LeBron James said according to David Aldridge:
“I look at the handshake like this,” he said. “During the regular season, no one ever says anything. We play 82 regular-season games, eight preseason games, guys at the end of the game, no one ever shakes hands. Ever. And you move on to the next game. The congratulations, I congratulated Dwight (Howard) via e-mail, told him congratulations and good luck in the Finals. The shaking hands thing is really not a big thing for me. It’s not I’m a sore loser or anything like that. I’m just moving on. You guys beat me … I think sometimes people want you to accept losing, and I will never accept losing. There’s ways to handle it certain times, and shaking hands may be it. But I will never accept losing, at anything that I do.”
Did you read/hear that? “It’s not I’m a sore loser or anything like that… I will never accept losing… I will never accept losing at anything I do.” That my friends, is a definition of a sore loser. After I read that paragraph I quickly imagined LeBron James suited up and stepping on the court at the Staples Center with the Lakers and the Orlando Magic.
Kobe: LeBron, what are you doing here?
LeBron: Beating you for the NBA title foo!
Dwight Howard: But you lost last series.
LeBron: I’ll never accept losing. I didn’t lose. You lost. Now get off the court and let me win my 6th championship.
Kobe and Howard: 6th championship?!?!
LeBron: I’ve never lost a finals game and I never will accept losing at anything I do. 6th season=6th championship.
Now obviously LeBron lost in the conference finals and obviously he accepted it in one sense because he didn’t suit up and try to play in the NBA Finals. He didn’t seek to make an appeal to redo the series or a particular game. So what does LeBron mean by saying he won’t accept losing? Maybe he means that he expects better of himself and will always work his absolute hardest to win. Fair enough. But if you accept losing by not suiting up to attempt to play in a Laker-Magic NBA Finals, why not accept losing by shaking hands the way you did in the previous two playoff series when you demolished the Pistons and the Hawks (if he did, I haven’t checked on this but am assuming this).
I coach a 7 year old team and a 9 year old basketball team. I try to teach them good sportsmanship. And being a good sport is not making the sport, or winning the game, your god, your ultimate treasure, and/or building your identity on it. Being a good sport is playing your best to win the game, giving credit to where credit is due, and seeing that the game you just played, whether at the Shatto Rec Center in LA or in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, is not God and worth stubbornly holding on to.
For LeBron James to not accept losing the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and at the same time not accept losing at anything he does is impossible from a Christian perspective. To refuse to accept losing in a basketball game is to lose in honoring God, enjoying God, and being an example of a “winning” lifestyle (in that moment). You lose when you choose to treasure something above God. You lose when you sin. And if LeBron says, “I don’t accept losing in enjoying God and life” then I say, “You are not God, you cannot define or change reality and say what winning and losing is. And if you don’t accept it, you’re a sore loser not only in basketball, but with God and life in general.”
A sore loser is someone who won’t reasonably accept losing. And it doesn’t stay in the sport world, it’s a reflection of the heart and manifests pride and a desire to be God. I’m not saying this because I never am a sore loser. I sinned in this way in wanting some people who are not bound to follow my schedule to follow my schedule for a decision I needed to make. Then I got bitter when they didn’t follow my desired schedule (though they did absolutely nothing wrong in this before God nor towards me). What a proud man I was to want the world to revolve around me and bend towards my desires and definitions. I and Lebron should just learn to accept reality as it is and bow the knee before the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in moments like these. Then not only will we avoid being sore losers, we’ll avoid being losers and be winning at what is far more important, life before God in this world at the present moment. To accept losing in smaller things (like a basketball game) is a step to winning in bigger things (life).