LeBron James would never make it in the National Hockey League.
Players in the NHL line up for a ceremonial handshake at the end of a playoff series in what is among the greatest traditions in all of professional sports. Men that knocked each other into the boards and crossed checked when no one was watching being able to show respect for each other is sportsmanship at its best.
James' idea of showing respect for the Orlando Magic after their 4-2 series win over the Cavaliers was to rush to the locker room, turning his broad shoulders coldly to the team that had just jump-started his summer vacation. Figuratively he did his extend a hand, but there was a certain finger that was pointed upward.
James addressed his post-game actions a day later, all but admitting that he doesn't handle losing well. He wanted no part of congratulating players on a team that had just ended a Cavs' season that seemingly had NBA championship written all over it.
What a great role model for the youth of today. It must make him feel warm and fuzzy all over when millions of kids wear a Cavs' 23 jersey, knowing that many want to be just like him - run fast, jump high, make millions of dollars in commercial endorsements and be a poor loser.
We keep hearing about how James addresses the media before each game and generally gives his time in ways that is foreign to other superstars. Apparently that buys him a mulligan on good sportsmanship when the talcum powder blows up in his face.
The NBA was all but finished with the Cavs before James arrived as the savior in 2003, and the franchise will likely fall into oblivion once he leaves. Cleveland thinks football and baseball before it gives a thought to basketball. James' ability to make the Cavs relevant has raised him to a rare level of stardom in a city of broken dreams.
In accepting the role, James has supplied fans with countless memories, given "60 Minutes" air time and exhibited his theatrical skills on "Saturday Night Live." He handled each role with the ease of someone being born to entertain.
James enjoys rock-star status in the United States and world-wide recognition comparable to the fame once given to Muhammad Ali in other countries. Investors from China are reportedly closing in on a deal to assume financial control of the Cavs, which would increase his marketability in a country that controls much of our skyrocketing debt.
In essence, James' image is larger than the Cavaliers, larger than the NBA and larger than almost every professional athlete in the world. After the loss to the Magic last Saturday, James was anything but the largest player on the court.
His quick exit from the floor and decision not to attend a post-game press conference were small-minded and embarrassing for the NBA, which promotes him as its face to the world.
In Cleveland James takes on ethereal status as someone being chosen for greatness. Fans that can afford to pay the price to attend a game are considered to be witnesses.
What was witnessed last Saturday wasn't a thing of greatness. If anything, it was shameful.
Now I know why I like hockey so much.