The Antagonist

Credits: Unsplash / Callum Skelton

Have you ever encountered an antagonist? I’m not talking about a storyline or drama-type antagonist. I’m talking about the one who is passive-aggressive, subtly malicious, unkind, intentionally does things to hurt you, and pretends that it was done unintentionally, in error, without bias, or were just trying to help you.

Who’s The Antagonist?

The Antagonist knows you well, knows your likes and dislikes, has studied you intensely, knows your weakest points, and know what to do not only to stir, but exploit, your emotions.

The Antagonist can be a close friend, family member, colleague, business associate, neighbor, or a sports teammate.

Most antagonists are charismatic, sociable, and have lots of friends. These character traits, which are great traits to possess, only serve as a cover-up for the antagonist’s true personality.

The Antagonist’s true self is one who seeks the attention and love of everyone and woe to the one who does not join in their attention-seeking group.

The antagonist goes after those who resist their attention with the goal to stir their emotions such that when those react, the aggressor looks like the pacifier.

Lakers and Pistons brawl

Such was my reaction regarding Sunday’s Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons’ game-turned-brawl that got LeBron James (LBJ) and Isaiah Stewart (IS)’s subsequent NBA decision of game suspension without pay. The incident occurred during the third quarter and was all over the media. You probably already heard or watched it. If you didn’t, google Lakers and Pistons fight.

The outcome was that NBA suspended LBJ for one game, but IS was suspended for two games, both without pay.

It’s unfortunate that IS got the heftier penalties, whereas LBJ, who in my opinion was the initiator, got a lighter penalty.

Sir Isaac Newton once said that “for every action, there is an equal or greater reaction.” Though Newton’s statement refers to the law of motion, the same statement is applicable in this instance. LeBron’s action, unintentional or not, including his response afterwards necessitated Isaiah’s furious actions. Granted that IS should have restrained himself when the officials stepped in to the court, but seeing and tasting your own blood threw commonsense outta the window for him.

What happened?

On this unfortunate Sunday, the incident happened during the third quarter. A younger team (Pistons) with one of the worst records of the season (4-11) was leading the game by two-digit points. It was also the second game day back for LBJ, having been out with injury and missed eight previous games. To have Pistons leading the game was an embarrassing moment, to say the least, for LBJ and the Lakers.

At the point of a free throw, LBJ elbowed IS by the brow causing blood to ooze down the right-side of his face. As would be expected, IS walked to LBJ, in my opinion, in an attempt to “verify” if it was an accident or an intentional act. Whatever response LBJ gave certainly compounded an already charged IS and thus infuriated him the more. He was furious and attempted retaliatory attacks before he was finally restrained. He was also seen running to the “tunnel” in an attempt portrayed by the media as going to the Lakers’ locker room and for LBJ.

For the record, the Pistons have been known to be a combative team. Which didn’t help a lighter NBA decision-making either.

My take is that if the initial act hadn’t been committed by “the antagonist,” the ensuing incidents wouldn’t have occurred. LBJ’s response, in my opinion, added fuel onto IS’s troubled waters.

One team player commented that LBJ is not a dirty player having been ejected only once (during the Cavs and Heat’s 2017 game) in his 19-year career. Sunday’s was his second ejection. The fact is that LBJ is not a saint either on the court, nor does he play a-100% clean game 100% of the time. He’s sly and being a veteran of the game, he knows how to tweak without breaking the NBA rules. I’ve watched him done several on-court unkind acts, both intentional and unintentional, over the years. To his credit, most of those acts were overlooked by the referees. LBJ would be a saint when compared to some players such as Draymond Green of Golden State Warriors (to his credit, he’s a changed man now), Rus Westbrook now of LA Lakers, Demarcus Cousins (now a free agent, Patrick Beverley now of Minnesota Timberwolves, etc., who are notorious for intentional vile acts and who would easily warrant a foul or technical for the slightest acts.

I do not advocate violence nor retaliatory acts. But I am fed up with antagonistic folks who act like the innocent after their intentional harmful deeds hence the need to speak up and call the act out for what it is. The NBA ruling also sends a strong message against such actions.

Do incidents occur when playing games? Sure they do. Both intentional and unintentional. Most intentional acts go undetected by the referees. But none should have to draw blood out of another. IS got five stitches for the brow bust. The more reason I feel that LBJ got away too easy.

Know how to handle them

Antagonists are everywhere. You might not understand my post if you’ve never experienced one. I had. At the time, I didn’t know how to handle antagonistic acts and people. After making outburst reactions, I learned to dissociate myself from such people.

I also recently had an experience at an Asian grocery store I occasionally visit. I bought fresh fish, shrimps, and a bag of local foods. On my way out, I realized that I had couple more errands to run before heading home. So I turned back to ask for a bag of ice to help preserve the seafood. I took out the other item from my grocery bag to make room for the ice. As I was about to grab a plastic bag near the exit of the store, to go get the ice, one of the staff (an Asian lady) chased me down. She ran all the way from the back of the store, was so loud speaking in chinese, pointing at me and the item in my hand. Since I didn’t understand, I ignored her and went straight to the store’s freezer room for the ice. The lady was still talking to her other store staff when I returned. So I asked what her uproar was. When I realized that she was actually accusing me of not paying for the item in my hand, I got upset. Now it was my turn to cause an uproar. I demanded an apology. The lady instantaneously shifted gear and said “me help you …”. She stated that she was trying to help me. Which was untrue. The lady ran from the back of the store to the front to accuse me and tried to cover up her act when she was told that I had paid.

My recent experience is nothing compared to LBJ-IS’s, but the outcome of turning the vile act to one of help-apology is similar.

If you have antagonists in your sphere of life, the best reaction is to ignore them. Their goal is to have the incident escalate from your reaction, while they keep silent and feign ignorance of why you’re reacting as such thus portraying you as the aggressor.

Another way to deal with antagonists is to be assertive. As in my recent instance, I requested an apology which was given. I am of the opinion that LBJ ought to apologize publicly to IS to portray the true NBA sportsmanship and face. Being proactive is also helpful and be prepared to walk away to avoid the situation getting out of hand. I wished IS had walked away.

Taking the above measures will help to know how to tame the antagonist.

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