Gregg Popovich hugs LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after loss (Video)

Gregg Popovich Dwyane Wade hugGregg Popovich is one of the grumpiest coaches in the NBA. The guy gives reporters a difficult time, hardly shows positive emotion, and he definitely is never happy.

But that all changed after Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Even though his San Antonio Spurs fell to the Miami Heat 95-88, Pop had a big smile on his face and was as gracious as one could possibly imagine. He embraced Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade despite losing, and he stayed on the court in a pure show of class. It was one of the best displays of sportsmanship we have seen.

How can you not appreciate that? Like Spoelstra said after the game, the Spurs are a class organization, and Pop was first class Thursday night.

US volleyball players irked by Brazil’s gold medal celebration

Celebrations and proper sportsmanship have been an issue throughout the London Olympics.

The US women’s soccer team was called out by New Zealand for its celebratory methods, and the squad drew criticism after its win over Japan. Now it’s the US complaining about the celebration methods of another country.

The US women’s volleyball team blew a lead and lost the gold medal game to Brazil on Saturday. The favored Americans thumped Brazil 25-11 in the first set, but lost the next three sets 25-17, 25-20, and 25-17.

The Brazilian players were overcome with joy and some fell to the ground after winning. They jumped around in circles, cried, and exchanged the customary handshakes and kisses with the US players. But it didn’t take long for things to get out of hand.

After the team held hands in a circle of prayer, the players lined up and did several somersaults (pictured above), even rolling into the US players who were walking off Earl’s Court.

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the celebratory songs and clapping continued in the waiting area. The Brazilian players then danced their way back onto the court to receive their medals, though to be fair, they were playing to their legions of fans in attendance. But once they, the US, and Japanese players were all lined up for their medals, the Brazilians continued to dance.

In the image below, you can see the US and Japanese players standing straight while the Brazilian players (in yellow) gyrated in the middle:

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High school runner Meghan Vogel helps carry injured opponent across finish line (Video)

There was some outstanding sportsmanship displayed at the Ohio state track meet last Saturday.

Meghan Vogel, a junior at West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio, won the state’s Division III 1,600 meter race, but she gained more attention for a race in which she finished last.

Vogel was running the 3,200 meter race and about 50 meters from the finish line when she saw Arden McMath, a sophomore from Arlington High School, collapse. Instead of passing her, Vogel stopped to carry her competitor across the finish line.

Race rules say Vogel should have been automatically disqualified for helping another runner, but the Springfield News-Sun says meet management took no action. They gave McMath 14th place and a finishing time of 12:29.90, and Vogel 15th in 12:30.24. Vogel made sure McMath crossed the finish line first because she had been ahead of her.

“Helping her across the finish line was a lot more satisfying than winning the state championship,” Vogel told the News-Sun.

“What a selfless act,” said Arlington coach Paul Hunter. “She could have just gone around Arden. But she chose to help. I’ve never seen that at a state meet. That’s real sportsmanship.”

We’ve seen other outstanding acts of sportsmanship in track and cross country before, and this ranks right up there. It’s great to have a heartwarming story like this to balance out all the negative ones we see in high school athletics.

Well done Meghan, well done.

H/T Richard Deitsch

Tomas Berdych Hit by Nicolas Almagro Shot, Refuses to Shake Hands (Video)

Tomas Berdych won his fourth-round match against Nicolas Almagro in four sets at the Australian Open Sunday, but he lost the fans doing it. Late in the fourth set, Almagro charged the net to retrieve a drop volley from Berdych. With very few options because he was on the run, Almagro tried to whip a ball cross court. It ended up hitting Berdych in the arm. Almagro put his hand up to indicate he was sorry, and he tried to tell Berdych the shot was unintentional. Berdych wanted no part of the apology.

Almagro won the next game but Berdych won the tiebreak to take the match. The victorious Czech shook hands with the chair umpire but refused to shake Almagro’s hand. The crowd, which cheered him after the win, quickly changed to boos.

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Cross Country Runner Carries Injured Opponent a Half Mile for Treatment

Andover High School cross country runner Josh Ripley carried an opponent a half mile after noticing the other runner was injured. Ripley was competing in the Applejack Invite in Lakeville, Minn. when he heard screams coming from another runner. While everyone else ran past the wounded runner, Ripley stopped to assist him.

Turns out Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas was bleeding from his ankle after getting spiked. Ripley was worried that Paulauskas punctured his Achilles, so he carried the injured runner a half mile to his parents and coaches before rejoining the race. Paulauskas ended up being taken to the hospital where he received more than 20 stitches.

So why did Ripley stop to help Paulauskas when everyone else ran by him?

“I didn’t think about my race, I knew I needed to stop and help him,” Josh said. “It was something I would expect my other teammates to do. I’m nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Ripley may not think his actions were special, but they were. He’ll be honored by the school board on Monday for his excellent display of sportsmanship.

Chest bump to Off the Bench for the story