I was just watching ESPN, and they were doing a story about Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers popping off about how well he was doing in the playoffs against LeBron James of the Miami Heat. At the end, the host, Linda Cohn, said to analyst P.J. Carlessimo -- "Okay, it's really interesting. If Lance Stephenson is so great, why does he have to tell us he's getting under Lebron's skin?"
Well...hmm, here's one possible answer: because he's egotistical. I mean, what a concept, a star athlete with an ego. Who would imagine? A star athlete who brags and postures. I mean, one day we may even see an athlete who scores a touchdown or tackles a player or breaks up a pass and then dances around for the crowd. A player who slam dunks and then pounds his chest as he runs down the court. A ballplayer who hits a home run and stands at the plate making sure the crowd sees him admiring it. An athlete who has a microphone jammed in his face and asked, "Tell us how you did so great and won the game with that play?"
Yes, yes, I know this is not likely, but just imagine it happening one day. Imagine!
"If Lance Stephenson is so great," she asks, "why does he have to tell us?"
I should note that this is the same host who literally five minutes later led off a segment, "Let's go to Johnny Manziel. A man who likes attention" -- and then put on screen a photo Manziel tweeted of him at a pool party surrounded by a dozen girls in bikinis and guys in trunks, most preening for the camera holding up drinks.
Has ESPN not re-run -- and re-run -- videotape of Rickey Henderson stealing a base to break Ty Cobb's record, ripping out the base, holding it above his head and should, "Now, I am the greatest of all time"??!
Has ESPN not endlessly videotape of Muhammad Ali, for goodness sake, relentlessly proclaiming himself, "The Greatest!!!"?
Has ESPN already forgotten replaying the Seattle Seahawk's Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman's epic meltdown rant after the last Super Bowl about how great he was and so much better than Michael Crabtree -- "I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s what you’re going to get!" -- and has gone on ESPN to debate Skip Bayless while proclaiming, "I'm better at life than you!"???
Why does he have to tell us?
C'mon, he doesn't have to. He chose to. He wants to. He wants the attention. He's posturing. He likes the acclaim. It's entertainment, it's show biz. He draws fans to himself, and that can raise one's value. And besides, you ask him to. You goad him to. You pray to the TV Sports God he does.
And maybe, too, it's gamesmanship, where players -- all the time -- try to get into the head of your opponent. Try to get them thinking about you and not about what they're supposed to do. So, you tell reporters how good you're doing against someone, and that they are lost and don't stand a chance against you, because you're so much better..
And yes, maybe he is overcompensating, and he's not actually that great. It happens. Sometimes, after all, players try to build himself up, psyche himself that he can do the job.
But maybe not. Especially when you yourself, minutes later, explain how so much of it all is show biz. Including what you do.
In fairness, it's not inherently an unreasonable question, if you're seriously asking and truly want to analyze the motivations behind the statement. What's unreasonable is how it was asked, the suggestion that great athletes don't brag, and the context, most especially given what was said mere minutes later.
But sometimes, even when asking questions, you just want controversy. Which sort of answers your own question.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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