A Young Lad Goes From Bad To Sad: The Markelle Fultz Story

Markelle-Fultz
Markelle Fultz’s Future in Philly is Fairly Debatable

It’s not just bad — now it’s turned so, so sad for this young lad. The Markelle Fultz story in Philly has quickly gone wrong in a hurry. It’s not just bad, it’s really, really sad. It really is. First let’s talk about the bad.

It seemed like a good thing that Markelle Fultz was the No. One overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Philadelphia 76ers picked him because of his explosiveness, his ability to drive to the hoop, and most importantly, his ability to shoot the ball. But all that’s gone. Game over. This kid’s game is kaput, out the door and over and done with, or so it seems.

No one seems to be able to put their finger on it, but the thing we can point to is that this kid can’t shoot, he’s scared to drive, and his verve and his nerve have evaporated into thin air. AND, if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s lost his confidence. You can see it in his eyes.  Fultz has lost his sureness and his certainty and his assertiveness. In other words, Fultz has lost his faith.  And his loss of faith leads us to the sad part.

Markelle Fultz looked so good on paper as far as potential for the NBA was concerned.  He’s so young, but so gifted, that it doesn’t seem possible that he would be struggling like he is. In college Fultz was “a player who jumped off the page athletically and possessed creative scoring instincts and playmaking skills. Everyone everywhere held that Fultz would be the consensus among sports analysts to be the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.”  But that was then, and this is now.

Now, “Markelle Fultz and the Philadelphia 76ers could be headed into an inevitable divorce after rumors circulated that the former No. 1 overall pick is no longer considered part of “The Process.” Fultz has been a huge disappointment since the 2018-19 NBA season started, and as of now, he remains on the sideline, dealing with shoulder and wrist injuries.” (Bleacher Report)

So what’s the lesson to be learned here? How can Fultz regain his faith and overcome his fears?  The same way you and I can: go back to what works.  Stop listening to the “experts” and the pundits and listen to the voice you hear from above that speaks to your inner man.

Fultz can get back and come back if he listens to what God says, and not what man says. And that’s what we need to do too.  God says that we are more than a conqueror through Him that loved us. God says that it’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit. God says that I’m the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. God says that the enemy is under my feet, and that I’m healed by the wounds in his side. God says that one can chase a thousand, and two can put then thousand to flight.  God says that we are to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life!

So let’s say what God says.

 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

 Philippians 4:13  KJV

 

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.

 2 Corinthians 3:4-6,  New Living Translation

Advertisements

Kareem Hunt and the National Football League: What’s Up With the NFL? – Fall 2018 Edition

Kareem Hunt
Kareem Hunt is cut by the Kansas CIty Chiefs after a video is released of him shoving and kicking a woman in a February dispute

Mike McCarthy just got fired, Kareem Hunt was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Bears lost to the Giants. Go figure.   

First, who would have thought that the Green Bay Packers would fire their beloved coach MIDSEASON? And who would have guessed that the Chiefs’ darling (now former) running back would be ditched for a February incident in which he shoved and kicked a woman, a video of which just so happened to surface on Friday?  And why didn’t the NFL interview Kareem Hunt or the woman he shoved and kicked when the league investigated the February assault? Incredible. Hunt now says he was “in the wrong”. How genuine of him, months after the incident and months after he misled the team and the NFL about what really happened. It’s yet another black eye for the NFL and yet another domestic violence incident that the NFL failed to handle correctly.  

And in actual games that were actually played on the field, the Giants beat the first place Bears in overtime.  Explain that one, pray tell?

It just goes to show, anything is possible. The good can go bad, and the very bad can actually turn out to be pretty good. Go figure. And to top it all off, my Eagles have a chance to move up in the world if they beat the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.

Failures are not final, and victories are not forever sustainable. So never say never. And don’t count me out. And don’t count your chickens before they hatch. McCarthy was a fixture in Green Bay, and he’s out. Kareem Hunt was the engine that drove the Chiefs, and he’s out, and the Giants have had the worse season imaginable, and they don’t look like they’re out (even though they are), and my Super Bowl Champion Eagles have played under par all season; yet and still, mathematically they’re not  out yet.  I said yet. 

