Jun 5, 2009

Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on When is a Standard Not a Standard?

When is a Standard Not a Standard?


   More LeBron stuff.  But I’ll be brief.  In the aftermath of LeBron James blowing off the press, David Stern the Commissioner of the NBA — normally a very bright and very powerful guy — made the surprising statement that the “league would not be fining LeBron for shirking his professional obligation to step up to the podium and face the press in the required post game conference.”  The explanation was simple.  Up until now, LeBron had been a good ambassador of the game and this was a first time infraction.   So Stern in his largesse thought he’d give James a pass.

Unfortunately the player guidelines say otherwise.  Being available to the press after the game is part of the job.  It is not discretionary.  The ramifications of making an exception for a favored son are two-fold.

On the one hand it sends a bad message to other players and the public.  If there is a different standard in enforcing league rules how do we know a similar policy doesn’t exist in the way games are called or drafts are run?  The NBA has always had deal with the murmurs that there was a conspiracy afoot to fix the outcome of playoff series to keep the marquee teams alive or skewing the lottery to ensure the right player landed with the right team.  There is an awful lot of discretion given to refs in the way a game is called and anything that might cloud that is a bad thing.

But the second potential fallout is the one I want to address.  It is the effect being favored has on LeBron himself.  By giving him a pass on the fine the league has deprived him of the right to reclaim his honor.   The have stolen from him the chance to “be cool” with his fellow players.  No one likes a teachers pet.  There is no greater short cut to teenage angst than getting pegged as the “golden boy” in school.  Bullies will look to take you down a few notches, kids will gladly rat you out.  It certainly is no different is sports.  Early on in Michael Jordan’s NBA career he was routinely frozen out of All-Star games.  His teammates would not pass him the ball and when he had it the opposing team would cover him twice as hard.

In my men’s organization, MDI, we have a simple concept called ‘regaining your honor”.  Men know that if they drop the ball somewhere, show up late, violate some team standard, they get to “clean it up” by a simple act; something like doing a series of push ups or singing “I’m a little teapot.”  It’s not intended to be punishment but rather an affirmation that we all have individual will and sometimes — consciously or unconsciously — we break the rules.  When that happens we can choose to put things right.

Maybe LeBron skipped that press conference knowing full well he’d be fined.  It was a decision he made knowingly.  What’s $25 grand to a multi millionaire anyway?

By removing the pre-ordained ramification from the equation, Stern chose to mess with leBron’s integrity and public esteem.  Fortunately Stern surrounds himself with smart people and a few days later he reversed himself and levied a fine on LeBron. 

So now we can stop talking about the snub and get on to the main event, the NBA finals.

As much as I’d like to pull for the Magic to win.  It is looking like the Lakers in Five. 

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