Predict Your Future

Embiid and Simmons

Here’s a sports prophesy that I hope comes true: The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers will win it all, in 3 years or so, give or take.  There. I said it.

Sports prognosticators predict wins and losses and victories and defeats. But this is not a prediction, per se. I have a prophecy,  that I hope comes true. It’s a  Type 1Prophecy, meaning it’s a prediction made based on human intuition and analysis of facts. It’s not from God, even though I hope heaven is in on this one.

There are true prophets and false prophets. And no true prophet wants to be confused with a false prophet.  And the problem with prophecy is that in order to be valid and legitimate it has to come true. So, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to prophesy.  It’s a sports prophecy. So here goes: the Sixers will win the NBA Championship within 4 years.  (Did I say 3 before?) There I said it, and here’s why:

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem destined to be at dynamic duo set out to destroy defenses across the NBA for quite some time.  So why not shoot for the top?

In LA, Embiid scored 32 points against the Clippers and then, just two short nights later,  Embiid put up monster, if not historic numbers: he scored 46, that’s Forty Six points, had 15 rebounds and 7 assists and 7 blocks against the Lakers at Staples Center. Not too shabby for a second year big man that can hit threes with ease.   And Simmons was one rebound short of ANOTHER triple double.  And thus Simmons and Embiid have saved the Sixers.

Simmons is a Saviour; or, as some would say, he’s a savior of sorts. He was 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. And so far, Simmons is averaging 17.8, points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Not bad for a rookie.  And the 76ers other all-star candidate, Joel Embiid, is averaging 23 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

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 resurrect to life and health and wholeness.

For Philly, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are just what “The Dr.” ordered., becaseu the City of Brotherly Love is in dreadful need of some real relief and release.  And you may be too. So predict your future. And call out for salvation, because you need to participate in your own resurrection.

The last time the Sizers had the No. 1 pick was 20 years ago. Simmons was the No. 1 pick in 2016 and Markelle Fulz, who has barely played, was the No. 1 pick this year. A generation ago, 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 for 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 While I hope Embiid and Simmons deliver, I don’t have to hope about Heaven. There is a heaven and there is a hell, just like the Bible says.  Isreal became a nation, just like the prophets predicted, and we are living in perilous times, just as the Apostle Paul, a New Testament prophet fortold.

 As for my predictive prophecy about the Sixers wining it att, the city and the fans feel and sense that their redemption draweth nigh. With Ebiid’s 46 point performance against LA the other night, the wait for a good team is over. Now we just have to wait Embiid and Simmons to become a great team, and deliver a championship.  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.

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? (or football  for that matter– GO EAGLES! Fly Eagles fly, on to victory . . .  I just had to get that in.)

Anyway, to the Philly faithful, sports salvation is here. And for everyone else, if you want to be saved, salvation is yours for the asking.

A Good Kid Does A Bad Thing

LaVar-Ball_HS-Sons-

UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball comes from a high profile family. His father, Lonzo Ball, is frank and forthright, can be outspoken and has been underestimated; he may have a big mouth but he’s also got an oversized vision of his sons’ basketball future. And you can’t blame him for that.

But this is not about dear ole dad. This is about his middle son, who by all accounts is a good kid who did a bad thing. It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing.  But we’ve all done upsetting and disappointing things at one time or another. And most of us are thankful that our missteps and mistakes didn’t make front page news. The hope here is that LiAngelo can come back and turn this thing around for good.

Here’s the skinny on what happened to LiAngelo Ball and two of his teammates in China:

“UCLA faces the embarrassing prospect of opening its season without three freshman players who have been benched after being released on bail following an alleged shoplifting incident in China. LiAngelo Ball and his Bruins teammates are in Hangzhou, China to play Georgia Tech in the team’s season-opener this Friday–except Ball, along with fellow freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, will probably miss the game.

As time as gone by, it now appears that LiAngelo Ball and these two teammates will not play when the Bruins open the season against Georgia Tech at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time Friday in Shanghai, Coach Steve Alford announced Wednesday. ESPN, which will carry the game, first reported the news. In fact, they might miss other Bruins games (plural) when the team returns home to the States. And it won’t be because these players suffered injuries or illness. It will be because they are still in China–and possibly in a Chinese jail.

The three players were arrested on Tuesday for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store. The arrests, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, followed interviews by about 20 local police officers with UCLA players while the players stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The Louis Vuitton store is located next to the hotel and, particularly given the high value of much of the store’s inventory, most likely contains security cameras throughout and around the store.”

And the moral of the story is?  Good guys from good families who are good players can have a bad day and do a bad thing and end up in a bad way. It’s sad but true. The hope is that LiAngelo learns from this quickly and is allowed to return to the States and his team and chalk this up as an example of what not to do. It’s called a second chance. In biblical parlance it’s called redemption and restoration, something we all have needed and still need, every day.

