Don’t Play With The Game

Bend It Like Beckham

The game of life comes with rules and regulations, directions and instructions and do’s and don’ts. For instance, it’s just not a good idea to drink and drive. Hence the admonition, “Don’t Drink and Drive!” Then there’s the allowance for right turns on red. So that’s a good thing, right?

We’ll here’s one for everyone to follow as well: “Don’t play with the game.”

Life is nothing to play with. Since life is a game, and there are rules for games, then this is one of them. Life is too short, and tomorrow is not promised. Make the most of every moment, and don’t trifle with the sanctity of life. Living is hard enough, so breaking rules and making up your own policies is foolhardy, at best.

In the game of life there’s a game clock and half court and foul balls and penalties. Sometimes someone may commit a false start or run out of bounds or line up off-sides. Even though It happens, most times it shouldn’t. You’ll want and need to play within the rules, right?

But then again, the world has imposed some rules that need to be broken. Ours is to figure out which ones are hard and fast and which ones are flexible. For instance, what about these recent taboos:

The rule to marry within your culture?

The rule to follow the crowd?

The rule to put family first?

The rule to marry for money? (The rule actually says you should marry for love, right?)

Anyway, it takes discernment and discretion and wisdom and good judgment to play this game the right way. And since we all want to win, we should play to win. And playing to win means that you honor the guidelines and bylaws that have been time tested and proven.

So don’t play with the game. Don’t take it lightly or live it loosely. Play hard and play for keeps. And when necessary, bend it like Beckham.

Watch the film Bend It Like Beckham. You’ll see what I mean.

 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/movies/bend-it-like-beckham/8d6kgwzl5wz0

Who Won the 2017 NBA Draft?

Markelle Fultz NBA Draft

Who Won the 2017 NBA Draft?

Philly, of course! I mean, of course we won, right? What did you think I was going to say? Da Sixas (The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers) selected Markelle Fultz No. 1 with their acquired top pick. And what’s not to like? Fultz can shoot, he can score, he can pass, and he can flat out play ball. 

So, the question is, who is better after the 2017 NBA Draft? Philly? LA? Boston?  We’ll see.  But all three of these historically elite NBA franchises have gotten better with the selection of their draft picks. But the question remains, who will go from good to great? Which team gets not just better, but markedly improved with their pick? And isn’t that what we all want to do?

We all want to be wanted. We all want to be wished for and hoped for and craved and coveted.  The need to be needed lies at the very core of sports, and life. Philly needs a point guard like nobody’s business. And we got the best one in the draft. Thank God.

We all need love and support and attention and affirmation. Too much will spoil us. But too little could hamper us and hobble us for life. The good news is that God wants us. He has chosen us to be His special people and His peculiar possession. To win, all we need to do is signup and play for Him.

Can Dusty Get It Done In DC?

dusty baker (2)

I like Dusty Baker. I do. But there are a few who don’t and that’s why Dusty’s days may be numbered in DC. He’s in the last year of a two year contract, and if he doesn’t make hay now, there may not be many managerial days left for the old-school baseball traditionalist.

Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr has been around the block more than a few times. He’s managed in San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati and now Washington. All of his teams have excelled in the regular season. Unfortunately, it’s that pesky postseason that’s a perennial problem for Dusty.

The Nats are 38-23, with the third best record in Baseball and are 10.5 games ahead of the New York Mets, who aren’t even playing .500 ball. But they are in first place in their division, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s just June, so there’s a lot of baseball left to be played.

So here’s to Dusty. I hope that he and his team can leg it out and make a run for it in this year’s playoffs.  I’m not a Nats fan, (I can’t be, I’m from Philly!) but  I can and do route for Dusty.  The Nats have not extended his contract beyond this year, presumably because the Front Office is waiting to see how the team does down the stretch under Dusty. Last year, the Nationals would win the NL East in his first season, but they lost in the NLDS against the Dodgers.

Go Dusty!

John Wall: Force A Game 7  

John Wall (2)John Wall and the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 in the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 Seed Boston Celtics.  This DC dandy is a fan favorite, and he reconfirmed his star status when he hit a three pointer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. With this heroic effort, Wall and the Wiz are going back to Boston to decide the matter, once and for all.

Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr. was a NBA No. 1 draft pick in 2010, so he has a lot to live up to. This playoff year, with his team and his city on the ropes, Wall won with the weight the Washington sports world on his shoulders. And I’m happy for him.

Life is won and lost in distinct, decisive moments.  And Game 7 is one of those moments. Game 7 is when you find out what you’re made of. Game 7 is when stars are born and when memories are made.  For these reasons and many more, any and all sports fans worth their salt would pay a king’s ransom to be present at a Game 7 (at home, of course).

Life is not won or lost in abstraction. It’s won or lost under the microscope of the big stage. And to get to the big stage of Game 7, we all must win the majority of the 50/50 balls and most of questionable calls along the way.  

So when life pushes you to the brink and to the edge, push back.  Like Mandisa said, sometimes you have to “speak when you don’t have the floor and you have to go when you’re not invited.”  Boston could have/(should have?) won Game 6 on the road, but Wall and the Wiz had other plans. The same should go for you and me too. When life and living and circumstances and situations say that you should be over and done with, roundly object.

Force Game 7.

