Behavioral experts analyze LeBron James videos

Thu, Dec 2

Sometimes a shoulder bump is just a shoulder bump. Unless it involves LeBron James, in which case bumping shoulders with Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra indicates that: (A) the Heat are in utter disarray; (B) Spoelstra will soon be spending time with his family; (C) James embodies everything that is wrong with the modern American athlete, and quite possibly our doomed common humanity; (D) nothing more than two guys unable to get out of each other's way.

Go ahead. Take your pick.

By now, you've seen the bump heard 'round the world. And perhaps you've viewed previous footage of James bumping former Cleveland Cavs coach Mike Brown, tossing his warm-ups at a ball boy and smacking a water bottle into the stands, too.

What do the videos mean? For insight, Page 2 reached out to a group of experts:

1. What does the James-Spoelstra bump say about the state of their relationship?

Leslie Saunders, a management consultant who specializes in workplace relationships and organizational performance: Considering the fact that it's a new relationship that has already been rumored to be tense, it probably isn't the equivalent of a jovial fist bump. It appeared to be a belligerent move that says, "I make more money than you, you're in my way and I'm not in the mood to walk around you."

Steve Siebold, former professional tennis player and mental toughness coach: World-class athletes operate with extraordinary intensity. This may have been unintentional.

Sharon Chirban, a sports psychologist and Harvard Medical School instructor: I can't say what the state of the relationship is -- however, it will be challenged by public denigration of the coach.

2. What does the bump portend for the future of the James-Spoelstra relationship?

Saunders: It's going to get rockier than it already is, and there will be less-public conflicts that we will only hear of via the rumor mill -- unless either James or Spoelstra has other public run-ins. No pun intended. This type of behavior usually leads to workplace conflict -- causing communication and cooperation shutdowns. If not checked, managers and supporting group members eventually allow or even help the superstar to fail.

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