So let’s hope for a positive outcome and not throw stones. It’s easy to judge and be a critic when things go south. But it’s better to withhold the verdict and delay sentencing because we all live in glass houses. Just think, what would have happened if you got the punishment you deserved when you got caught for that silly, stupid thing you did back when?   

Alonzo Ball Bounces Back  

 

Lonzo Ball

Alonzo Ball, the No. 2 Pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, scored 3 points in his rookie debut against the LA Clippers. Three points.  That’s 3 as in right after two and just before four. Ball finished the night with three points, nine rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal. At times, Ball displayed his elite court vision with lengthy, fast break passes. Other times, Ball looked passive, lacking the aggression fans hoped for from a top three draft pick. But thee points? And he only attempted six shots? Please. 

But hold the presses. One game does not a season make.  

His head coach defended his celebrated rookie recruit with this: “I think Lonzo’s getting a bad [rap] for getting destroyed his first game,”  Coach Luke Walton said before the second game of the season. “Personally, I thought he could have had a double-double with rebounds and assists [but] we didn’t make any shots. … I thought he was fine last night. It’s a good learning experience for everybody.”  http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21096424/los-angeles-lakers-lonzo-ball-goes-one-assist-shy-triple-double-vs-phoenix-suns

It was a good learning experience indeed.

And learn quickly from this experience he did, because Ball bounced back with a bang. On Friday night in the second game of his career, Ball bounced back by flashing the kind of triple-double versatility that made the Lakers select him second overall in the draft. He displayed the kind of passing that dazzled at the Las Vegas Summer League and knocked down four 3’s, including a step-back 3-pointer.

Ball is the first teenager since LeBron James to have 29 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. His 29 points are the most by a Laker in his first or second game of his career since at least 1963. Magic Johnson scored 26 in his debut.

And that’s what we need to do. We all need to bounce back, and quickly. So don’t let a bad day or a bad night or a bad week or even a bad season set you back or hold you back. Don’t let a letdown keep you down or hold you down. Get back up and get back going!  Ball did. He’s got a lot of hype and a lot of hope riding on his shoulders, and he proved that he can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ as he flipped the script and proved all of the doubters wrong, again.

So bounce back. Get back up. Dust yourself off. Recoup and reclaim and recover all that the devil stole from you. Because it’s not how many times you fall down that counts; it’s how many times you get back up.

A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again.

Proverbs 24:16

 

The Part of Life That Hurts The Most

 gordon-hayward injury

On the first night of the season, in the first game of the season, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was carried off of the floor in Cleveland after suffering a horrific-looking left ankle injury a little less than six minutes into his Boston debut Tuesday night.

Hayward’s left leg bent awkwardly as he landed under the Celtics basket with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Teammates and Cavaliers players including LeBron James rushed to check on Hayward as he was stretchered from the court.

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade knelt with his hand on his head nearby as team doctors attended to Hayward. Shell-shocked Celtics players huddled, with Kyrie Irving burying his head in the chests of teammates Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum.

Cleveland fans gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was taken from the court with his entire left leg immobilized in an air cast. He was immediately taken to the Cavaliers locker room for more evaluation. James and former Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas, who recruited Hayward to Boston over the summer, went into the Cavaliers locker room where he was receiving medical attention.

Unsuspected, unpredicted, unwanted and unwarranted injuries to the best and brightest players hurt the most. And that’s just like life. Like Hayward, Aaron Rodgers was carted off of the field Sunday after the young season held so much promise and the rest of the season held so much potential. 

The possibities in Boston were endless, as Hayward teamed up with Kyrie Irving to challenge Irving’s old team and teammate, LeBron and the Cavs. But all that’s gone, at least for now.

So how do we deal with the hurt side and the down side of life? How do we deal with the wounds and injuries and bruises? How do we deal with the pain — and pain will come —especially when we were expecting to celebrate being physically healthy and emotionally wealthy and whole?

We need to take time to heal; we need to make time to mend, and we need to have time to allow God to restore our souls. Oh, and one more thing; don’t rush the healing process.  Time does not heal all wounds; God does.

The part of life that hurts the most is when we have to convalesce when we want to compete. It hurts when we have to sit when we want to run. It’s painful to see someone go through pain without the power to aid and assist in a tangible way. Someone said that sometimes we can’t do anything to help but pray.

Even when it seems like we can’t do anything, praying is everything. Because at all times, the best thing to do is pray.

Bring Your “A” Game

Coach Rolando Lamb
Coach Rolando Lamb, America’s Character Coach
I just met Rolando Lamb, America’s Character Coach. Sitting with Coach Lamb, I didn’t fully realize that I was in the presence of greatness; his wit and wisdom are wonderful, and meeting him was a great blessing. 

