the resurged interest in all the Cleveland fans who have for so many years been dormant due to the team’s mediocrity.

But as time passed, I grew to respect him a little more because of what he was doing for basketball.

Until now. What kind of example is this guy setting?

I played basketball in school and I am very competitive too. However, I was also taught this thing called sportsmanship. But I would like to believe James is a good representative of class. This leads me to believe that his actions are an example of something a little more weighted than a disappointing playoff run.

James came to the league six years ago with high expectations as the best player in the game and hopes of a quick rise to a title. Perhaps he is growing tired of the front office’s inability to build a team around him. Yes, the Cavs were the best team during the regular season, but that was because the supporting cast was just that, supportive. In the playoffs, James didn’t have much help.

This leads to the next big question: How much longer is James going to stay in Cleveland? He becomes a free agent next summer, but this summer he will have the opportunity to sign an extension.

Don’t expect it, because general manager Danny Ferry doesn’t have much salary cap room to bring in bigger names to help James.

Nevertheless, wherever James plays he is sure to continue to get the attention and more preferential treatment. I can only wonder what the reaction would have been if Jordan, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson acted this way years ago. But the difference between them and James is they are champions.

James has earned respect because of the athlete he is. But to be the best you have to beat the best. James is arguably the best player in the league but Cleveland is far from the best team.

Hopefully someone can step up and tell James just how unsportsmanlike and embarrassing his actions were.

LeBron, I don’t care if you were sickened, devastated or upset about losing. I don’t care if you’re a competitor who doesn’t accept losing. You have gotten to the point in your career and your life where you need to own up for your actions. Call yourself a winner, but buddy, enjoy your off-season golfing. You are just lucky the Bulls have yet to get a piece of you in the postseason.

For you Cleveland fans, there is a line I must draw between loyalty and stupidity.