On LeBron’s apology

Last night the Miami Heat won 98-90 in overtime, in Boston to take a 3-1 series lead back to Miami. While LeBron James was fantastic in the victory and finished with 35 points and 14 rebounds, perhaps the most important thing he said in his postgame media presser wasn’t about basketball at all.

After a ridiculously long wait for Dwyane Wade and James to come to the podium — one that had me cringing for beat writers on deadlines — James stopped things before answering a question that was directed toward him and took a moment to right a wrong he committed 48 hours earlier at that same podium.

“First of all…I want to apologize for using the R-word after Game 3. If I offended anyone I sincerely apologize.”

After calling a reporter’s question “retarded” after Saturday night’s loss, James declined an opportunity to issue an apology for his word choice when he had been asked about the comment during the Heat’s shootaround Monday morning. Somewhere between shootaround and the game though, James either had an epiphany that made him realize apologizing if you hurt someone is the right thing to do, or had someone thinking about his image get in touch with him. Regardless of what made him wake up, I’m glad he used an opportunity with all eyes on him to say that he was sorry.

Of course, apologizing by saying, “I’m sorry you were hurt,” isn’t the same as admitting any wrongdoing on his own behalf, but it’s better than nothing. I said yesterday, and I maintain, that I don’t think James was ever intending to hurt or alienate anyone with his unfortunate word choice on Saturday night, but it’s something we all have to be better at. If you know something unnecessarily hurts people, don’t say it. It’s entirely avoidable when there are so many words in the English language to use for “stupid.”

The apology James gave shows that he is sorry he hurt people, but doesn’t show that he realizes or understands why he shouldn’t be using the word in the first place. To be frank, he probably doesn’t. He said the word while being mic’d up in the first place, so it’s likely one he uses without a second thought. I wish it wasn’t like this, but apparently, as so many people have told me on Twitter, it is and this is a word that some people use in their every day vocabulary. That’s still mindboggling to me, but I digress.

The bottom line here is that James owned up to the fact that he offended people and he apologized for that. It might not have been the apology some wanted, but it was something and it was something he didn’t have to do. I’m glad he took a few moments to apologize for any pain his words may have caused and I’m hopeful he won’t want to have to give the same apology again.

I’m also thinking someone should shoot a thesaurus his way the next time he wants to call something stupid.