The Sum of Pat Summitt

Summit

Pat Summitt was an icon. Pat Summit was a legend. Pat Summit was the sum total of what a coach and mentor should be. Pat Summitt’s wins and victories and championships and graduation rate are her legacy and are the summary of a superlative life well lived.  All that has been said and written about Pat Summitt are a mere synopsis of her influence and are proof positive that she was a force to be reckoned with.  

Pat Summitt built the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers into a perennial power on the way to becoming the winningest coach in the history of major college basketball. The sports world now pauses to mourn her loss. Pat died today, June 28, 2016. Her death came five years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 64.

In 2011, Summitt announced she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, but vowed to keep coaching. “This is not a pity party,” she said. “We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for Pat Summitt.”

She stayed on for one more year, securing the Lady Vols their 16th SEC Championship under her leadership before retiring. But she didn’t step away from the sport she loved.  Summitt battled the disease with “fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” her son, Tyler Summitt, said.

“Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.”  As the wins and the championships piled up, Summitt’s astonishing achievements commanded national attention and helped usher women’s basketball into the spotlight.

Tyler went onto say that “she’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many — she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure.”

Pat Summit was driven to perfection and always remained true to her standards. That meant doing things the right way, no matter what. Summitt’s impressive coaching record earned her a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

President Obama paused to pay homage to this basketball great.  Obama said that “her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat’s intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court,” Obama said.

“For four decades, she outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans, including our two daughters.”

 Pat Summit NCAA-WOMENS-BASKETBALL-GEORGIA-AT-TENNESSEE-

Thank you for your life and legacy, Pat Summit.

 

Can Simmons Save the Sixers?

bensimmons

Is Ben Simmons a Saviour? Some would say, he’s a saviour, of sorts. He has now become the No. 1 Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and he’s going to a team and a city that is in desperate need of saving.

The Greek work for Saviour is Soter, meaning deliverer. To deliver from danger and death is the purpose of intent and the supreme significance of Biblical salvation. To deliver means to rescue and to defend, both morally and physically, as opposed to being lost and destroyed. And to deliver and save is the herculean task of a Saviour. To save is to revive and retrieve and reawaken to life and health and wholeness.

The Philadelphia 76ers are in dire need of a Saviour. My Sixers are desperate for deliverance. And the City of Brotherly Love is in dreadful need of some real relief and release. And Ben Simmons may well be just what “The Dr.” ordered.

Simmons No 1 Pick

The last time the Sizers had the No. 1 pick was 20 years ago. Then, as it is hoped now, the No. 1 pick became a Saviour of sorts, and went on to become Philly’s favorite son: Allen Iverson. “AI” didn’t win an NBA championship, but he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 1996–97 season. Iverson was also the NBA MVP for the 2000-2001 season, and just this year he was voted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

So can this kid do it? Can Ben Simmons deliver? Only time will tell. For tonight, Draft Night, hope springs eternal. The city and the fans feel and sense that their redemption draweth nigh. Just like Moses arriving in Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from the clutches of Pharaoh, Jesus came and delivered all who believe in Him from the power of sin and shame.

Victory and triumph are feelings that are sewn into our circulatory system and are dyed into our DNA. The craving to be first and not last is seeded deep in our soul and is planted firmly in our spirit. And so the sports analogy of salvation for a franchise and a fan base long lost in losing is absolutely apropos.

As a Philly fan, I long for another glorious season of winning and ruling and dominating in ANY sport, so why not start with roundball? So, to the Philly faithful, sports salvation is here. And for everyone else, if you want to be saved, salvation is yours for the asking.

 

Will Steph Curry Bounce Back?

GTY 476493144 S SPO BKO BKN USA OH

Steph Curry will bounce back, right? I mean, he was the 2016 NBA regular season Unanimous MVP. His team won 73 games. His fans fully expected him to do something heroic or herculean, especially in Game 7, in order to win another title. Unfortunately, Steph and his team went down to the wire, only to lose in the last minute. And just like Draymond Green said, losing the way they lost hurt something awful. His exact words were “this one stings . . . and it’s supposed to.”

Jason Keidel from CBS sports said this: “Since Stephen Curry’s rise was so quick and acute, we haven’t had a chance to find any flaws in his game. Not only did he become the NBA’s darling, the Currys became the first family of basketball. Now he gets a mouthful of the bitter, abject analysis that has dogged LeBron for a decade.

Curry’s stat line is hardly MVP-worthy: 17 points; 4-14 from 3-point range; 5 rebounds; 2 assists; 4 turnovers. He had more turnovers last night than points in the fourth quarter (3). And now comes the ignominy of being just the second reigning MVP to lose game 7 of NBA Finals at home.”

