Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Sure, maybe Mike D'Antoni is the NBA's mustachioed J. Mascis. But just because he feels the pain of the Miami Heat, that doesn't mean the rest of the New York Knicks do, and it sure doesn't sound like the team's two signature stars share his sympathy.

According to Chris Sheridan at ESPN New York, after the Knicks scored a 92-79 road win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday evening, Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Carmelo Anthony(notes) had a few snickers at the expense of the members of the Heat who reportedly cried following their loss to the Chicago Bulls earlier in the day:

When the locker room first opened to reporters after the game, Stoudemire and Anthony were bantering and laughing about players on the Miami Heat crying after their loss earlier Sunday to the Chicago Bulls, with Stoudemire fingering Chris Bosh(notes) as the watery-eyed one (although Bosh, when asked by reporters in Miami whether he had cried, said he almost had but did not).

"I heard Chris Bosh was crying tears," Stoudemire said.

"Tears?" Anthony asked.

"Yeah, tears," Stoudemire replied.

"Wait 'til I call him, man," Anthony said. "I'll be like: 'What are you doing?'"

Real nice, guys. Making fun of guys feeling blue and kicking a man when he's down. Sounds like the only "CP3" you two need to link up with is "tripling your compassion." I'm also baffled by the pair's incredulity at Bosh allegedly "crying tears." Those seem like a pretty reasonable thing to cry; it's not as they'd just heard he was crying olive oil or meat sauce. But boy, what odd, delicious sorrow that would be!

The Heat are getting crushed for this, of course, because many people view crying as a sign of instability and weakness, a failure of masculinity — something done by little kids and women, not by tough, physical, grown men. Not just players like Stoudemire and Anthony, but many fans, writers and league observers, too. Every man cries at some point in his life, but not everybody's cool with that fact, so when stuff like this happens at what's judged to be an inappopriate time for waterworks — say, "after losing a regular-season game," as opposed to "after learning that a beloved teammate had been traded," as recently took place with the Boston Celtics (we didn't hear a ton of cracks about that, did we?) — we tend to return to the schoolyard.

The effects of machismo bleed into virtually every element of pro sports, from designating certain players as "alpha dogs" to in-game decision-making, an idea TrueHoop's Henry Abbott dissected at this past weekend's 2011 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Sure, people are making fun of this because it pokes holes in the "superteam" mythos that LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Bosh and the rest so willingly cultivated and because the lion's share of NBA fans seems to want to see Miami crash and burn. But just as much, they're laughing because they think the act of a dude crying is weak, wimpy, soft or whatever other more expletive-laden phrase you'd like.

It's dumb, it's reductionist and it's not cool, but it's what's happening, and it's going to keep happening until either they get back to winning games or the entire culture of male sports fandom completely changes. I tend to think that the former's more likely, but man, wouldn't it be neat if the latter happened, too?

Hat-tip to Zach Lowe of SI.com's The Point Forward.

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