Who Really Won Big In The 2015 NBA Draft?

Okafor Drafed by Sixers

Who Really Won Big In The 2015 NBA Draft?

Well, if I’m from Philly, and I am, I’m loving our First Round Draft Pick.  Jahlil Okafor? Seriously? We got HIM? Right now, in Philly, they’re dancing in the streets. I mean the Mummers are marching down Market Street right now. And the Philly Faithful will note that the Mummers strut down Broad Street on New Year’s Day. So while this is a big deal, let’s not get carried away. Until we WIN another title.

So back to who won. And who won big. We did. Philly absolutely won. I mean, I would like D’Angelo Russell AND Okafor, but you can’t have it all. I mean, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. At least not every season. So we got the best player in the draft.  And to win big you have to draft big. Just ask every team who’s won a title.

So learn to pick well. Learn how to choose and to select and to decide on the best and nothing but the best. Because anything less than the best is really sin; it won’t get a grin, and it just won’t win.

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Go Sixers. And Congratulations Jahlil. Welcome to Philly.

UVA, Your Time Has Come

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Virginia is for lovers of baseball. College baseball.

Virginia doesn’t have a professional team of any kind in any sport to speak of. Yet we do have the University of Thomas Jefferson. And the University of Virginia Men’s Baseball team just won it all. And they won when one would wonder why and how. Why not last year? Why not the year before? And how in the world did they manage to win the College World Series with this team and with these freshman and without last year’s juggernaut of stars and standouts?

They weren’t even ranked. They barely made the postseason. And they weren’t supposed to be any good this year. After all, last year the Virginia Cavaliers were ranked No. 1 and were the favorites to win in all. This year they weren’t supposed to win at all. Last year they fell to Vanderbilt in the College World Series. This year they beat Vanderbilt in the College World Series (CWS). Because this year their time has come.
Six weeks ago, it looked as though Virginia might not even qualify for its conference tournament, let alone the NCAA Tournament. That was then. This is now.

And just look at the Cavaliers now.

They’re national champions for the first time in baseball after finishing a magnificent postseason run with a 4-2 victory over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.

“This team was a crazy ride this year,” said Coach Brian O’Connor, who was born in Omaha. “Certainly, we had a lot that went against us through the year, but this team found a way and got into the NCAA Tournament. It’s an amazing example of what you can do if you put your mind to it, play for each other and have each other’s backs.

“Not many people thought this could happen. I couldn’t have forecast it. But we’re darn glad we’re sitting up here with this trophy.” Freshman Pavin Smith homered and drove in three runs and Brandon Waddell turned in another strong College World Series pitching performance.

The Cavaliers (44-24) prevailed in the CWS finals rematch against the defending champion Commodores and won the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first title in baseball since Wake Forest in 1955. “We were just a team that never gives up,” Smith said. “We’re really resilient. And it showed in the first inning when we were down 2-0 and didn’t stop playing.” Wow.

I’ve NEVER watched the CWS. Never. But this year, a buddy at work told me that the Cavaliers had made it into the College World Series, excuse me, the CWS, and I said, “OK.” So for the rest of you that never even heard of the CWS, much less watched, it, I watched for you. I watched as Virginia came back from being down two runs and went on to win 4-2. With a FRESHMAN leading way! A FRESHMAN! I love it.

So, here’s more juice for your jug and fuel for your fire. If the Virginia Men’s Baseball team can come out of nowhere after years of futility and sterility and bareness and barrenness and athletic poverty and paucity and win it all, you (and I) can too.

Because our time has come. So until it manifests, let’s join Job and say, 

“All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”  Job 14:14, KJV

So It’s One, Two, Three “Likes” You’re Out (At the ‘Ole Ball Game)

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What have we come to? We certainly shouldn’t text and drive, and “hands free” should be a National Law. But now we have a baseball player “liking” during a major league ball game? “Liking” DURING the game? Really?

Apparently Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval fell victim or fell villain Wednesday during his team’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta. While the game was in progress, Sandoval returned to the team’s clubhouse and “liked” a photograph on Instagram. And the question is “Why, for Pete’s sake?”

What’s so urgent about responding to a Friend Request or a text or a post? But we’ve all done it: in a moment of down time, waiting for the train or between tasks at work, you pull out your cell phone and read e-mail, check Facebook, flip through Instagram, so habitually that it’s almost a reflex. It turns out that major league baseball players do it, too—but then they pay the price.

So what have we come to? Are we so addicted to our cell phones and our smart phones and our electronic devices that we can’t function without them? Not even while we are “working?” Apparently not. Social media has taken society by storm, and some can’t weather the winter winds or survive the summer sun without their handheld device in their hot little hand at almost all times.

