Why Aren’t You Watching The World Cup?

So the reason you’re not watching the 2018 World Cup is what again, exactly? This is the WORLD CUP! It only comes around once every four years. So what’s the problem?

Ok, ok, ok, so let’s fess up. I’ll stop being so hard on you because I’m not watching the World Cup either. Why am I not watching the 2018 World Cup? Here’s my list of excuses:

Number One: To my horror, I found out that the US Men aren’t in it. They’re not? Nope. (Please excuse me while I argue with myself). I mean, I was about to turn on a game (I mean match) and I went to my ESPN App to see when the good ole US of A was playing, and I said to myself or to the App, I’m not sure which, “Where’s the USA?” But low and behold, the US isn’t playing. They’re not. Here’s how one sports reporter put it:

“With the World Cup about to kick off, a lot of Americans are about to commence the quadrennial tradition of following international soccer. However, once you start paying attention to the coverage (or maybe you already have if you’re not a casual fan), you may notice something off. No one is talking about the United States. The reason is simple, so don’t overthink it: The United States didn’t qualify for the World Cup in Russia this year.”

Whaaaat? Seriously?

“So how did this happen after the United States made it to the round of 16 in 2014? What happened in four years that caused the United States to fail to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986? Thirty-two teams qualify, so just what the blank happened?”

I kept reading the article and my head got foggy. So no USA men’s team this time around.

Number Two: We just got finished with the NBA Finals and the Washington Capitals historic Stanley Cup Championship win. So I’m exhausted and need a sports break.

Number Three: I don’t know who to route for. I mean, I’m not touting for the home team, right? So who else is there to cheer for, Nigeria? No offense, but I saw that their fans were banned from bringing live chickens to their games? Seriously?

Oh well. Let’s watch. Let’s watch the USA-less World Cup. Let’s just tune in for the love of the game.

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Philly Fans To LeBron: “Don’t Come To Philly”

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Philly fans would rather see LeBron James wear a LA Lakers uniform in the Fall of 2018

What makes anybody think that LeBron James should come to Philly? I mean, why does everybody think that the Sixers need, much less want LeBron James? I mean, do they think we’re desperate or something? Sheesh! Philly doesn’t want LeBron because we don’t NEED LeBron. We don’t. Period. And here’s why:

Number one: LeBron is all about LeBron. Don’t get me wrong; he’s the best player on the planet right now. But if LeBron comes to Philly, the team will be all about him, and to me, that would create a chemical imbalance on the team, and winning is all about creating just the right chemistry.  

Number Two: The Sixers can do just fine without King Janes. We have a few promising princes of our own in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons that are doing just fine. Embiid and Simmons are stars in their own galaxy; introducing the wrong supernova into their orbit might not be such a good idea.

Number Three: The Sixers may have to give up too much to get him, and then how long is going to stay? Championships are NOT, repeat NOT, guaranteed to All Stars who switch teams or to teams with the highest payrolls. Just ask LeBron himself. While he’s won three NBA titles, he’s also lost six, and he’s learned how to lose in the NBA Finals the hard way (Note to LeBron: you still want to defend JR Smith?).

Number Four:  LeBron wants to land in the right “situation.” Well then, go to LA. LeBron should just go on to the Southland where there are plenty of opportunities to diversify his professional portfolio. I’m not knocking my hometown, but Philly is NOT LA. Not hardly.

And Number Five:  I don’t want it to be said that the Sixers “needed” LeBron to win another NBA Championship. We can win it on our own merits and with our own mettle and using our own muster. We can. So let LeBron go to another club where he can take the credit for winning and help them out as they try to win a title.  

Spiritually speaking, sometimes we want to help God out. He can jiggle us out of jams and pick us out pickles with little or no effort. Just ask Moses and the Children of Israel about that whole Red Sea thing. We just need to trust Him and stop trying to help Him. Becasue when God promised Abraham a child in his old age, he consented with Sarah to “help God out” by throwing Hagar into the mix. Bad idea.  Bad, bad, bad idea.

