A Few Words On Sportsmanship From Jay Mariotti

If there’s one person I trust to be an arbiter on classy behavior and good sportsmanship, it’s Jay Mariotti. Our nation’s foremost user of hair products proved that most dramatically in August of last year when he resigned from the Chicago Sun-Times, daggering everyone at the paper on his way out, smearing verbal feces on the walls and doing donuts in the parking lot before speeding away in a cloud of self righteousness. Five months later he was still going on about it. Sample quote: “Roger Ebert can kiss my ass.”

Jay Mariotti, Lebron James

Cut to Saturday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, as the Cavaliers are eliminated by the Magic. LeBron James exits the arena without shaking hands with his opponents or congratulating anyone. Mariotti, now writing for AOL, is aghast (I believe his monocle popped out), and proceeded to type furiously about how wrong it was for LeBron to act that way, calling him, among other things, a “crybaby.”

Pot, may I introduce you to kettle? And please do try the crab puffs.

From Mariotti’s column on AOL today:

But much as Jordan hated Detroit and the entire Bad Boys act, he always stuck around to shake hands with Isiah, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and the jerks who tried to break his limbs. LeBron’s quick escape against the dignified Magic was inexcusable and shows he’s still learning about life, competition and doing the right thing. I don’t care that he sent an e-mail to Howard after the game. Show your respects in public, so the victors can look you in the eye and the masses can see you have class. I wanted to wait and hear his explanation before commenting. I don’t like it. It’s crybaby stuff.

Now I’m all for the post-game handshake, even though it can sometimes go horribly wrong. But I don’t think that LeBron eschewing the tradition is the end of the world. Hey, he emailed his congratulations afterward — and that’s the new handshake, isn’t it? It makes sense, especially with the swine flu going around, to change the rules in the era of new technology. Instead of the traditional hand slapping following Little League games, why not just let the kids text their good wishes? “Gd gme, gd gme, gd gme, gd gme …” — sent from Jason’s iPhone.

And the whole things just takes on a repellent odor when Mariotti is the messenger. Remember it was of Mariotti that Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke said: “That’s Jay’s opinion. He has plenty of them. But the facts, of course, say something different. I’m going with the facts. Well, it’s turning nasty … and that’s typical of Jay to throw a bomb on the way out of a place that cared for him, nurtured him, paid him well for 17 years.

Having Mariotti call out Lebron for skipping the post-game press conference is like, oh, figure out your own analogy. I just know that Jay calling someone else classless could  cause a rip in the space-time continuum. And I can’t chance being sent back to the ’70s — I simply won’t wear those clothes.