06-02-2009, 12:36 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Re: Postgame actions of football and basketball players as opposed to baseball player
Two of a kind: Sidney Crosby, LeBron James caught in the media's glare
BY DREW SHARP
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
The privileged aren't allowed the luxury of being frustrated. They have to smile and take it because every action and reaction is scrutinized.
And when they come across as too robotic or too casual in defeat, they're reviled for not wanting to win badly enough.
And when they expose a human side, complaining a little too vociferously or frowning too much in defeat, they're branded as spoiled brats.
Sidney Crosby and LeBron James are kindred targets, prodigies who are the best players in their respective sports. It's also why they're despised, because they somehow haven't accomplished enough to warrant the lavish attention showered on them.
LeBron didn't shake hands with Magic players after Cleveland bowed to Orlando in the NBA playoffs, and you'd think civilization was rocked to its primitive core.
Crosby clipped Kirk Maltby's skate following the Red Wings' Game 1 victory over Pittsburgh, and the two exchanged verbal pleasantries. Such psychological back-and-forth happens all the time in a playoff series, but because Crosby can't do anything outside of the camera's eye, the shtick with the stick added more Kleenex to the ticker-tape shower for supposedly the NHL's biggest crybaby.
The problem isn't with Crosby and LeBron.
We're the problem. It's the fault of media, fans and a corporate culture that places a premium on establishing superstars. Either you want these guys to win or you want them to lose. But, either way, you're paying attention to them.
Neither Crosby nor James merits any "Aw, poor baby" sympathy because they willingly accept the money that comes from being hockey's and basketball's "chosen ones." But if LeBron's worst sin is not giving Dwight Howard a quick, insincere fist-bump after The Man of Steel humbled His Royal Majesty, then LeBron becomes a candidate for sainthood considering the far more serious transgressions of his contemporaries.
The NHL should tell Crosby to follow James' lead and not shake the Wings' hands once the Penguins have lost the Stanley Cup for the second straight year.
It would keep hockey on the mainstream media radar, even though some players haven't participated in the traditional end-of-series handshake at center ice.
Chris Chelios didn't shake hands with Anaheim after the Ducks eliminated the Wings in the 2007 Western Conference finals. New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur held a grudge against New York's Sean Avery last year and didn't shake hands.
Crosby's going to blow before this series ends. Henrik Zetterberg is in his head. And the Penguins must win tonight to have any chance of extending this accelerated series beyond Saturday.
Nobody's disputing that there's oversaturation -- too much Kid and too much King. But there's an idiotic notion that both are somehow overrated, artificially propped up by their leagues and national media and corporate partners.
But the argument that both have been charitably given what others have dutifully earned collapses under this point: If you were starting an NHL and NBA franchise right now and could choose one player to start the foundation at his current age and skill level, you would take the 21-year-old Crosby and the 24-year-old James.
It's not even a debate.