Nobody is perfect. Not even Lebron James. When he sulked his way out of the Amway Arena late Sunday night without shaking hands with members of the Orlando Magic, he inadvertently brought back memories of Isiah Thomas and the boorish “bad boys” of Detroit who will be forever remembered – not for their winning back-to-back NBA championships — but instead for their stalking off the basketball court when they should have been congratulating Michael Jordan and his victorious Bulls.
We all know that it hurts to lose, and if there is a downside to being “King James,” it might be that he hasn’t lost often enough. In skipping university, he deprived himself of some important life lessons. Had James shown poor sportsmanship while wearing a Duke uniform, for instance, odds are that Coach K would have provided him with some immediate moral instruction because Coach K, like most college coaches, is first and foremost a teacher.
Perhaps in a more perfect world, Lebron might have offered this comment after the game: “I want to congratulate the Orlando Magic for winning the Eastern Conference. Their victory is especially sweet, given that they achieved all of this without their all star point guard, Jameer Nelson. I also want to congratulate Coach Van Gundy, who was deprived of this experience a few years ago when that front-runner Pat Riley threw Stan under the bus once he realized that the Miami Heat were ready to win a championship.” (Ok, so maybe that isn’t exactly THE perfect comment, but it sure beats, “Hey, I’m a competitor…”)
One of the dangers in athletes’ moving beyond the realm of schools – whether it’s an adolescent’s missing out on the university experience in order to jump straight to the pros or a high school athlete who opts for the AAU or an “outside” sports program over his school squad, is that these youngsters may receive a lot of instruction without ever getting an education.