Now that we are in the throws of the off-season(the Finals not with-standing), there will be less and less pure news, and more and more of my opinion(as well as Brad and Turk). I will try to give some of my thoughts each day in this platform, 'Quick Thoughts'. Not very catchy, but if one of you thinks of a better name, let me know.
Today's 'Quick Thought' is about who else, LeBron James. The non-handshake/media appearance has gotten tons of play, which makes sense since every move LeBron makes gets talked about ad nauseum. Of course, James is getting killed for being a 'sore loser' and 'bad sport'. A word to the wise, get over it!
There are really two parts to this, as David Stern talked about yesterday. First, there are the rules. The NBA requires players to be available to the media after games. For that, LeBron was wrong. The NBA has already stated they will no fine James because they have never had an issue before. Case closed.
Now, to the handshake. You might think I am taking the side of James because I'm a homer. Actually, my feelings about this go much deeper. I tend to lean towards Mike Ditka, who has always criticized the coaches hand-shake in the NFL. In PROFESSIONAL sports, where guys make their living trying to WIN GAMES, sportsmanship takes on a bit of a different role. I want guys to play hard, give 100%, avoid cheating, and most importantly, play clean. In the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, that is sportsmanship, at least in my book.
I am a coach of a youth soccer team, and youth baseball team. One of my responsibilities is to teach these kids how to play the game right, with good sportsmanship. After every game, we shake hands. The big difference, obviously, is these kids are playing for fun. Unbeknown to them, we are also educating them on life. There is 'winning and losing' in all facets of life, and handling those situations correctly is an important life lesson.
Pro sports, however, is different. It is different from 'real life' in every way! The money these guys make, how important we make them in society. Should LeBron make more money for one game than a grade-school teacher makes in a year? Of course not. These guys are different and 'play' by different social rules.
To me, these coaches are essentially trying to get the other guy fired. Plain and simple. If Mike Brown loses to these other coaches more than he wins, he will lose his job. Same with the players. If that was your life, everyday, would be in the mood to give hugs? Is a fake handshake, with no meaning behind it better?
I'm not telling anyone how they should feel. Just giving my opinion, but I will say this. Come stronger in this debate than telling me LeBron is a role-model. While I think kids do look up to these athletes, and they do try to emulate them, it is MY JOB as a parent and coach to instill the morals. If one of the kids on my teams decides not to shake hands because LeBron James refused, then I am not doing my job.
If the NBA wants to force guys to shake hands after a series, follow the NHL model. Everyone line up and shake hands. There is something special about it, because it was instilled as part of the game. Everyone else, forget the fake public display and be real.