And that’s the NFL, and that’s life. There’s always hope.  Yet things could go south or sideways in a hurry if you don’t do the right thing.    So do the right thing, even when you have a losing record or you don’t seem to have a snowballs chance in you know what to get out of the mess you’re in.  

Because doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

Carmelo Anthony

carmelo-anthony-iso
Carmelo Anthony’s tumultuous NBA career may soon be over, after grinding to a halt in Houston

Carmelo Anthony’s tumultuous, up and down, all around NBA career may soon be over, after grinding to a halt in Houston.

It’s all so sad. And like him or not, you’ve got to feel so bad, because it just makes you mad. How can a perennial All-Star become a journey-man, bench warmer who can’t keep a job? He has skills and ability and a decent basketball IQ, but somehow, all of his talent has not totaled into a tenure that we all can look back on and say with any confidence that it was a good run. Denver may be as close as Melo got to a good situation. His time with the New York Knicks was a slow burn/meltdown of a disaster, and the OKC experiment failed miserably. Now we have this mess in Houston. 

What can we learn from Melo’s latest malaise and his history of malfunctions? Sometimes you need to look yourself in the mirror. The truth hurts, but you can indeed learn from it if you are willing to admit and own up to your part of it. 

Here’s how Sporting News put it:

“Fifteen years after coming into the league, the sad truth is that we may be seeing Anthony’s final days in the National Basketball Association. Carmelo’s had knee surgery and he’s 34 years old, but neither age nor injury have caused his career to hit the rocks, a reality that came into sharp focus this weekend. Just 10 games into his career as a bench player with the Rockets, Anthony was held out of back-to-back games in order to discuss his role with the team. 

That’s been translated to mean that Anthony soon will be cut by Houston, which has struggled to a 6-7 record after finishing last year with a league-best 65 wins. GM Daryl Morey labeled that speculation “unfair,” but Anthony remains away from the team. He has not been great for the Rockets, averaging 13.4 points in 29.4 minutes per game on 40.5 percent shooting and 32.8 percent 3-point shooting.

Even if he did get a new deal to finish this season elsewhere, glumness looms over this stage of Anthony’s career. He is a Hall of Famer just playing out the string. When next spring hits, Anthony probably will be wrapping up his time in the NBA, and he won’t be doing so on his own terms. A job with any of the league’s 30 teams will be hard to find, and Anthony’s best chance at a continued pro paycheck will be on foreign shores, possibly China.”

http://www.sportingnews.com/us/nba/news/carmelo-anthony-lost-in-new-nba-must-confront-harsh-truth-about-his-future/15vd9c3j9msv01qxf2ajv9zmxm

The 76’ers Are Now The New “Beast in the East” — a.k.a., Who Wants To Bet That The Sixer’s Win The East?

Butler Game Winning Three Pointer
Jimmy Butler hits the game winner on the road in OT against the Charlotte Hornets, November 17, 2018

Here’s a note for Philadelphia 76er’s fans everywhere:  “Have no fear, Jimmy Butler is here!”  Not the question is this: with Butler, will the Sixers win the East? After what I saw last night, there’s no reason not to believe they can.  But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves;  let’s just start with Jimmy Butler and last night.

Did you see last night’s game? No? Don’t worry, I didn’t either. But I saw the highlights, and Jimmy “Bucket” Butler is as good as advertised.  Last night, in just his third game with his new team, Butler and the Philadelphia 76er’s defeated the Charlotte Hornets 122-119, in OT. hopefully, it is a healthy harbinger of what is to come with Butler and Embiid and Simmons playing together, who now make up the new “Beast in the East.”

Butler didn’t sink the potentially game winning basket at the end of regulation, but he did block Kemba Walker’s shot near the end of overtime. He also saved the ball from landing out-of-bounds, and THEN managed to sink the game winner from beyond the arc for a thrilling, last second, game winning three-point basket to the chagrin of everyone at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, but to the glee of every 76er’s fan anywhere.   

Despite a ridiculous game from Kemba Walker, Butler and the Sixers managed to pull another rabbit out of the hat.  Walker scorched the Sixers for a season high 60 points in one game, but he couldn’t seal the deal when it mattered most. Butler, on the other hand, had a mediocre game – he finished with 15 points — but he had the heroics when it mattered most and hammered the nail down on the coffin so that the Sixers put the Charlotte Hornets to bed for the third time this year. 

