James defends not shaking hands

Updated: August 12, 2009, 10:08 AM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- LeBron James remains unrepentant for refusing to shake hands with the Orlando Magic after they ousted his Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

The reigning NBA MVP made that abundantly clear on Tuesday afternoon, while he was in town promoting his upcoming movie, "More Than a Game."

When asked by a reporter if he regretted not shaking hands since it gave him his first "black eye" in the court of public opinion, James said: "I still haven't had a black eye, for one. Two, I don't regret anything that I do. The only thing I apologize for that night is not doing the media [session, after the game].

"The media, your ... job don't start until ours' finish. You guys can't report and write you guys' story until we take a shower, until we come out and sit on the podium. That's the only thing I apologize for. As far as shaking hands, it's something that is not done in the NBA. If it was something like tennis, after tennis, you play, you win, you lose, you go to the center and shake hands, it happens every game in tennis."

James is convinced the reason the story drew so much attention over the past few months was due to the fact he blew off the obligatory media session after the Game 6 loss in Orlando.

"In basketball, you look at 82 regular-season games, it's easy, guys are gonna shake hands, the fact that [I didn't] do the media [session], I think that's why [the story] was all blown up, and I apologize for that, but I will not apologize for shaking nobody's hand," he said. "You never accept losing, ever."

When the reporter reminded James that most players usually shake hands at the end of a playoff series, James bristled again. "No you don't, no you don't," he responded.

After a few more seconds of back and forth, James continued to try to explain his position. "Teamwork has nothing to do with shaking hands," James said. "I'm not a poor sport at all. You can ask anyone that knows me, I'm not a poor sport at all. Who brought up the rule that shaking hands, that's what you're supposed to do? No one shakes hands at the end of series all the time. No one does that. No one does that at all."

James also touched on a number of different topics during his ten-minute news conference, such as playing for the Chicago Bulls. James becomes a free agent next summer.

"How would I like to play in Chicago? I don't know," he said. "I've never played in Chicago, but they've got great fans. It's a great city. It's one of the best cities that we have in America, but I'm very excited about being in Cleveland right now and this upcoming season. Hopefully we can [work] towards winning a championship."

As far as playing alongside Shaquille O'Neal, James said the goal remains the same.

"My expectations are us competing for a championship," he said. "That's the only expectation I have going into the season. I'm at a point in my career, if I'm not competing for an NBA championship, it's a failure, as a full season. I'm looking forward to it."

Did he like O'Neal's movies? "They were good, that's my teammate," he said.

James also sounded very interested in appearing in a movie.

"That's pending," he said. "You ever send somebody a Blackberry [message] and it says pending on the bottom of it? Yeah, well it's pending right now. We'll see what happens. Hopefully, we can make it happen soon, but if not, I'm gonna continue to get better with my game, and hopefully my businesses continue to improve."

James, 24, arrived in town in the wake of a story involving Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane. The 20-year-old was charged with felony robbery and other counts after he and his cousin James were allegedly involved in an altercation with a cab driver in Buffalo, N.Y. in the early morning hours of Sunday.

"It's not difficult at all [being a 20-year-old superstar]," James said. "Just go out there and you have a responsibility as a professional, and you be a professional either when you're on the court or off the court and everything else takes care of itself."

"I wish him the best," he added. "I wish him and his family the best, and hopefully they can get through this tough time."

James also gave a nod to another Chicago sports star, the Bulls' Derrick Rose.

"He was really good," James said. "He will be one of the best point guards we have in our league in the near future. They got a good one. They picked the right guy."

James was asked if he is surprised when players like Rose, 20, look up to him.

"I'm not surprised, because I've been in the game for a long time," James said. "I'm going into my seventh year, even though I'm still just 24 years old. I'm a veteran.

"I've seen everything the NBA has to offer, besides winning an NBA championship, so I have no problem with younger guys looking up to me. If they need advice, I'm one of those guys that would love to give it out."

And as far as kids in the city Michael Jordan called home for so long now looking up to James? He said it's humbling.

"As a kid, when Mike was playing, everybody wanted to be like Mike," James said. "He's the greatest basketball player to ever walk the face of the earth.

"For me to be in Chicago, and you see all these 5,000, 6,000 kids, look up to myself, it's humbling to see that they respect the way I play the game of basketball and respect what I do off the court, too."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

ALSO SEE