Kansas Jayhawks Elijah Johnson went off on Monday night and if it hadn’t been for him, the Jayhawks would have assuredly lost to the Iowa State Cyclones. Coming in and scoring 39 points, Johnson was an unstoppable force throughout the game. However, the Jayhawks found themselves down 5 points with just 32 seconds left in the game. Perseverance by the Jayhawks (i.e. nasty 3 pointers) brought the team back to tie it up just before the end of regulation. Overtime proved to be too much for the Cyclones as Kansas won by 12, 108-96.
But a lot of people, including Kansas coach Bill Self and Johnson himself, think they should have won by 10.
Sportsmanship is often a hot topic in sports. Do you kneel the ball on the goal line as time expires or do you punch it in to add insult to injury? Do you dribble the ball around and let time expire or do you drive down the open lane for a powerful dunk? Unfortunately for Elijah Johnson, he chose to dunk. Personally, when one of my teams is on the losing end of a game and something like this happens, it really only bothers me for about 10 seconds. Then I get back to being pissed off about losing the game. The fans in Iowa didn’t feel the same way as they hurled boos and debris at the Kansas stud.
All of that is pretty standard practice when a scenario like that presents itself. What happened next, though, is an anomaly.
In the post game interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe, Bill Self was your run of the mill coach and talked about how Johnson was unbelievable and helped the team win the tough overtime game. The interview took an interesting turn when Holly was talking to Johnson. She asked him a series of questions about the game and how he prepared but ended with asking him what the coach had whispered in his ear privately after the game. Rowe was probably thinking it was a congratulations of sorts but in fact it was a lesson in humility.
I gotta show better sportsmanship, I shouldn’t have dunked that ball at the end of the game. I wasn’t really thinking clearly. I saw an open basket and all day I had been driving, so I figured why not drive if it’s wide open? But I definitely should have dribbled it out.
If you watch the video and listen to Johnson speak about it, he sounds sincere. He didn’t give me the vibe that he was just saying that to make his coach happy. He genuinely seemed sorry for showing up the Iowa State team that almost knocked them off. Savor the flavor folks, because it’s not every day that we see these athletes do something stupid, realize their mistake and immediately apologize.