Once again, we see that a team can be impacted by just one player, for good or for ill.  Indeed, when it matters most, one man, or one woman, can make a difference.  And that’s the message:  you can make a difference. So stop saying that you’re only one person and that what you do doesn’t matter and that you’re small part doesn’t amount to much. Just stop it!  You can make a difference.

And what a difference Jimmy Butler is making. He’s glad to be in Philly, he genuinely enjoys playing with Embiid, Simmons, JJ and the gang, and he’s excited about what the future holds.  You just can’t put a dollar value on effort and hustle and guts. You just can’t.  And Butler brings all of that to the table, and some.

And so there you have it: after just three games, Jimmy Butler has proven that he’s worth his weight in gold as he has seamlessly sewn himself into the Philly fabric. Butler has made himself useful in more ways than one. Amen to that. 

And here’s to more to come.

Note to Eagles Fans: “There’s Always Last Year”

Carson Wentz-philadelphia-eagles-loss to-dallas-cowboys
Carson Wentz dejected after loss to Dallas at home drops Eagles to 4-5

 

The phrase is actually meant to read like this: “there’s always NEXT year.”  That’s what sports fans say when their team is lousy and lazy and dismal and dreadful. When the season is lost, the hope is that the team will be better and the future brighter next year. And so we say “there’s always next year.” And for the Philadelphia Eagles, technically, that’s still true.

But we’re still in THIS year. And after taking a good hard look at this year, it’s hard not to be tempted to look at last year. This year, the most recent Sunday Night loss to Dallas at home, leaving the Birds with a record of 4-5, leaves every Eagle fan in a lurch. In our heart of hearts, we still have and hold onto last year’s Super Bowl victory. Someway, somehow that colossal win was supposed to convert into a repeat Super Bowl victory this year. But not so. 

LAST year, the Eagles had a great team. In fact, we weren’t just great, we were awesome.  Last year, the Eagles had great chemistry. The coaching staff, the offensive line, the running backs, and the defensive line, all were top notch.  Not so much this year. The Eagles lost their Offensive Coordinator and their Quarterbacks Coaches to other teams.  The running backs we had for all or most of last year are mostly gone: LeGarrette Blount was allowed to walk in free agency, and Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproules are injured. Corey Clement has not panned out like everyone hoped he would, and so that leaves the team with Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams.  Needless to say, the chemistry we have this year is not the  same as last year.

And so the bottom line is this: they call it the Super Bowl Slump.  Teams that win the Super Bowl hardly repeat as champions and win another the next year (it hasn’t happened since the Patriots did it in 2005), and a good number of Super Bowl Champions don’t even MAKE IT to the playoffs after the big win.

Generraly speakintg, we’re not supposed to look backwards; we’re supposed to look forward.  God put two eyes in the front of our heads for a reason.  Biblically speaking, the only time we are encouraged to look back is to be grateful for yesterday’s victory’s and yesteryear’s triumphs.  

And at this point in this season, that’s pretty much all we’ve got.

“The Eagles’ Super Bowl championship was viewed as the greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history. That team will be beloved forever, and the players and coaches spent all offseason hearing how they fulfilled every Philly fan’s lifelong dream.”

 https://sports.yahoo.com/super-bowl-hung-eagles-danger-missing-playoffs-loss-cowboys-042711745.html

Note To Jimmy Butler: “Come To Philly!”

jimmy_butler-76ers

Almost everyone says that the Sixers will be better with Butler. Right? . . . Right!

But that’s what we all hope and pray. The question is, ARE we really better with Butler? The answer:  We better be! Butler is a gritty, in no ways pretty, in your face, non-commonplace kind of player. Butler is gutsy and garish, impudent and intolerant, and he’s not coming to Philly to play.  Butler is coming to ball. Butler in a word, is a bad butt (we don’t use French here!). Butler is all about getting the “W” so he doesn’t like to lose. I love it.

Are we better with Butler? Of course we’re better with Butler.  Butler has attitude, has an attitude, and will confront and contest when necessary. And I love it. In other words, Butler is, in fact, EXACTLY the kind of player the Sixers need and he’s just what the Dr. ordered (did someone say Dr. J?).

