Not how it should be: Heat, Lebron James, and bad sportsmanship

The Miami Heat lost to the Chicago Bulls in a hard fought game with lots of hard fouls. This loss brought an end to the Heats amazing win streak. (As a sports fan, the streak was exciting and I sort of wanted it to continue, but as a Celtics fan, I am glad to see the Heat finally lose.)

Immediately after the game, the Heat headed straight to the locker rooms without shaking ends or interacting with the Bulls players. This prompted the following exchange between the announcers:

Mike Breen: Didn’t have the normal post-game hand shake and hugs. The Heat went right back to the locker room, not interested at all. And you love that.

Jeff Van Gundy: That is how it should be. Teams should compete so hard against each other that at the end of the night, it shouldn’t be warm and friendly. There’s nothing wrong with this; it wasn’t bad sportsmanship by the Heat.

Mike Breen: Absolutely not. But it goes against what we normally see night in and night out.

No, that is not how it should be. Yes, that is bad sportsmanship. Teams should compete hard, play as hard and as tough as they can. But the very essence of good sportsmanship is that when the game is over, you step outside that frame of mind. You acknowledge the victor. You walk away with dignity and grace (not pout and make a beeline for the locker room). Especially after a game like this. A historic streak was on the line and it was lost in a tough, emotional battle. Both sides played well down to the wire. This is precisely when good sportsmanship is needed most: to temper your disappointment and emotions so that you show the appropriate respect to your opponent. The Bulls deserve the respect that would be shown by a simple handshake.

Now, in some pro sports the post-game handshake is not customary; in baseball for example, it is rare to see the teams shake hands at the end of a game. So there is nothing disrespectful there about not shaking hands. But it is, as the announcers acknowledge, the normal thing in basketball, so by not doing it, the Heat are showing disrespect, or at best their lack of being able to lose gracefully. Both, though, are precisely what is meant by bad sportsmanship.

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5 Comments

Filed under basketball, sportsmanship

5 responses to “Not how it should be: Heat, Lebron James, and bad sportsmanship

  1. Sean

    The announcer two was Jeff Van Gundy who is a tool. the guy would justify anything Lebron and the Heat do.His man crush is embarrassing, so is his double standards. Arrogant sportsman that get paid fortunes to play basketball should at least display some sportmanship when they are beaten fairly by the better team on the day.

  2. William

    I agree, and this is not the first time that Lebron has pulled this classless move. He did the same thing when Orlando defeated the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. It’s one thing to have a desire to win and another thing entirely to pout and not give the winning team the credit they deserved.

    In my opinion, what makes this particularly hypocritical is that Lebron and Co. didn’t seem to take the first half of the season very seriously. There were a few games where they got down and didn’t fight very hard to get back in. Now all of a sudden he wants to act like this after a hard-fought regular season loss. Amazing that a 28-year-old, 6’8″, 250 lb. athlete can’t take a loss like a man.

  3. Totally agree. Dignity in defeat and in victory shows real inner strength (& human decency). Interestingly, in rugby, a referee is supposed to say at the end of a game ‘No Side’ which I think means – you are no longer opposite teams just members of the brotherhood of rugby/sport. Check out this amazing photo of the youngest player on the pitch having lost an All Ireland Final (& with 80,000+ fans going nuts) handing the opposition captain the ball with which he sored the winning point a few seconds earlier. http://tinyurl.com/7q57dl9

  4. Pingback: KWR: Mackey, Rent Control, Magatte, the Sports Ethicist, and Measuring Innovation » Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship

  5. Kim Deneault

    Bad sportsmanship and being classless is the definition of the Heat. No one denies their talent but it is more often than not PAINFUL to watch them with their flops, fouls, elbows, pushes and overall child-like pouting and whining when things don’t go their way. AND whom are they to complain….it appears that when playing in Miami, the refs seem to overlook their transgressions. They remind me of a bunch of PUNKS on the court. UGH. Love the game – disgusted by the Heat’s behavior. LeBron will NEVER be like Jordan or the truly great players – because he LACKS the class and sportsmanship. This is all sad but true. Rooting for anyone who beats them.

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