10 January 2019

It's healthy to retire the braggadocio

Life has a way of 'pushing-down' the brag
People have egos. That’s a given. Some egos are massive, others are so tiny that they even seem non-existent. Some people are humble while others don’t seem to possess even an iota of humility. Some brag, others don’t. Some take criticism in the right spirit, some take umbrage and harbor grudges.  

The lives of sports personalities, especially the superstars, are not all about glamour and glory. Like all human beings they are subjected to the vicissitudes of life. Sometimes it happens in their private lives and sometimes in the sports they dedicate their lives to. The cases of Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods  are well known in terms of the former, and as for the latter ask any ‘superstar’ and you’ll hear about a lot of down days. 

Some take it well and others don’t. 

LeBron James knows basketball, its history and the history of the world he lives in. When necessary he talks about all these things. He has had to take his share of flak, some earned and some not. Kevin Durant recently opined that things are toxic around LeBron. KD later apologized. KD is a superstar just like LeBron, but whereas LeBron is considered one of the greatest to play the game if not the greatest ever, KD still has some way to go to be included in such conversations.

My friend Tony Courseault, in my opinion the greatest student of the game not to write or comment publicly on basketball, recently asked me what I thought of a claim made by LeBron. LeBron claimed he was the greatest basketball player ever. My take was this: some things are best left for others to say. 

It’s not that LeBron lacks credentials. Tony offered his list of greats: MJ (Michael Jordan), Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson and LeBron. Note, LeBron is the only one in that list who is still active, the others having retired a long time ago.

Still, it didn’t sound right.  

Different players respond to criticism in different ways. Some push aside such things as unnecessary noise.  They let their game do the talking. Angelo Mathews did that just a few days ago in New Zealand.

Angelo scored 258 runs in four test innings inclusive of a century and a half century. He got out just once. He headed the batting averages and aggregates among Sri Lankans. He, along with Kusal Mendis saved the second test. 

Now Angelo’s fitness had been questioned by the coach, Chandika Hathurusingha. Angelo let his bat do the talking. For the most part. After reaching his century in Wellington, he did 10 pushups. It was a clear jab at the coach. He didn’t have to. The statement had already been made out there in the middle and there’s no way that coach Hathurusingha couldn’t have got the message.  

In Christchurch, during the third test a few days later, Angelo injured his hamstring and was ruled out of the ODI series. 

Injuries are not predictable. Not all of them can be put down to lack of fitness. And yet, when fitness is in question and an injury occurs, there will be people who will pounce on the individual. Angelo is the most experienced cricketer Sri Lanka has. His ability is beyond question. He didn’t exactly do a LeBron, he didn’t brag, but one feels it would have been better if he showed a little grace.  

Lesser people have done worse. All things considered, though, it's probably healthier to retire braggadocio.