Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rant #24: Lebron's Exit Okay With Me

The Cleveland Cavaliers' Lebron James received a lot of flack for storming off the court after his team was eliminated from the National Basketball Association playoffs by the Orlando Magic the other night.

He was unhappy with both his and his team's performance, and he showed it by not shaking any of his opponents' hands and not having a news conference after the game. Some called him a cry baby, others said he was a sore loser.

He might be both, but you know what, I kind of agree with his attitude that he displayed after the game.

The Cavaliers were probably the NBA's best team during the regular season, and some experts predicted they had the talent to go all the way this year. Cleveland has not had a professional sports team win a championship for nearly 50 years, and this Cavaliers team was pegged to end that drought.

Well, they swept through their earlier playoff series, and then faced an Orlando team that, other than Dwight Howard, few people out of central Florida really know about.

Well, the Magic was another story, and whatever holes were to be found in the Cavaliers were not only found, but exploited by the Magic. Their lack of a real center was maximized by Howard, who confounded the Cavaliers from the opening tip in the first game to the final seconds of the finale.

James, as the Most Valuable Player in the league this year, couldn't carry his team to victory. The last game was truly hopeless, a blowout in every sense of the word.

Why should James be shaking hands and addressing media after such a game and such a season? He was angry and probably a bit embarrassed at his play, his team's play, and letting down Cleveland once again.

Again, this is not hockey, where players traditionally shake hands after a game after bashing heads for three periods. This is basketball, where these type of end-of-game greetings are really something new, something that has maybe started during the past five or six years or so with any regularity.

So give James a break. Do any of the sportswriters that chastised him for his behavior believe that if they were in James' place they would have acted differently?

I knock James frequently because I usually think he has a big mouth to go along with his enormous talent. However, this time, shutting his mouth has gotten him into trouble.

My question is, why all the fuss?

(And give the guy an extra break now--it has been announced that he had a benign growth removed from his jaw after the Cavaliers' playoff run ended.)

And my prediction for the finals: the Magic will beat the Lakers four games to three. I think Orlando is on a tremendous roll now, and they won't be easily stopped. Kobe Bryant and Co. will give it their all, but it isn't the Lakers' year this year. Earlier this year, I attended my first Magic game while on vacation in Florida. I was really impressed with everything surrounding the game and the team, and was especially impressed with Howard, who might be the best center in the game right now. This long-time Knicks fan continues to suffer with that team, but for one evening, I felt I was in the winner's circle once again.

Orlando in seven.

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