So, let’s ask the question again: will Steph Curry bounce back? Will he get back up and jump back up or will he whine and wallow and stumble and fumble away the rest of his basketball life? I don’t think Steph is the stay down in the dumps type. Curry may not be LeBron James (yet) but he ain’t no Developmental League wannabe either.

If Steph Curry has an ounce of bounce and courage and pluck and grit and spunk, he’ll be back – and back with a vengeance. Because that’s how champions roll. And champions in the game of life all have been knocked down and counted out, but they all bounced back.

Take it from me: I’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises along life’s way, but I always seem to bounce back. I’ve been laid off a good job, been passed over for promotion, wasted money and ruined relationships, lost time, and friends and church members and cars and a house. But thank God I didn’t lose my mind or my faith or my wits or my core. With the help of God and the Grace of our Lord and Savior, I’ve always been able to bounce back.

Steph Curry and “the Warriors were 60 seconds from winning the NBA championship. But they didn’t. This can be a speed bump on their way to a dynasty, or the bookend of a nice, two-year run. How far they go will depend on Steph Curry, as it should.”

Getting knocked down is a given in life. The unknown is if and when you will do a 180° turn and get back on the horse and get back in the fight and get back up to where you belong.

What Went Wrong With the Warriors?

draymond green finals

Lots. Tons. Heaps and mounds and stacks and piles lay at the feet of every player wearing the Warrior wardrobe. Plenty went wrong and there are bundles of blame to go around the Golden State Warriors locker room after losing Game 7 to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors were leading late in the Fourth Quarter, 87-82 and at one point they were leading in the series three games to one; but they let both leads slip away. And now the defeated and deflated 2015 NBA Champs are certainly worse for the wear after this painful, painstaking loss.

Blame and fault go hand in hand with culpability and responsibility. How about this one: Who’s to blame for fouling LeBron James as he attempted a three-pointer late in the Fourth Quarter with the game on the line? The coach, Steve Kerr, who put the player in the game? Or the player who shouldn’t even have been on the court who actually committed the foul? Festus Ezeli, the WORST player on the court, was playing the BEST player on the court, in crunch time! AND they were out on the perimeter, where James hadn’t made a three pointer ALL NIGHT! What’s wrong with that picture? Talk about bad decisions.

And then there’s the Draymond Green factor. Unfortunately, the Warriors will wear this wound like the Red Badge of Courage for years to come. Unfortunately, the Warriors taught us all a lesson in how not to win. And unfortunately, “the Warriors might always be remembered as one of the best teams ever that couldn’t close it out, and Green is taking at least a good share of the blame after he sat out Game 5 on Monday night, June 13, after being suspended for flagrant fouls.”

Who’s to blame for Draymond Green missing Game 5? Who’s to blame for Draymond Green’s multiple flagrant fouls during the playoffs? Draymond Green, of course. But for his part, Green accepted responsibility, at least for his part in the disappointing collapse. Draymond Green said “the loss stings.” And he said, “it’s supposed to sting.” Wow. At least he’s honest. Green went on to say some very respectable things:

I learned a lot about myself as a man. I got to control my emotions. I will always control my emotions now. There is a silver lining in between everything. I’m not a guy that takes moral victories, but I did learn from that. I learned that I can’t put myself in harm’s way and that’s in anything. That’s in basketball. That’s in life. You can’t put yourself in that position.

Everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure what that reason is right now. I know that I’ve learned from [the suspension]. I know it will make me better down the line. But there is still more to it. It will eventually come to me, but I don’t have the answer right now. But the one thing I do know is I’ve learned from it. And if you can learn from something in life, it can go a long way.

Well said. And nuff said.

God Loves Cleveland!

Cavs-win-game-7-jpg

Well, there you have it! History was made tonight as an epic, classic clash of titans ended with LeBron James besting the best team in basketball to win the 2016 NBA Crown. The Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 7 ON THE ROAD after being down 3-1 in games. What an unbelievable, unforgettable unforeseeable comeback.  But I will remind you that I DID see this coming (at least after Game 6). And I am going to say I told you so. 

The best player in the NBA is still LeBron James. Again.  He notched a triple double in a Finals Game 7 and led his team to the promised land of victory. He’s a force to be reckoned with, as the Warriors now know full well. Stephen Curry gave James a run, but LeBron was bent on proving that he’s still the King. LeBron delivered on his promise to bring a Championship to Cleveland. And his legacy has now grown that much bigger and that much broader.

So what is the spiritual speech and the theological lesson to be learned? The Cleveland Cavaliers could have given up and packed it in when they were down 1-3. But King James told his team the same thing Winston Churchill told his Country in WWII: “Never, never, never give up.”

