Imagine, if you will, Peyton Manning holding an hour-long press event to announce whether or not he will re-sign with the Colts in 2011. During the event, Peyton says he is leaving the Colts and will, instead, sign with the Miami Dolphins so he can win a Super Bowl with
Pat Riley Bill Parcells. Then, after that event, imagine Jim Irsay writing a letter to fans calling Peyton Manning a quitter, and even going so far as to cite specific games, and moments in those games, when he quit on the team.
"He quit," Irsay said. "Not just in the playoff game against the Patriots in 2004, but in the divisional round against the Chargers in 2007 and after he threw that pick for a touchdown in Super bowl 44. Watch the tape. The recent Super Bowl was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."
The best player in a major, multi-billion dollar sports league accused of doing the absolutely unthinkable: Quitting in a playoff game.
Think of the fallout. Think of how utterly destroyed and dis-credited the NFL would become.
Last night, that is exactly what we saw, but the players involved were not Peyton Manning, Jim Irsay, and the NFL. The dramatis personae for this tragedy was the supposed best player in basketball (LeBron James) Dan Gilbert (owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers), and the sad, pathetic excuse of a professional sports league known as the NBA.
Last night, we saw a narcissistic chump of a human being (James) string along a loyal, dedicated fanbase for years and then, in a complete act of cowardice, cut them off and run to another team loaded with superstars. In response to this move, the man who once paid James millions of dollars to play basketball for his team (Gilbert) called James a coward and a quitter. He even went so far as to note games, and situations, in which he knew his one-time star player had given up:
"He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."
The Cavaliers were beaten by 32 points in Game 5. During the game, James appeared distracted and uninterested, often glaring at Cleveland's coaches as the Cavs tried to foul to get back into the game in the second half. James also made some puzzling postgame comments, saying he had "spoiled" people with his play over seven seasons.
Gilbert also said he believes James quit on the Cavs in Game 6 of their series in 2009 against Orlando.
"Go back and look at the tape," he said. "How many shots did he take?"
There are two things that, for the Midwestern fan, are absolutely and completely unforgivable: Quitting and cheating. It doesn't matter how many games you win, how many points you score, or what sports drink you pimp. Quit or cheat once, just once, and Midwestern fans will shun you. Call it what you want. Stubbornness. Unrealistic expectations. Pride.
I call it standards. I call it accountability.
We've seen a lot of crazy crap happen in the NFL, from coaches getting caught cheating with spy cameras to players stomping on opponents' heads with their cleats. I have never, EVER seen an incident were an NFL owner has called out the best player in their league and tagged him a quitter. I hope I never do.
As an Indiana fan, I will always love the local teams. I love the Pacers. I bleed the Colts. However, the team is part of a much bigger league, and if the league is rotten to the core, it rots the team as well. If Pacers brass want to know what there are so many empty seats at Conseco, part of it is the team's record the last few years, but equally important is Indiana fans being abjectly disgusted with the current state of the NBA.
When the silly events surrounding free agent signings, and the ridiculous build-up to those signings, are more important than the games themselves, is the NBA then really worth your money? Is it really?
Also, FYI: Reggie Miller is a better player than LeBron James. Period. Anyone who disagrees is a loser and a schmuck who values silly attributes like raw talent over guts, courage, and a willingness to win. Oh, and Reggie never quit on a game. Ever. No matter the game. No matter the opponent. No matter the odds stacked against him. Don't believe me, watch this, and then STFU:
This video was back when the NBA was a real sports league. Today, It's not a true, competitive league anymore. It's a circus, and the players are the clowns.