Butler will beat the drum and rally the troops. He’s a savvy, sassy veteran who knows how to win and he wants to win now. He has no problem calling out his teammates for lackadaisical and lackluster effort. He’ll put and point his finger in your face and call you out, if need be. And I love it.  The Sixers have a bad habit of turning the ball over and giving big leads away. And I hate it. The Sixers need to get in the habit of taking care of the ball and holding on to the lead. And that’s where Butler will fit right in.

And that’s how Christians should be. We should be fearless and dauntless and determined and downright dogged when it comes to living soberly, righteously and Godly in this present world.  We should stop making excuses for bad behavior, We should hold each other accountable and be willing to fight tooth and nail for what is right.  We should live uprightly and speak forthrightly, and we of course must practice what we preach. Amen.

 Here’s what USA Today had to say:

 “Philadelphia gave up quality players but got a much-needed All-Star in return. Butler is the type of two-way player – All-NBA, All-Defense – who can elevate a team like the Sixers, who reached the conference semifinals last season, have an All-Star in Joel Embiid and a future All-Star in Ben Simmons.

Butler should help Embiid and Simmons, and vice versa. Philadelphia’s offense (ranked 20th) and defense (ranked 10th) are expected to improve with Butler, who averaged 21.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals and shot 47.1 percent from the field and 37.8 percent on 3-pointers in 10 games with Minnesota this season.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/columnist/jeff-zillgitt/2018/11/10/jimmy-butler-trade-76-ers-shifts-power-eastern-conference/1958821002/

 And here’s what ESPN had to say:

 “The odds have always been against Butler. His path to the NBA is as unlikely as anyone who plays in the league given that his backstory (of being homeless at 13 before moving in with a friend’s family) reads like the basketball version of “The Blind Side.” No matter how many ups and downs Butler endured in his journey to the precipice of NBA stardom, the 25-year-old never stopped believing in himself. The same drive that helped get him out of Tomball, Texas, and into Marquette University is the same fuel that’s pushed him to average over 20 points a game early this season.

No matter how high Butler’s stardom grows it doesn’t appear that he will ever lose the gigantic chip that resides on his shoulder. Like many great athletes, Butler is driven, in large part, by the opportunity to prove people wrong. He likes when the odds are high because that’s the way it’s been for him all his life. He doesn’t know any differently.” http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/11931211/jimmy-butler-unusual-path-becoming-star

So welcome to Philly Jimmy!  Thanks for bringing your brotherly love to Cheesesteak City. The Philly faithful are dancing and jumping and hoping that this blockbuster trade works out. 

 

Maryland Get’s It Wrong, Then Makes It Right

Jordan McNair2
Jordan McNair, former University of Maryland offensive lineman, died tragically as a result of a heatstroke suffered during practice on May 29, 2018

Former University of Maryland Head Football coach DJ Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave August 11, 2018.  This was  in response to the June 13th death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from a heat stroke he suffered at a May 29 workout.

Durkin had been reinstated Tuesday, following two separate investigations into the football program and five meetings and calls between the 17-member board of regents. Then,  just one day later, after a public outcry, largely from the student body, Durkin was fired by President Wallace Loh.  The decision to reinstate Durkin had been met with outrage and protests by students, politicians, McNair’s family members and even some of the players themselves.

“We feel gratified that some justice has been done, that Dr. Loh took it upon himself to do the right thing,” Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, told SportsCenter on Wednesday night.

One student tweeted this assessment of the situation: “I don’t think Maryland could have possibly handled this entire situation any worse. He should have been fired in July or August.”  Amen.  How does a student die becasue of an incident suffered on the practice field, and then you investigate the situation to death, and then you reinstate the head coach, and then you fire him?  Seriously? 

Without question, it was a tragic death that Jordan McNair died. But the University of Maryland made his demise a hundred times worse and more painful by dragging the verdict out and then flip-flopping the punishment for Coach Durkin all over the place.  First of all, the investigation took too long.  Period. Then, the aftermath was like, coach DJ Durkin is a good man, so let’s give him another chance.  No. Not at Maryland. Not at the expense of feelings and emotions and passions and sentiments, and raw anger. 

The morale (pun intended) of this story is this: we need to right wrongs as quickly as we can. And Maryland taught us that dragging out an apology and the necessary restitution is actually a second fatality that only exacerbates the original mortal wound.  In other words, Maryland killed Jordan McNair more than once. 

So let’s all remember, when we make a mistake, let’s not make this same mistake.