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/ 

Escape From New York: Carmelo Is A Knick No Longer

Carmello Anthony Running and All Smiles
NEW YORK, NY –  Carmelo Anthony, #7 of the New York Knicks, is all smiles as he’s running out of  Madison Square Garden in NYC and is on his way to play for the Thunder in OKC.
Carmelo Kyam Anthony is smiling now. He’s smiling because he’s running out of and running out on New York. That’s right, Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick no longer.  Too bad, so sad (for New York Knicks fans, that is). And the really sad part is that he seemed like he never really wanted to be there in the first place. Talk about continuous compunction.   

So let’s get it out there right up front: this has been one of the messier and muddier sports separations in recent memory. Discord, disharmony, and dissonance all led to distrust and the destruction of a viable team playing at MSG, and you could see it a mile away.

The spiritual lesson is eternally, powerfully poignant: always and forever, where there is unity, there is strength. But since there was only disunity and dysfunction in New York, it had to end in disaster, at least for the Knicks. And since one teams’s trash is another teams treasure, it appears that the OKC Thunder are now even more primed to go toe to toe with Golden State for the Western Conference Title.

So much for the color commentary; here’s the play by play:

Anthony, 33, is a ten-time All-Star, but the Knicks are prioritizing a full rebuild centered around Kritaps Porzingis after a tumultuous last few seasons. The team fired Phil Jackson as general manager and replaced him with Scott Perry in July. (And just who is Scott Perry?)  Anyway, New York went 31-51 last season and has not made the playoffs since 2012-13.

In Oklahoma City, Carmelo joins a team that acquired Paul George in the offseason, and reports say George and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook played an “immense part” in convincing Anthony to waive his no-trade clause.

Even after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors in free agency last summer, Oklahoma City went on to win 47 games and make the playoffs.  If the Thunder are able to keep their new stars, they could set themselves up for many more  seasons of sustained success.

Anthony leaves the Knicks with uneven results. They made the playoffs three times during his tenure, including a 54-28 record and Eastern Conference semifinals appearance in 2012-13. But New York never reached the conference finals and had four coaches and one interim coach in Anthony’s seven seasons with the team.

The Knicks have had four consecutive losing seasons – three of them under Phil Jackson’s unproductive run as president. Jackson alienated Anthony as the team tried to go into rebuild mode. Though Anthony may have enjoyed living and playing in New York, he also realized his time with the Knicks was over.

http://www.msn.com/en-ph/sports/basketball/what-does-carmelo-trade-mean-for-knicks-thunder/ar-AAsokPu?li=AA4RHM 

https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-rumors-knicks-oklahoma-city-thunder

So let’s learn the lesson again; in sports and in life, where there is unity there is strength. And when there’s not . . .

The Isaiah Thomas/Kyrie Irving Trade: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Isaiah Thomas celtics- I don’t get it.

Boston parted ways with one of its most beloved players, Isaiah Thomas, in exchange for Cleveland’s most bemoaned player, Kyrie Irving, in a late summer, blockbuster trade that’s rocking the NBA world.  After the season ended, Kyrie DEMANDED to be traded, so Cleveland had to do something. 

So I get it. I really do. Kyrie was damaged goods in Cleveland, and Isaiah, coming off of hip surgery, was a question mark for the upcoming season, at best. Kyrie burned his bridges in Believeland and Boston saw an opportunity to cement their standing as the No. 1 seed in the East. Now beating Cleveland should be a fait accompli.  Right?

But then again, I don’t get it. Isaiah played his heart out for Boston, and Kyrie won a NBA Championship in Cleveland. So why leave? And why part with a fan favorite in Thomas when he’s the heart and soul of that team?

I get it. Sports is a business. Sports teams are not family anymore. Professional sports teams are organizations, not chummy chum chum kinfolk. The bonding and the binding and the belonging that comes with a sports team that resembles a tight knit family is no more.  It’s in God’s playbook, but not NBA owners. And that’s a shame.

Even though the Kevin Durant signing turned out swimmingly, this was a TRADE, not a free agent signing. So there’s no guarantee that this swap and switch-aroonnee will work.  What about the chemistry between Kyrie and the other veteran Boston players? And will little Isaiah be “big” enough to handle playing with LeBron?

 I don’t get it. But then again, I get it. Once again, we see another example of how sports is like life and life is just like sports. On one hand you scratch your head and wonder.  And on the other hand, you just gotta believe.

Can Anybody Stop The Dodgers?

Dodgers

The LA Dodgers are RED HOT! 

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball by far. Get this: “L.A.’s winning percentage over the past two months (.863) is nearly 200 points higher than the Nationals’ winning percentage over the past three days (.667). That’s right. With another win on Sunday, the Dodgers are now 44-7 in their past 51 contests. Forty-four and seven. Incredible.

The timing of the Dodgers’ streak is not a coincidence, either: The first of those 51 games came on June 6, when L.A. beat the Nationals in the finale of a three-game set in Tinseltown. The following day, Justin Turner — who’s, um, really good at baseball — returned after missing three weeks with a hammy strain. It has been ice cream and puppy dogs ever since. And that’s despite missing ace Clayton Kershaw for the past two weeks!

Of course, just because Dave Roberts’ club is on pace for an absurd 115 regular-season wins doesn’t guarantee anything in the postseason. Just ask the 2001 Mariners, who set an MLB record by going 116-46, then lost in the ALCS. Then there’s this: Of the 21 teams that have posted 100-win seasons since the beginning of the wild-card era, only seven of them have reached the World Series. So maybe there’s hope yet for the Nationals. Or the Cubs. Or the Brewers. Or the Marlins.”

http://www.espn.com/blog/washington-nationals/post/_/id/2928/what-nationals-cubs-told-us-about-the-nl-pennant-race

And so the question really is, how can you and I get hot and stay hot? In other words, how can we get on a roll, spiritually?  It’s the question of the ages. First of all, it takes focus and not hocus-pocus. Sometimes it takes more than we’ve got but less than we know how to give. What it takes is not a mystery, nor a well-kept secret.  

Getting good and staying good is easier said than done, but it can be done.  Getting good and staying good requires discipline and determination and concentration and furtive contemplation. It requires having a will and making a way.  It also requires a hand out from Heaven and a hold out from hell.  We’ve got to have Divine assistance, and we must resist demonic attack. 

So don’t just wish a win; will a win. We must desire to succeed more than we desire life itself.  Look up and not down; look past obstacles and look through objections. And then, nothing, nothing at all, and no one at all, will be able to stop what God has started in you.