James has duty as role model to many

Published 7:14 pm Thursday, June 4, 2009

It’s very seldom the actions of an NBA playoff game would have ramifications on Chilton County. There aren’t any players from Chilton County currently playing in the league, nor is the NBA the No. 1 sport of choice for local residents.

But the actions of the league’s most prominent player did something this week that may be discussed locally.

Cleveland Cavalier star LeBron James had a fantastic series against the Orlando Magic, ending with the Cavalier’s losing in six games to end a fantastic season though they had the league’s best regular season record. James himself led the team in nearly every offensive category, played stellar defense and nearly single handedly led his team to the Eastern Conference title. He and his team fell just a little short.

But, James fell even further when he decided not to shake hands with his opponents following the final game and left the court without the first recognition of respect toward his opponents.

It is this action that—in my opinion—overshadowed every great shot and every great pass because the implications go beyond this single game or even season.

At the very basic level of sports, our coaches—including those coaching little league in Clanton, Jemison, Maplesville and Thorsby—teach the fundamentals. But, they also stress the importance of sportsmanship.

It is this core value of sportsmanship that is at the very basis of sport. Yes, winning is important, but good character is not defined when you win but rather how you act when you lose.

Acknowledging your opponent in victory is easy. It is the act of showing respect to the opponent that has defeated you that is tough but nonetheless important.

Losing is never easy, but it would seem an athlete and ultimate role model of LeBron James’ stature would understand this fact. Maybe he should take a lesson from some of our local little leaguers, who shake hands no matter the outcome.