A teaching moment

Posted: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Time for parents to step up.

LeBron James, star of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, refused to shake hands with Orlando players after the Magic defeated the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals. Orlando will face Los Angeles in game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Mr James also left the arena without meeting with his Nike sponsors or visiting the press room to answer media questions about the game.

Mr James, age 24, said of his behavior,

"One thing about me you gotta understand; it is hard for me to congratulate somebody after just losing to him...I'm a winner. That's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you are not going to congratulate them [for] beating you up. That doesn't make sense to me, I'm a competitor and that is what I do. It doesn't make sense to me to go over and shake somebody's hand."

There you go, parents.

This is a young man with extraordinary basketball skills. He gave his all during the 6 games. He had one of the greatest playoff runs by an individual player in NBA history. He's the MVP of the league for 2008-09.

But he couldn't walk over to one of his Team USA mates, who had just had his own extraordinary series and is about to fulfill one of his dreams...to play in the NBA finals and try to become a champion...Mr James couldn't be bothered to congratulate that other young man on a hard fought victory.

There's your teaching moment. Get it right.

Anyone can be a gracious winner. It takes a true sportsman to be gracious in defeat.

Winner? Competitor? Sorry Mr James. Try that again.

But thank you for the teaching moment.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Trav what a shame that is for him to do that. What kind of example is he setting for the youth today that worship the ground he walks on? It was a sad day when that happened and I hope everyone with children reads this posts and sets their children right. Whenever I have my nieces and newphews with me is respect for all, gratitude and thankfulness. Whether you win or loose it's how you play the game and the same goes for anyone else in that game. He owes everyone an I'm sorry. He should be ashamed of himself. Excellent post :)

  1. barb says:

    Have you ever watched parents at a T-ball game? It starts there.

    My ex use to coach Little League Baseball. The kids were great... the parents, not so much. Shameful, actually. And the whole Board Members thing... they reminded me of polititians. He ended up quitting after a few years.

  1. Even at 24, Mr. James still has some growing up to do.

  1. Anndi says:

    This is what happens when young athletes are taught that winning is everything and when those with excellent skills (God given or hard-earned) are so overindulged they feel entitled by stepping straight out of High School and skipping an actual education to go straight into big money sports.

    I would think LeBron's momma needs to have a chat with her baby.

  1. Anonymous says:

    That is not a winning attitude. That is pure selfishness...

    Thanks for pointing that out. I, too, hope that parents use this as a teaching tool.

    ... and what driller said.

  1. Bond says:

    Nicely done Travis.

    His explanation fell flat with me.

    Unfortunate, as it is really the first black mark on his record.

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    Yup, LBJ has some growing up to do. Go, Lakers! ;o)

  1. Jeni says:

    Somebody needs to return to kindergarten and learn one of the first rules of life! Actually, I think a lot of people, athletes in particular, need to go back to the early learning grades and take a long, hard, course in social skills.
    Excellent post, Trav!

  1. It IS poor sportsmanship and diminishes him as a human being. Of course, I don't hold real people up as heroes anymore and this doesn't surprise me at all.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Mr James' parents didn't bring him up right!

  1. Even if he does think that way, I suppose as a public figure he should have not said such a thing and displayed such behavior...

  1. Oh, don't get me started.

  1. jennifer says:

    Extreme pride - it's like some athletes are being taught more of that than sportsmanship.

    The most refreshing thing that we experienced this year during our baseball season (coach pitch) was that many of the coaches encouraged players on both sides. They understood that this was a learning period for the kids - competition comes pretty naturally (self) but thinking of others is much harder. In a couple of years this will change I know but still a good lesson for players AND parents.

  1. not only his momma...but his coach and his sponsors need to have a little chat with him.

    24 is still very young...

  1. TopChamp says:

    He sounds like a total prat.

  1. Linda says:

    I believe that even in boxing matches, where people are beating each other up, that the defeated opponent congratulates the winning opponent so maybe Mr. James needs to rethink his whole philosophy.

    I think you can tell a lot more about a person from how they handle defeat rather than how they handle winning. This spoke volumes about LeBron James.

  1. Travis says:

    Thom: I thought he was better than that. Evidently not so much.

    Barb: One of the things I enjoy about watching the Little League World Series during the summer is that everyone tries their best, cries after a tough loss, runs around like crazy when they win, and slap five/give hugs at the end of every game. And 10 minutes later the kids are in the pool or the game room, co-mingled and having a blast. Keep score and celebrate the winner, but remember that everyone is trying their best and sportsmanship is honorable.

    Drilleraa: If 12 is old enough to know better, then I think 24 should be too.

    Ann: Winning is always better than losing. But how you win and how you lose is even more important.

    Lois: Indeed.

    Marsha: Thanks.

    V: I took my time to get to know the kid when he first came into the league. I liked everything I saw. This is the first time he has made me look twice. It's really a shame.

    Ivanhoe: He'll only take that lesson if word comes from someone he respects. He's being excused right now and the media and fans are being told that it's no big deal.

    Jeni: You're right...it can be as simple as common courtesy.

    Charles: That's why I wrote this post the way I did...to try to make something positive out of what he did.

    Akelamalu: See, I remember when he was the big deal coming out of high school. Everything I read about the kid seemed to indicate that he was getting it right.

    NNG: I couldn't say.

    Terra: Good point.

    Mimi: OK.

    Jennifer: That's what I always tried to do when I coached youth. I'd ask the other coach if he minded me pointing something out to one of his kids, and if he was ok with it, then I did it.

    Katherine: Except that the coach, team officials, and sponsors are excusing the behavior.

    TC: I don't think he's a total prat. He just messed up here, IMO.

    Linda: Indeed it did.

  1. Raven says:

    Well said. What a shame that there are no responsible adults to sit down with this kid and give him some wise counsel.

  1. Kanani says:

    Unfortunately, there are some people like this, who for whatever reason can never get beyond their own ego.

  1. Not to generalize, but a lot of what's wrong with us is this sort of attitude.
    You made some excellent points - too bad that the people who need to see them, won't.