So here’s to Cleveland and to the fans who have hungered and thirsted for a championship for so long. And thanks to King James, they have now been filled. So congratulations LeBron, 2016 NBA Champion and Finals MVP.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:16350298

God loves the World, even and including Cleveland; and that should give all the rest of us hope too.

Cleveland In 7? a.k.a, Do What You Should Before It’s Too Late

James and Kyrie Irving

If Cleveland wins Game 6, they will win Game 7. Period. It will be the first time that an NBA team has come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals. An epic comeback for sure and a storybook ending for LeBron James and the City of Cleveland, a championship starved sports town.

So, If I were the Warriors, I wouldn’t want to put myself in the position to HAVE to win a Game 7 in order to win the NBA Championship this year, even if I’m at home. If you’re the Warriors and you’re playing a Game 7, it means you let Cleveland back into the series after being up 3-1 in games. YOU just came back from being down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, so you know it can be done. Oh well. It looks as if Cleveland will get its championship, after all. Or will they?

I’m a Golden State guy and Steph Curry dude, but the way they’re playing tonight, I don’t know if they have it in them to pull out Game 6 or even Game 7. Too bad. So sad. Again, Cleveland will get its first professional championship if it stays this way.

So what can we learn? What can we glean? What can we take away from this year’s NBA Playoffs and these Finals? For starters, just like Steph and Clay and the Warriors came back to beat Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron and the Cavs can come back to beat the Warriors. It’s that simple.

So don’t count your chickens before they hatch. It’s an idiom which means don’t plan how to utilize good results of something before those results have occurred. The Warriors had their chances. They only scored 11 points in the First Quarter. Eleven Points! Then, because of their offensive sterility and their defensive futility, they were down 20 in the first half of Game 6 but cut the lead down to 8. Then it ballooned back to a 16 point half-time lead. Oh well.

It the Cavs win this game and this series, and right now they look like they will, it will be because Kyrie Irving absolutely KILLED the Warriors. He torched them for 41 in Game 5, and he may score as many in Game 6. LeBron was great, but Kyrie was greater.

Well that’s it. I don’t know about you but I’m going to bed. Somebody wake me if the Warriors decide to play like they can before it’s too late. And maybe that is the lesson.

Do what you should before it’s too late.

A Devilish Difference: God Doesn’t Like Ugly

Draymond Green

It’s still true. It’s still a proven fact. And it’s still being proven, even as we speak; one person can make a difference, for good or for ill. Draymond Green missed Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. More to the point, Green was suspended for accumulating one too many flagrant fouls in the playoffs, and his stupidity and his absurdity cost his team a win, and perhaps a championship.

It’s a proven fact that without Green, the Golden State Warriors saw red. Draymond Green is a fierce, ferocious fellow, full of energy and vitality. His presence makes a difference on the team, and his absence does as well. Yet Green tends to think with his mouth and talk with his arms (and legs for that matter), and the unintended but inevitable consequence is that he gets caught with both hands in the cookie jar.

It’s still being proven that when emotions and passions and feelings and moods get in the way, bad things happen. These various and varying, sundry and sultry, internal intangibles tend to get in the way and take control and take the place of realistic rationale and right reason. Consequently, illogical and illegitimate thinking and thoughts intentionally come to mind. And as we all know, thoughts invariably become things.

It’s still true that love is stronger than hate. Martin Luther King Jr. said that

returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars … Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

But athletes are taught to dislike and even hate their opponents to the point that they will do almost anything to win and/or to wound their “enemy.” But fierce rivals need not go to the extreme and hurt or mishandle members of the opposing team. “Hate of other people ‘is really displaced hate of oneself,’ psychologists say. And ultimately, feelings of self-hate motivate people to restore their sense of significance through action.”

It’s still true that one person can turn the tide and save the day. It’s also still true that one person, especially one lone gunman, can destroy the day and snuff out the lives of lay persons unnecessarily. Unfortunately, another mass shooting has turned into a mass killing and the subsequent motley, mutinous massacre leaves us doubting and pondering and questioning society as a whole, and probing and examining and investigating our own individual values and mores in specific.

It’s truer now than ever; our morals and ethics and tenets and beliefs and practices are on trial. They’re being put on the witness stand, and we’re all forced to do the swearing in and the direct questioning and the cross-examining in order to peel back the layers of bogus, bigoted, artificial flavoring and coloring to get down to the truth.

In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter that Pulse was a Gay night club. Not when 49 innocents were gunned down in the prime of their lives by a lone gunman who determined that he wanted to make a difference; a decidedly destructive, diabolical, devilish difference at that.

So is it wrong to compare Green to the shooter in Orlando? Maybe so, but my mother taught me that God doesn’t like ugly. Make no mistake about it, doing the wrong thing is still wrong, no matter who you are.