As Abraham Lincoln (or was it Mark Twain?) once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Replace the term "fool" with "whiner," and our nation's most revered president (or author) provides some apt advice for the best players in both the NHL and NBA, Sidney ("Sid the Kid") Crosby, and LeBron ("King") James.
Sometimes, how you play the game really is more important than whether you win or lose, especially when you play the right way (or at least, refrain from playing the wrong way), and are rewarded for your efforts by winning anyway. Such was the case this past Saturday night with the defeats of both Crosby’s Penguins, and LeBron’s Heat, as the best players in both their leagues were reminded, respectively, that no matter how much they complain about officiating, they are not greater than the games they play. (A hard truth, to be sure.)
The delivery of this message was potentially the most enjoyable aspect of Saturday night’s two nationally-televised playoff games, as the underdog Boston Bruins beat the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins, and the defensive-juggernaut Indiana Pacers sent the defending champion Miami Heat (and their collective talents) back to South Beach for tonight’s decisive Game 7 (which the Heat will likely win because, even though he’s so often the king of the whiners, LeBron is still the best hoops player on the planet, and is therefore more than capable of winning a decisive game, and thus a series, all by himself).
Ours is a highlight reel sports culture, full of slap shots and slam dunks. But this past weekend gave us these two “highlights,” from two separate games, from these two different sports, both of which feature their leagues’ best players (and respective team’s captain) whining about officiating, and how the game isn't going how they want it to be, that mirror each other a bit too closely.
1. LeBron gets called for an offensive foul (“The horror!”), then proceeds to run down the length of the court in a fit of disbelief:
2. Crosby (top of the screen) bumps Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, then proceeds to get into a shouting match with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara (who, at six foot nine, could probably shatter Crosby’s surgically-repaired jaw with ease of someone flinging a mosquito off thier forearm), while effectively hiding behind the referee (but still poking at Chara, the proverbial bear, in this case):
Then, Team Superstar Whiners proceede to make it even worse with their postgame comments.
"I thought it was a pretty bad call. I don’t complain about calls too much … So, you know, it just stopped me from being ejected. I think at that moment I just got away from the ref that called it. I ran down the court to get me away from the scene of the crime, I guess." - LeBron
"They're letting a lot go out there, and the more it gets like that, the more it’s going to escalate. You can only control and channel that stuff so much. You keep letting guys do that stuff, you’re just going to push the envelope." - Crosby
Really superstar captains and most marketable players in the world in your respective leagues? Really? Whining and pouting on national TV, and then defending your immature actions later, as well? P-lease.
Next time, spare us meager sports fans the drama, and kindly heed the wise words of Abe Lincoln. Or was it Mark Twain?