Monday, June 1, 2009

LeBron and Byner (but not the reason you think...)

Last week we saw as some national writers tried to turn a possible (and eventual, it turns out) loss by the Cavaliers into a giant choke job, on par with The Fumble. One writer even glossed him LeByner.

On the other hand, David Aldridge says that LeBron James should take a page out of Earnest Byner's handbook, and show the graciousness of a defeated player. Byner, who answered reporters questions over and over after The Fumble. Byner, who Aldridge says LeBron should call at the Tennessee Titan's headquarters.

After the clock ran down to zero Saturday night ... you walked off the court without shaking a single Orlando player's hand. Not one word of congratulations to a team that beat yours fair and square, after a tough series. That was poor sportsmanship, LeBron, no matter how you or any of your followers, acolytes and media protectors say otherwise.

No one likes to lose, especially someone as competitive as you, who's as used to winning, and winning big as you. You have won more in your short life than most people do in their entire lives. But that doesn't give you the right to be a poor loser, on the rare occasions that you lose.

Then, you got dressed, and walked out without speaking to anyone other than your teammates. Not to the Nike reps that were, reportedly, waiting to see you (they'll understand), to the Magic players in their locker room (not cool, again) or to the media that was waiting for you.

On that last one, I know: who cares? Well, a lot of people. You may think what we do doesn't matter, but we're still the conduit through which many fans that don't have Twitter or Facebook pages or anything else get their information about their teams and favorite players. You may not think so, but LeBron, you stiffed them, too -- many of whom are your loyal fans. You know that thousands of kids emulate you, want to be like you. Is this the lesson you want them to learn?

You did congratulate the Magic on Sunday for their victory, which was good. But you still said you were right not to shake hands. Not so good.


That's why you should call [Byner], LeBron. He knows.

And after you do, you'll know what to say, and what to do. It wouldn't hurt if you showed up at the Finals and shook Dwight Howard's hand, but however you want to handle it, you should handle it. It doesn't make you less of a winner to congratulate the dude that beat you. It makes you even more of a champion.