Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert had a difficult Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. Despite putting up a respectable line of 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and eight rebounds, he failed to make a huge impact on the game and saw his team fall to the defending champions in a 99-76 rout. It was a disappointing end to a fantastic season for Hibbert and the Pacers.
It stands to reason that Hibbert was a little upset at the final buzzer. So, instead of sticking around to exchange handshakes and pleasantries with the Heat, Hibbert headed straight to the locker room. This was not a team-wide decision — several Pacers, including All-Star Paul George, put a bow on the series by talking to their opponents.
Your opinion of this action likely depends on what you consider a professional athlete's responsibilities to the public. It can be seen as a bad public relations move by Hibbert, especially after his unfortunate language following Indiana's Game 6 win. A stronger negative opinion would term it a sign of disrespect toward the triumphant Heat. A more positive take, such as this one from Hall of Fame journalist Peter Vecsey, says that Hibbert displayed respectable old-school tendencies in refusing to submit to the opposition even after the end of the series.
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Or it can just be a somewhat meaningless action of an upset person unable to deal with the disappointment of losing immediately after the final buzzer. Hibbert participated in his regular postgame news conference and appeared calm and thoughtful about how he can improve this offseason, so it's not as if he was so furious as to refuse all responsibilities. It's likely that he just didn't feel like facing the Heat right away. There's no rule that he can't congratulate the Heat 30 minutes after the game, or with text messages a day later, or in any other manner he chooses.
This supposed snub only matters if we allow ourselves to consider a public meeting after a game to be more important than the personal interactions of NBA athletes. When LeBron James left the court after the Cleveland Cavaliers' conference finals loss to the Orlando Magic in 2009, he was criticized for not doing his duty in congratulating Dwight Howard and Co. Yet it turned out that LeBron had contacted Howard soon after. These athletes have lives off the court, and we shouldn't act as if public expressions of personal relationships are the only interactions that count.
- Sports & Recreation
- Roy Hibbert
- Miami Heat
- Indiana Pacers