Rolando Lamb played college basketball for VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to play pro ball for the Seattle Supersonics. He’s been there and done that.  He is the father of Jeremy Lamb, famed UConn basketball star who now plays for the Charlotte Hornets. Coach Lamb is a coach that cares, and he cares most about character.

Character counts. It counts in sports and it counts in life. Character counts in every sport and character counts in every life.  It counts on and off of the court. And true champions have character. Character is charisma and charm and chutzpah. And Coach Lamb embodies and is the epitome of all three.

Coach Lamb says that “Champions do daily, what losers do occasionally.”  That’s where your “A” game comes in. Your “A” Game consists of these three attributes: Attitude, Academics, and Athletics. All three are important, but it all starts with attitude. Attitude is everything. Attitude is a choice.  And a winning attitude is what it takes to be in position to have lifelong success.

So bring your “A” game every day. Bring it in every way. I was blessed and encouraged to bring my “A” Game through a brief but lasting encounter with this great mentor and motivator. So check out Coach Lamb’s website, www.AGameElite.com. You’ll be in the presence of excellence, and it will bless you soul.

 

https://youtu.be/m9gxe3QQMoU

Shattered Dreams: Rick Pitino

rick-pitino-effectively-fired

What does Rick Pitino have in common with Len Bias?  They both broke our hearts.

First, my memory hearkens back to the early to mid ‘80s, when I was a student at the University of Maryland.  I am proud to say that I went to college with Len Bias.  Well, not actually with him, but at the same time. (You know what I mean!)  Anyway, my claim to fame is that while I worked at the Hornbake Undergraduate Library, I waited on Len when he checked out a book. Wow. That’s it. That was the extent of my personal, face to face interaction with this star-crossed athlete who was to one day make millions of dollars playing in the NBA.

But it never was so.

Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose in the spring of 1986 right after he was selected No. 2 overall in the NBA Draft. Talk about a modern day sports tragedy.  The news was devastating.  When I heard the breaking story, I sat at my desk at work and was literally numb.  I was dazed and distraught because Len Bias broke my heart, and the hearts of sports fans everywhere.

Len Bias was supposed to play for the Boston Celtics and break records and fulfill dreams and go down in history as one of the greatest power forwards ever. Instead, his life was an unfulfilled triumph and his death was an unnecessary tragedy.

Talk about a shattered dream. And Len’s life was the life of every University of Maryland sports fan that hoped and dreamed for fame and fortune. By extension, we lived his life.  And we also died his death.

And that’s the calamity and catastrophe of a shattered dream; it eliminates everything we hoped for. It diminishes everything we yearned for. And it devastates everything in us that hungers and thirsts for something higher and better and greater.  Bias went from triumph to tragedy with one bad decision. Consequently, here’s the lesson we need to learn; we need not heap our hopes on anyone or anything other than our Heavenly Father.

We all have a tendency to break hearts and shatter dreams, ours and those close to us and those that count on us. Unintentionally, we all have the propensity to let people down and put people off, and that’s one of the tragedies of sports  . . .  and life too.

Rick Pitino did the same thing. He broke our hearts. And the really bad part of the story is that Pitino is denying any cupability.  So we may never know the truth. That’s why I feel for the fans of the University of Louisville. Pitino’s fall was not just a personal one; it was a very public one. It was shared with and by all who had faith and hope in this man who rose to the heights of the coaching ranks, but unfortunately let his friends and his fans down.  

Let’s not repeat Pitino’s pitfall.  

The Politics of Sports, a.k.a., Who Wants To Be Uninvited To The White House?

white-house

“You could see the end to this awkward dance between the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and President Donald Trump coming from 140 characters away.

Less than a day after so many prominent members of the Warriors reiterated their stance that they didn’t want to visit to White House to celebrate their title, and just hours after Trump’s inciteful rally in Alabama where he took aim at NFL players who protest the national anthem, he wasted no time in taking to Twitter – again.

‘Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!’ Trump tweeted.”  https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2017/09/23/donald-trump-rescinds-white-house-invitation-stephen-curry-warriors/696136001/

Wow.  

Much could be said, but here I yield to another writer, Michel Wilbon.

The following article is from “Wilbon,” (as Tony Kornheiser calls him), co-host of ESPN’s PTI, Pardon the Interruption, sports show.  Michael Wilbon hit the nail on the head.  In light of the ongoing media feud between the President of the United States, who rules from the White House, and athletes in the NBA and the NFL, I could write my own thesis or treatise on the subject, but Wilbon beat me to the punch.  Thanks Mike. 

