The Courtroom: CryGate

Lebron James takes a hard foul against the Bulls 3/6/2011

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about what is now being called “CryGate.”  This whole incident started when Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the media after a loss to the Chicago Bulls 87-86 on March 6th.  Spoelstra told the media that a “couple of guys [are] crying in the locker room.” What was nothing but (in my opinion) a harmless quote to illustrate the Heat’s desire to win soon turned into a story in which the media could use to further hate on the heavily scrutinized team.

A couple of commentaries and reactions from the media:

Michael Wallace of

Chris Sheridan of

Mike and Mike in the Morning, a show on ESPN Radio

And from people around the NBA:

Phil Jackson, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers

Stan van Gundy, head coach of the Orlando Magic

Now I want to give my opinion on the matter.  As I said earlier, I believe Spoelstra’s quote was harmless; he later went on to say that that “this is a classic case of sensationalism, looking for a headline” which I whole-heartedly agree with.  What’s wrong with crying?  Andy Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles’s Land O’ Lakers Blog said that he understands “frustration sometimes boils over” and as humans “emotion [can] win out.”  Kevin Arnovitz of also believes Spoelstra did no wrong by disclosing that some of his players were crying.  In his article, Arnovitz also cites David Thorpe’s (an NBA analyst for’s Scouts Inc.) reaction to “CryGate.”  Thorpe, like Kamenetzky, also understands that frustration and pain can make you cry, especially after spending hours and hours training and practicing.  He goes on to say that “crying is a natural human reaction to pain” and that he, like Arnovitz has no problem with Spoelstra’s comments.  In his words: “I’m all for honesty, transparency and not treating players as if they’re machines. He’s not saying anything negative about a player if he says that he’s crying.”  Crying is not a sign of weakness; I hate the belief that guys are not allowed to cry.  Anyone who thinks that crying is bad still is “still in middle school or high school in terms of their mentality” (borrowed from Thorpe); that means you Phil Jackson.

I can tell you from experience how crushing and demoralizing it can feel to lose.  As a member of my high school wrestling team (and four year varsity starter), there were a few moments where I cried.  I put hours and hours into my training (EVERY day in the offseason I ran, lifted weights, and practiced my moves) and losing tight or big matches killed me on the inside.  Doug Gottlieb, an analyst for college basketball, said in the Mike and Mike snippet linked above had a similar sentiment.  I remember in my junior year I lost to an opponent from Auburn High school 6-5 in the waning seconds.  I cried.  That same year I lost in the consolation semis of our sectional tournament 6-4.  I cried.  In my senior year, I got knocked out of my school’s tournament.  I cried.  Later that year, I lost a match to an opponent from Russel County High School 4-3.  I cried.  The point is losing hurts.  I’d rather hear that the Heat are showing emotion rather than just writing off losses like it doesn’t matter (kind of like the Lakers earlier in the year).  Mike Greenberg of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Chris Sheridan believe crying about an unimportant game in March is stupid.  Tell me, how was this game NOT important.  It’s against a fellow contender.  It was a preview of a possible playoff matchup.  And the Bulls before the game were 3-0 against the Heat.  How is that not a big game?  Now I will be disturbed if crying becomes a common occurrence in the Heat locker room; even I didn’t cry after every tight match.  Kamenetzky agrees.  If they’re crying regularly I’m going to wonder if they have what it takes to win a title.

The Heat are an easy team to hate, and no doubt this story will give the haters plenty to snicker about.  However, crying is simply no big deal.  Now if there’s one thing I can agree with all the haters on is what Stan van Gundy said.  The Heat should be the last one’s complaining about the scrutiny they are receiving.  They shouldn’t have had all that fanfare before the season, celebrating as if they just won a championship.  But to act as if crying is a sin, a direct violation of the “man code” is archaic and childish.  Until next time people…

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