Only a day after it was announced that LeBron James would receive his fourth MVP award, James simply couldn’t stay out of the news for long; this time, however, the news isn’t positive. Following the Miami Heat’s game 1 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night (93-86), James chose not to go to the podium to address the media after the game and instead opted to talk with the media solely from the locker room. Is this the action of a coward, a sore loser or a frustrated superstar? Whatever your opinion is on the matter, this latest action is only further proof that James has a long way to go before he can rightfully proclaim himself the King.
James had a quiet game 1 and only generated 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the Heat’s loss. The key word in that phrase was only, as you can tell it was definitely an off night for James and he still put up solid all-around numbers that most players would gladly take on any given night, let alone the playoffs. However, as we all know, James is held to a higher standard than most players and rightfully so.
As a superstar and face of the game of basketball, there are certain expectations that are placed upon him that should be upheld on a game-to-game basis. One is meeting with the media following an important and drama-filled game like the one on Monday night. It wasn’t as if James completely avoided speaking with the media entirely after the game, but not going to the podium afterwards certainly gave off a perception about James’ demeanor following the defeat.
When James and the Heat have a great game, they are some of the first people to hop onto the podium to talk with the media about their performances on that given night. Interestingly enough, however, James wasn’t willing to talk with reporters after a loss on Monday night. In my opinion, James’ decision to avoid the podium was directly related to his immaturity and frustration of losing to what he believes is an “inferior” team. James has gone to the podium numerous times throughout his career — even in the playoffs — when he has lost a disheartening game or has performed poorly in a game; so why was Monday’s game one loss any different?
A lot of it likely has to do with James’ frustration with the Bulls and their gritty style of play. The Bulls play a physical brand of basketball that can get under the skin of a lot of the players. When the Bulls ended the Heat’s 27-game winning streak during the regular season, James complained about the Bulls getting away with some physical play and again on Monday night, you could see him becoming disgusted and complaining to the referees about missed calls. James simply needs to get over the physical play and start to dominate the game like he has the ability to do. Physical play should be no deterrent to that because James himself likes to play physical and is the most physically dominant specimen the game of basketball has ever seen.
What James’ action really boils down to is immaturity. James wants to be treated like a superstar and wants to establish himself as one of the greatest to ever play the game. Even though he may perceive the Bulls as an inferior team because of the lack of superstars they have and the unattractive style of play they employ, the fact of the matter is they outplayed the Heat on Monday night. It is time for James to realize that the Bulls present a legitimate matchup problem for the Heat. In doing so, he should give credit to the Bulls for their performance, not hide in the locker room as if to avoid confrontation.
Now is not the time for James to act like a child and avoid the spotlight. Instead, it should be an opportunity for him to speak out about his team’s shortcomings and give credit to the Bulls for exposing one of their weaknesses as a ball club. By doing that, James would show professionalism, reflection and sportsmanship, all of which are hallmarks of superstars.
James is one of the brightest superstars in the game of basketball, it’s about time he starts acting like it.