Don’t Let Your Fans Down

Charlotte Bobcats v Houston Rockets

James Harden let his fans down. He scored a measly 10 points in a Game 6 AT HOME when the playoff season was on the line. San Antonio was missing two of its superstars – Tony Parker AND Kawhi Leonard – and Houston and Harden still couldn’t muster enough mettle to win the game. And the worst part of it is, he played bad (badly for you English majors) and looked bad doing it. And his poor play in this seminal and signature game is another reason I’m not a James Harden fan.

Everybody has fans. Everybody has a fandom and a fan base and a fan nation that route and cheer us on and up and over the humps of life. These fans are crucial and critical to our psyche and our psychology; our fans are vital to our overall vitality and are essential for the state of our mind and the soundness of our soul.

That’s why we should never let our fans down. Even in defeat, loyal fans will cheer for you and chant your name and boost your game. But don’t let them down. Because fans have short fuses and long memories; while they will long remember your great game, after a dreadful loss, they will not soon forget that you are to blame.

Fans understand that nobody’s perfect and that everybody’s suspect. But when you don’t do your best or give your best or even TRY to play your best, you’ve done the worst thing imaginable in the eyes of your fans.

Your fans need to know that you’ve tried and that you’ve given it your best shot. While Harden had a sensational season, he had an uncharacteristically horrible last game of the series against the Spurs. And that’s what everyone, including this fan, will remember most.

So just remember, here’s what hardened athletes and every human heart beat have in common; it’s your friends and your favorites and your supporters and your sponsors that have your best interest at heart. They have your back. They will defend you against all comers (I’m from Philly so I DARE you to say a cross word about Allen Iverson!) But surely, I digress.

Loyal fans are the ones that will be there for you when the chips are down and the season is suddenly over. Remember not to forget and forestall the very fans you need to support you when the going gets rough.

So don’t let your fans down. At least they like you, bad days and bad games and all.

The NBA, aka “Not For Boys” Playoffs: 2017 Edition

isaiah-thomas-celtics

The NBA now means “No Boys Allowed.”  It’s time for the NBA playoffs and it’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time for the strong to prove the doubters wrong, and for the winners not to quit and for quitters not to win.

If you want to play with the big boys you can’t be a little lad.  Come strong or go home. The NBA is a man’s game.  And this year, in this man’s game, the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics lost the first two games of their series to the upstart Chicago Bulls, AT HOME. And in case you missed the score sheet, Da Bulls are the 8th seed, and they barely made the playoffs. But please keep in mind that the leader of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, lost his sister just prior to Game 1, so his heart and his head weren’t necessarily in the same place.

 Chicago beat Boston with a patch-work quilt, taped together, spliced and diced team full of old heads and young thugs. It’s not the 90’s Bulls team anymore; so no more Michael Jordan, no more Scottie Pippen, and most recently, no more Derrick Rose. But this just in: Boston came back and beat Chicago IN Chicago; Games 3 and 4 went to the visitors so now we have a tied series; and now it’s a best of three affair.  And since Rajon Rondo is hurt, it looks like it’s over for D Wade (and his Bulls), who made a go of it in Chi-Town. Wade’s new team isn’t quite ready for playoff prime time, at least not beyond shocking Boston in Boston.

Sports are like life and life is like sports. And the regular season and the playoffs are just like life.  The regular season requires playing with consistency and playing well consistently. And that is necessary and good. But the playoffs is another level.  Yes, the regular season of our lives requires us to be constantly consistent. But that’s not enough if you want to be a champion. Champions win in the playoffs, and the playoffs require everything the regular season demands, and some.

The playoffs demand grit and guts and moxie and chutzpah and determination and fortitude.  The playoffs are the high points of our lives. And the high peaks and lofty goals we strive to reach mandate that we give a little more and take a lot less in order to reach the top. 

If Boston beats Chicago in this first round series, Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will have passed a significant test on their way to the summit. They may not make it to the finals or the championship this year, but at least they will have proven to us, and to themselves, that they are deserving to be a No. 1 Seed in this “no boys allowed” game.

 As for the rest of the 2017 Playoffs, my money’s still on the Warriors, because Durant deserves a dynasty of rings, or at least just one.

Winning Cures Everything

Everyone loves a winner.  Because winning cures everything. It cures frustration and fury and disappointment and depression and everything else in between.  Winning ways will win you admiration and approval and applause and affection, not to mention esteem and honor.  It’s an axiomatic truth; winning cures what ails us, and we have a lot of maladies that we need healing from.

When you’re winning, you’re conquering and overcoming and triumphing over your foes and your fears. And  your fiercest foes may not be as dangerous as your deepest fears or your weariest woes.

This year, the North Carolina Tar Heels showed us how to win ugly. And even though it wasn’t pretty, it was beautiful.  North Carolina avenged a last second, buzzer beater, gut wrenching loss to Villanova in last year’s final. And if that wasn’t a horrible way to lose, I don’t know what is.

This year, while Gonzaga may have been the sentimental favorite, it would have been awful and even cruel and unusual punishment for North Carolina to lose in the finals for a second year in a row.  So the basketball gods asked the God of the universe for permission to let this one go Carolina’s way. 

We all want God to right our wrongs and cure our ills and forgive our iniquities heal our diseases. Especially this time of year during early Spring, the time of the singing of the birds, when hope springs eternal.  We all need a second chance, or more specifically, another chance, at life. After we slip up and trip up and mess  up, we all need another shot at redemption. This is what we all hope and dream and strive for; atonement, renewal and restoration.  

So don’t give up and don’t give in. Even when you lose a tough one, believe that you can bounce back and win the big one.