“It was just before 3 a.m. Saturday, and I could hear the phone buzz from the incoming text. It was from Rex Chapman, a friend of many years now after I’d covered a lot of his college and NBA basketball career. For those who don’t remember Chapman, he was the sweet-shooting guard from Kentucky — white kid who could jump out of the gym — about to turn 50 this October. The despair he was feeling was coming right through the cellphone screen.

The text, in part, read, ‘I’m sorry about Trump. I’ve never been more ashamed. I hope you knew this before, but in case you didn’t I need to say it now. Love you Brother. Rex.’

This was an American man — white — feeling compelled to reach out to another — black — to make perfectly clear he didn’t support any of the garbage coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Not in the president’s Friday night Alabama speech, not in any rantings on Twitter. That Chapman didn’t think taking a knee during the national anthem meant a black football player was a “son of a bitch,” that he didn’t want any part of the hideous racial divisiveness that Trump was instigating.

I texted Chapman back to tell him I’ve known him well enough and long enough to know the only thing he has in common with Trump is race, and I already knew what side of any divide he was on … and that I loved him for composing and sending that text.

Chapman’s 3 a.m. communication was also a forecast of the storm coming right back at the president. Trump was either clueless about the blowback he’d get from the brotherhood of pro athletes, particularly African-Americans, or he’d seriously miscalculated the willingness of an industry of powerful people, most of them white, to stand with those “sons of bitches” who Trump demanded be fired for expressing the most fundamental American right.

Whether Trump was oblivious or misguided, I doubt he expected LeBron James to stand up for rival Steph Curry on Twitter. Could he have had any idea that white teammates would rally around black ones in locker rooms and on sidelines Sunday? Or that the team owners he wanted to fire those black protesters would link arms Sunday with those very players during the anthem? And the last thing he could’ve expected was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, his friend, saying in a statement, “I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.”

The beginning of Kraft’s statement, that there is “no greater unifier in this country than sports and nothing more divisive than politics,” might as well have been the NFL’s official position going into the day’s games. It even one-upped the statement from the measured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who also called Trump’s comments “divisive.”

Those who thought Trump would fire back at Kraft and Goodell personally were left waiting. The president doesn’t waste his nastiest insults on white men, even those who disagree with him, when he has black men such as Curry and Colin Kaepernick to attack. And few, if any, African-Americans were surprised that the man who led the Obama birther movement and called Mexicans rapists said during an Alabama speech that a football player taking a knee during the anthem is a “son of a bitch.”

For a great many of us who find Trump and his actions somewhere between objectionable and loathsome, this latest episode illustrates once again that he is what we think he is. Black men taking a knee during the anthem enraged Trump, but a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members carrying torches also included, in his words, “very fine people” who were just there to protest the removal of Confederate statues.

This isn’t lost on anybody paying even scant attention. As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “These are … probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess since Vietnam … our differences, I’m speaking in terms of values, are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion and civil discourse and dignity. I thought his comments about NFL players are as bad as anything he’s said to this point. You’re talking about young men who are peacefully protesting, hallmarks of our country.

‘How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans’ but ‘Free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest’? No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.’

There’s an old adage in sports that conveys: You are what your record says you are. We know what Trump’s record is regarding race. And in taking on two leagues, one (the NBA) with some of the most famous people on the planet and another (the NFL) that features the most popular form of sports entertainment in America, Trump emboldened a population that is often reluctant to rally or take risk. Suddenly, with public backing from owners and leagues, players aren’t feeling their careers are at risk to the same degree as before.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wondered aloud during a television interview Sunday whether Trump is ready for the blowback from a community of people with so much national and global influence. And now those people, even the anthem-kneelers, find themselves being patted on the shoulder by sympathizers if not allies.

I texted Rex Chapman later in the afternoon to ask permission to share his thoughts publicly. Like millions of us, he was watching and listening, hoping to see definitive signs that we had progressed as a nation in our lifetimes, hoping that a choir of voices could overwhelm Trump’s.

I’m going to forward to Chapman the Facebook post of Dan Rather, a man who knows the sweep of American history. Toward the end of an eloquent and stunning rebuke of Trump, Rather sounded a note of cautious optimism that I’m certain Chapman was also getting at with his Saturday morning text.

‘We are not a nation of majority bigots,’ the former CBS newsman wrote. ‘The strident ranks of the intolerant can be overwhelmed by enough people agreeing that this is not who we are or who we want to be. Mr. Trump’s cheers can be drowned out by a chorus of justice.’ Even if that chorus is built one voice — or one text — at a time.

——-

Michael Wilbon is one of the nation’s most respected sports journalists and an industry pioneer as one of the first sportswriters to broaden his career beyond newspapers to include television, radio and new media. He is a co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.

https://theundefeated.com/features/donald-trumps-nfl-comments-inspired-a-response-he-didnt-see-coming/