Whatever happened to the days when we didn’t text a pic or share a vid or “insta” gram and we just talked to each other in person? How about that? I mean, don’t get me wrong; the advantages of the technological revolution far outweigh the disadvantages (I think), but why are we so wed to the “instancy” and immediacy of FACEBOOK and LinkedIn and YouTube and Instagram and the “Like?”

Anybody?

I get it. I do get it. We crave community and unity and bonding and togetherness. And all of that we can find in Christ. All of the stuff of life we crave can be found in the Lord.  All of our hearts desires and longings for family and fellowship can be found in the safety and solace of  the Spirit of the Living God.

But when it comes to the use of our phones at all times all of the time, that’s a mystery. Oh well. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Just don’t do it during the game you are playing in.

MVP! MVP! MVP!

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Andre Iguodala is the 2015 NBA Finals MVP. And he earned it. And he deserves it. Period. “Iggie,” as he is affectionately called, was a onetime Philadelphia 76er (Being from Philly, I had to get that in). Anyway, Iggie saved the series for the Warriors. The winner of the Bill Russell Award, whom Kerr inserted into the starting lineup for the final three games, was a force. Responsible for defending James at one end, Iguodala provided timely offense at the other.

The Most Valuable Player of the Finals wasn’t even a starter this season. No, the Bill Russell Award was handed to Golden State Warriors shooting guard Andre Iguodala, a steady veteran player who scored 25 points in Tuesday’s championship-clinching 105-97 win. His first start came in Game 4 of the Series, and his stops on defense and his points on offense turned the tide for the champs. “He saved this series for us,” Green said. No doubt, Curry would have liked to have received the MVP Award, but without Iguoldala’s energy and effort, the Warriors may not have made it to the top.

Down 2-1 in the series, Kerr wisely made the right adjustment and replaced a starter with his sixth man. And the gamble paid off. Kerr now looks like a basketball genius for coming up with the antidote for LeBron and the solution to success for his struggling team. Iguodala was the best defender the Warriors had and he slowed down the Cavs King James just enough to give his team the breath to breathe new life into the series. Iguodala was the key to the Game 4 win, and the rest, well, is history.

Coach Kerr said it always bothered him that people paid so much attention to his team’s gaudy numbers on offense. The Warriors also had the league’s top-ranked defense. No joke. And Iguodala is a big reason why. Basketball, and life, are about the balance of combinations. “When you get that combination (of the top rated defense and the top rated offense) then you’re going to be pretty good,” Kerr said. “Whether you’re shooting 2s or 3s, it’s about the balance.”

“It’s about the balance.” Sounds like sage words of advice for life.

And so the lesson here is to get the right balance; to get the right combinations in general, and the right combination of offense and defense in particular. Humility is a weapon that can be used on offence and defense. So use it wisely, as did Iguodala, who was a lifetime starter, and yet he sacrificed his wants and wishes for the team and came off of the bench all season. And for that he was called on to come on the big stage at just the right time. And his unassuming attitude resulted in his unpretentious gratitude for an MVP Trophy well deserved.

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Congratulations Iggie. Your example is helping us to learn the lesson.

The Coronation of King Curry

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Wardell Stephen “Steph” Curry II is now King of the Basketball World. He’s eaten his Wheaties so his spice and his dice are so nice they’re without vice. He has a boyish frame but a manly game and he has led his Warriors to the brink of an NBA crown. The 2015 NBA Most Valuable Player and a two-time NBA All-Star, Curry is considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history. And that’s high praise.

Up until now, LeBron “King” James has ruled the basketball world. He has won 2 out of the last four NBA Championships, and this is his 5th Finals appearance in 5 years. But it looks like the reigning ruler will have to share the scepter and pass it on to the up and coming kid king. And it’s not for lack of effort, either. It’s just that LeBron has tried and tried to carry his team on his back, but that’s a tall order, even for the best player in the world. It appears that no Love and no Irving will spell no championship for the outgoing king.

Curry is a likeable, laudable, brash “splash” brother who is handling the spotlight pretty well. And that is one of the reasons he’s so loveable. So what’s not to like? I like almost everything I know about him. He’s hard not to like. I like his game and his fame and his game face and his Under Armor shoes lace. His Dad is an NBA old hand and his family are cheering at hand at all of his NBA games. The girls think his “cute” and the guys are jealous of his repute.

But more importantly and more significantly, Curry is a Christian. And an outwardly open Christian at that.

Curry spoke about his faith during his MVP speech by saying, “People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that’s because of my Lord and savior.” He also said the reason that he pounds his chest and points up is that he has a “heart for God” and as a reminder that he plays for God. On some of his “Curry One” basketball shoes, there is a lace loop scripted “4:13″. It is a reference to the Bible verse Philippians 4:13.

So let’s pound our chests and point up to Heaven for Him, and for the prince who has since become a duke who is no fluke.

