Lebron a bad sport?

Orlando Magic win the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James walks off the court. He does not stop. He does not shake hands with Dwight Howard. He does not speak to the media.

Is LeBron James a bad sport or simply uber-competitive?

Oddly, James revealed afterwards that he emailed friend, Howard to explain his stance on post-game congratulatory behaviour:

“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” he said. “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.”

This response is somewhat congruent with what we’ve seen previously from LBJ. In particular, I point to James’ actions during the Beijing Olympics, when some opponents were dissatisfied with perceived unsportsmanlike behaviour. On August 29, 2008, on the old A Stern Warning site, I wrote this on the Australian team’s meeting with Team USA:

The debate on this topic is pretty pointless amongst sports fans, as none of us were on the court to witness the reality of it all, however I will point you to look at the final handshakes after USA had disposed of Australia quite cleanly. From my viewing of that sequence, Bryant was indeed the only player to make an effort to talk to each player he shook hands with and in particular LeBron James did not appear to even look the players in the eye as he shook hands with them all.

So perhaps this email from James explains that he simply does not like the whole concept of shaking hands after a game and does not mean to disrespect his opponents. Notwithstanding this, it does make you wonder what type of upbringing LeBron had that he does not feel it normal or necessary to observe a standard post-game ritual of shaking hands with one’s opponent. Does he feel that it detracts from his competitive advantage or reveals some kind of weakness?

Use the comments section to share your thoughts.

Meanwhile, Cleveland’s #23 was as contradictory as ever in his talk of whether he will stay in a Cavs’ uniform post 2010. On the topic of whether he’ll take an extension from the Cavs on July 18, he replied:

“I don’t know,” James said when asked if he’ll sign. “I haven’t thought about it just yet. I’m just going to take time off from basketball and not think about contracts or the game period. I’ll relax with my family we’ll figure out once it comes from them.”

Clearly, the future is unclear. He hasn’t said that he will stay and on the other hand, he hasn’t started singing this song yet…


Mad props to @JonesOnTheNBA via @Nat77 for the original story link via Twitter.