Miriam and Moses and Esther and Elijah give us examples and teach us to have patience and to have faith in the process. And that’s what the Sixers should do. Trust the Process! And LeBron is not a part of Philly’s process.

In other words, Philly fans want to say to LeBron “We got this!”

From Repeat to Three-peat? Who is Going to Stop the Golden State Warriors?

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 Houston said they would. They had Chris Paul teamed with James Harden, and they were up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals. Then Chris Paul went down with a hamstring injury, and he DNPed in Games 6 and 7. No matter, the Rockets couldn’t hit the side of a barn, and missed twenty-seven three pointers in a row in the Game 7 loss at home.

LeBron said he could. King James once again carried a team of nobodies and no accounts to the NBA Finals only to find out once again that you can’t beat the Warriors without balanced scoring and more than a little luck on your side. What’s that? We don’t believe in luck? Well then it must have been Providence, right?

The Cavaliers were leading the Warriors in Game 1 ON THE ROAD at the Oracle in Oakland when a charge call was reversed and LeBron was called for a block. Durant hit both free throws and gave Golden State back the lead. But don’t blame the loss on the referees. The Cavs had a chance to win in regulation when JR Smith inexplicably dribbled out the final 4.7 seconds of the clock, forcing overtime. George Hill missed the free throw that would have given Cleveland the lead. But JR grabbed the offensive rebound and could have made a point blank layup to win the game. Say it aint so.  

So Houston couldn’t. And LeBron and the Cavaliers couldn’t.

Now the Golden State Warriors are, once again, the NBA champions after they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in a clean four-game sweep of the 2018 NBA Finals. The series was far closer than the series outcome would suggest, as the Cavaliers took Game 1 at Oracle Arena to overtime and led for much of Game 3 in Cleveland, but Golden State’s overwhelming talent behind Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was just too much for the Cavaliers to handle. This is the third championship in four years for the Warriors, and it leaves not only the Cavaliers, but the rest of the league with plenty of question marks.

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CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 6: Stephen Curry #30 and Draymond Green #23 yell and celebrate with Kevin Durant #35 after Durant scored 43 points in Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers  at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Warriors appear primed for a run of dominance that should span for at least another few years, potentially bringing their championship total into the range of Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers or Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. The rest of the NBA’s players will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening, and it all starts with LeBron James. His free agency will dictate who Golden State’s greatest rival is next season, and he likely has already formed his own ideas on how to beat this Warriors juggernaut. https://origin-assets.247sports.com/ContentGallery/Golden-State-Warriors-defeat-Cleveland-Cavaliers-to-win-NBA-championship-and-players-respond-on-Twitter-118908129So who’s going to stop Golden State? No one. They can only beat themselves. And no one can stop you when you make up your mind that you’re going to get the job done and you lean on Heaven for help.

Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Champions: Pain Is Part Of The Process

Ovechkin Lifting Stanley Cup Trophy
Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Champions as Ovechkin Lifts Stanley Cup Trophy

Pain is part of the process. The Washington Capitals players and fans and coaches and commentators have all endured much pain over their 44 year history. But after all of the pain and disdain, finally comes victorious gain. Finally, the Washington Capitals are kings of the hockey world.

The Washington Capitals defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win their first Stanley Cup Trophy. And the championship was a long time comin’. The Capitals had been stained with the loser label since 1974-75, when the expansion team won just eight games, still the NHL’s worst campaign. After 44 years, 3,701 regular and postseason games and 28 playoff appearances — the most by an NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL team at the time of its first title — the Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions. And pain was part of the process. https://sports.yahoo.com/stanley-cup-run-could-capitals-playoff-failures-055535489–nhl.html 

NHL teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have won 91 percent of the time (276-28). Of those 28, the Capitals have blown such a lead five times – FIVE TIMES – the most of any team. But there was no such falloff this time.   As checkered playoff histories go, the Washington Capitals haven’t been around nearly as long as some NHL teams, but their track record was still long and sad. For instance, the Caps have lost nine of 11 postseason meetings against the Pittsburgh Penguins alone, and each loss is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching letdowns.  Because pain is part of the process.

But this year, all of that turned around.