All hail, King Curry.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13, New Living Translation

Talk Is Cheap But You Still Need To Win The War of Words

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So who really wants to win the war of words? Who really wants to win when chips are down and game, and the championship for that matter, is on the line? You can talk the talk; just make sure you walk the walk.

Both the Cavaliers and the Warriors have an equal chance at winning the 2015 NBA Championship. The series is tied at two wins apiece, and Game 5 is the rubber match either could win. Both have played well and played poorly. Both have All-Star MVPs who can carry their team. And Both have something to prove.

The Apostle Peter said that people who are full of themselves talk more than they do. “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity . . . they live in error” (2 Peter 2:18). Amen to that. Those that talk but don’t do are like “springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For (they) speak out arrogant words of vanity.” (NLT)

So support what you say. Validate your voice and certify your cry. Specify your speech and tally what you tell. Because what you say can and will be used against you. Yes sticks and stones may break our bones, but words do indeed hurt us. And they also help us.

So what are you willing to do to win the war? What are you willing to wage to unbalance the score? Hopefully more than talk. Hopefully much more than chitchat and chatter and a loud mouth and a lot of mutter. It’s going to take putting your money where your mouth is.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry are the best of the best. And thankfully, both do more “walkin’” than they do talkin’ . LeBron had yet another triple double in Game 5 but it just wasn’t enough. And Curry was vintage Curry as he carried his team in the 4th Quarter and hit home run, touchdown, three-point shoots when it mattered most.

And so Stephen Curry seems to have the upper hand. And he seems to have had the last say. At least for now. Game 5 is in the books; and even though Game 6 is in Cleveland its Curry’s for the taking. So we’ll see. And let’s hope that Curry is a Warrior who wins the war, and the championship, with his hands and feet and not just with his mouth. So it’s time for James and Curry to put up or shut up.

And that goes for you too.

“Delly!” From Guts to Glory: It’s Not If You Win, It’s How You Win

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Winning is the decisive and definitive goal in sports. And winning “It All,” aka, winning the championship, is at the top of the list of things to do for all athletes everywhere. But I submit that it’s not just if you win, it’s how you win. And LeBron James and his new sidekick, Matthew Dellavedova, are showing the sports world how to win.

Before Sunday night, the narrative for the NBA Finals was essentially that the Cavs didn’t stand a chance against Stephen Curry and Co. with Irving sidelined for the rest of the series. Yet after LeBron James let out an emphatic roar following the “emotional win,” you get a much different feeling. There’s reason to believe the script has been flipped. 

Fueled by a gritty defensive performance from backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, Cleveland’s beloved “Delly,” the Cavs showed resolve and willpower that the Warriors were lacking. And that’s how you win. To get the glory you’ve got to have, and spill, some guts. Winning takes courage and vigor and valor and that’s what the Cavs have, especially in the person of the fill in point guard, Matthew Dellavedova, who almost got cut from the team early in the season.

“I doubt this will happen again,” Curry said after the loss and an uncharacteristically ugly performance — 5-for-23 from the field, 2-for-15 from three-point range and 0-for-8 against Delly. It’d be too easy to label it a bad shooting night for the league’s MVP. But you’ve also got to give Delly his due.

Dellavedova has played lights-out defense on Curry and you have to wonder how much of it is Curry not shooting well or Delly “doing the do” on the MVP of the League, a shooting Don. And because of Delly, an unsung, come out of nowhere hero, the Cavs are going into Game 4 in Cleveland with serious momentum.

Can the Cavs win the NBA title without Kyrie Irving, their All-Star PG? You betcha. LeBron scored 44 points in Game 1 and had a triple-double (39 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists) to will Cleveland to victory in Game 2. Does James need to play at this level for his team to win two more games? Yes. But he’s been playing the alpha dog (increased shots) role all playoffs, as Irving was far from 100% and Kevin Love got sidelined.  Now there is no Big Three. This is James and a band of brothers that anywhere else would be a motley crew of castaways; rugged, rustic, role players at best – and not an all-star in the lot of ‘em.

But there’s something about this group — their grit and fire — that championship teams must have. How many times have we seen the more talented team get beat by the hungrier, more determined one? Plenty.

Maybe it’s the playing-with-nothing-to-lose aggressiveness or odds-against-us approach that re-instilled a fiery engine in the Cavs’ psyche. Maybe Irving’s gutsy Game 1 performance and subsequent injury provided necessary inspiration a la “Remember the Titans” sans Gerry Bertier.

And so clearly, the lesson is this: are you playing pretty and sassy and cute and cheeky or are you playing forceful and feisty? Jesus did. Yes He did. Jesus lived like everything was on the line. What our Lord did for us on Calvary was not pretty at all. It was all guts, and it led to His glory.

So, are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win? And are you mad enough to win? http: //godandsports.net/?s=Mad+enough+to+win Are you gutsy enough when it matters most? To get it done, sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and play like, and live like, everything is on the line. 

Because it is.