This year, the Caps defeated their longtime rival, those same Pittsburg Penguins, and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They rode a hot goalie to the Stanley Cup Finals, and their long time star, Alex Ovechkin, finally led his team to hockey’s Promised Land. Since Ovechkin’s arrival in 2004, drafted first overall, his presence eventually brought more regular season success, and with a young superstar core of him and center Nicklas Backstrom, a first championship felt inevitable. However, Ovechkin has admitted that he sometimes took it for granted that he would win a championship, perhaps taking for granted how hard it can be to win. And Ove learned that pain is part of the process.

Surprising no one, Ovechkin was named MVP of the playoffs, securing the Conn Smythe trophy. Ovechkin finished as the postseason’s leading goal-scorer with 15. Ovechkin, who had never made it out of the second round before this season, was all smiles as he made his way through the fourth and final happy handshake line of this incredible postseason run for the Capitals. 

So let’s learn the lesson. Pain must be part of the process. But our pain is not in vain. Because after a while, it leads to eternal gain, just like the Bible says.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

THE MESSAGE

 

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy,  for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.    TLB

 

And of course our beloved King James Version reads like this:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 

KJV

Are You A Warrior?

Kevin Durant is a Warrior. Since he came into the NBA and especially since he came to Oakland in the summer of 2016, Durant has proven that he has guts and grit, boldness and backbone. He’s as cool as the underside of a pillow and smooth like silk with ice water in his veins; and he’s not afraid to pull the trigger.

Kevin Durant is a warrior with grit. And the key word here is “grit.”  To grit ones teeth means to clench them together. In sports and in life, when you  clench your teeth, it means that you bear down but you don’t buckle under; you may bend but you don’t break; you bounce back from way back in order to come up big when the game is on the line and performance matters most.

Kevin Durant is a winning warrior. He’s a champion in the arena who is mentally tough and knows what it takes to win. A warrior is a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.  Once again, Kevin Durant did just that as he torched the Cleveland Cavaliers with 43 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in the NBA Finals, specifically Game 3, when Klay Thompson was cool and Steph Curry was cold. But when Golden State needed a leader and a scorer and a warrior, the Warriors turned to the former NBA MVP to save the day.

Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior. And he’s shown great vigor and valor when it was needed most. LeBron is also a warrior. This season, perhaps more than any other season, he’s had a herculean playoff run. But the ride is over. LeBron’s time in Cleveland is coming to a close, and some say his career may be winding down as well. And it’s another warrior that’s aggressively and unapologetically throwing down hammer and pinning LeBron to the mat.

And so the question is this: are you a warrior? Are you living with vigor and valor, carrying teammates on your back and scoring at will, doing all of the little things that it takes to win at the highest level? The lesson is literally laid out before us in plain sight: stop trying and start doing. After watching LeBron score 40 points a game nearly night in and night out just for something to do, and now seeing Kevin Durant slam the door on LeBron, it gives us gumption and gusto to live our lives like warriors.

Sooooooo, are you a warrior? Do you have the faith and the courage to take and make the big shot when your life is on the line? With the help of Heaven, you can.

 

SPORTS360 Podcast

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Hey Everybody! 

My book Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds is now available on Amazon.com!  Please check it out and let me know what you think.   If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. AND a dear friend featured me on his new, insightful and thought provoking Podcast, SPORTS360.  Jeff and I discuss the book, how we connect with God through sports, my Philly teams, and the intersection of sports and spirituality. Check it out on YouTube.com.

ALL CAPS!

 The Washington Capitals are leading 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Yes, the Washington Capitals! Not only did they make it to the Finals, but they are dominating the opposition, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. And I’m happy for them, and for all of Washington D.C., a town starving and chomping at the bit for a sports champion.

 So here’s to the Caps. It’s All CAPs all the time around the Capital Beltway these days. ALL CAPS means that the team and the fans are ultra and extra and frenzied and fanatical. And I’m happy for them. Yes I am. Because the Bible says that you should rejoice with those that rejoice. So, this time, since it’s been a long time a comin’ for this team that has tried and tried again and again to get to the top, let’s hope that they get there this time.

 

Go Caps!