Sixers vs. Celtics: Just Like Old Times

Here we go! The Sixers and the Celtics are getting ready to go at it in the playoffs one more time. And it will be just like old times, right? For those that can remember, Dr. J. played against Larry Bird all season long and almost every year in the playoffs. They went toe to toe, duking it out, sometimes literally, each leading their team, each vying for Eastern Conference supremacy. It was great theater and better basketball.

And here we go again. Now we have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid versus a new band of Bostonians including Al Horford, Terry Rozier and rookie sensational Jason Tatum. It should be an instant classic series. All of Philly and all of Boston are sitting on the edge of their seats already in gleeful anticipation — and the opening tip off hasn’t even come yet.

And that’s the anticipation that Christians have living in these toxic and turbulent times. We don’t fear what’s going to happen next. We anticipate the lively hope we actually already have, and now enjoy the promise of the soon coming of Christ. The gloom and doom of yesterday and today will fade in God’s tomorrow as Christ will usher in a truly golden age of bountiful blessings for all who trust and believe in Him.

We have the promise now, and will inherit a retirement package second to none. The theologians call it “the already and not yet.”

And that’s the lesson that this new, highly anticipated Philly/Boston NBA Basketball Playoff series teaches us. Anticipation and expectation are spiritual things. And they belong in church and in sports too.

Advertisements

Virginia is For Real!

UVA Wins ACC Tournament

The University of Virginia won the ACC tournament with a convincing 71-63 win over Roy Williams and his North Carolina Tar Heels.  Virginia defeated North Carolina for the second time this season and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Tar Heels in ACC Tournament play.

This season, Coach Tony Bennet led Virginia to a stunning record of 31-2. Along the way, the Cavaliers set a school record for victories, won the conference tournament for the second time in five seasons and will most certainly (actually they have) entered the 2018 NCAA Tournament as the No.1 overall seed, as the field of 68 was announced today.

Virginia has no rookie sensations, no “one-and-dones”– a.k.a., no sure-fire NBA lottery picks, and no players that everyone in the country knows by name. Nonetheless, Virginia is clearly the No. 1 team in the land and they’ve put together one of the most dominant seasons in the storied history of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball.

Kyle Guy, Devon Hall and the Cavaliers won the ACC Championship regular season title and the ACC Tournament with sheer grit, finishing 20-1 against league competition. Not bad for a bunch that started the season unranked and picked to finish sixth in the ACC, the finest college basketball conference in America.

“I think we always knew this could be a special team,” guard Ty Jerome said.

And now that the Cavaliers are favorites. How will they do it? They try to out-underdog the underdogs. I love it. “You fight like you’re not supposed to win or nobody expects you to win,” he explained.

And so it’s true: UVA is for real. They’re the real deal, the real McCoy and are not to be taken lightly. And here’s the spiritual tie in: UVA this year represents what believers should be every year: respected and respectable.  We who believe in the God of Heaven should be at once and always noble and honorable, decent and proper, and, well, what we say we are. To use a tried and true truism, we need to practice what we preach. UVA certainly does.

The UVA defense is lights out. And they score just enough to be a respectable offensive threat. In other words, if you say you’re a defensive team, then don’t try to run when you know you can’t. They do what they do, and they’re proud of it, even if nobody likes it. We want offense. They know they can win with defense. And that’s that.  The UVA defense is the truth. They defend the perimeter and smother you on the interior so that opposing teams feel like they can’t even breathe when they’re got the ball. Offenses bog down and melt down under the UVA’s constant pressure.

So there.  UVA is my pick not only to go to the Final Four but to win the whole thing. 

Let the madness begin.

Another Reason To Hate Duke: Grayson Allen is “Trippin”

After yet another Grayson Allen dirty play last night against North Carolina in the 2018 ACC Tournament, (Allen hip checked – he actually intentionally extended his butt into the path of an opposing player and sent him to the floor) Allen was hit with a Flagrant One foul. I say that the “dirtiness” of this decidedly dirty player demands that someone do or at least say something about it. So here ya go.

God and Sports

Jimmy V ClassicCoach “K” got it wrong. The Duke Coach got it all wrong. Coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended junior guard and former captain Grayson Allen “indefinitely” and the indefinitely lasted a whopping one game. Allen was suspended for just one game for tripping an opposing player, not once or twice, but for the third time. And now Grayson Allen is playing again. Unbelievable.

I say again, this marked the third time that Grayson Allen intentionally tripped an opposing player in the past year. Allen intentionally stuck out his leg and tripped an Elon player Wednesday night, December 22nd, an incident he later apologized for. Allen was defending Santa Ana late in the first half of the Blue Devils’ 72-61 victory. Santa Ana drove past him on the baseline, and Allen stuck his right leg out, sending Santa Ana to the floor. Allen was assessed a technical foul. He then became overly emotional…

View original post 771 more words

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 . . .

Too Much Talk and Not Enough Play

Lebron-Curry Some Cavaliers have been a little too cavalier with their comments. And some warriors have been a little too wanton with their words. Both teams are posturing and showboating and mudslinging so much that you wonder if they will have anything left when the games begin. There’s been too much work with the mouth and not enough play with the muscles. Of course the Finals haven’t begun yet, so let the talking terminate and let the games begin.

Goliath was a big mouth, and nobody likes a big mouth. Goliath was a loud mouth, trash talkin’, tongue waggin’ somebody. And until David came along, he could back up what he said by what he did. But that all changed. Because David could out talk his taunter because of what his God could do.

Trash talking is and always has been a part of the game. Oft-times players brag and boast about what they are going to do on the court and on the field, yet, only 50% of all trash talkers can deliver; only one team can win the battle for the game, and by extension, the trash talk war.

David and the giant Goliath engaged in what we would call trash talk. “The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’”

But David was unphazed.  He did not talk trash; he spoke by faith. “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’ ”  1 Sam 17:43-47, RSV

So many of us talk a good game, and yet we don’t back up what we say.  We say one thing, and do another. In my book, that’s trash talk. We promise but we don’t deliver. That’s trash talk.  Indeed we over promise and under deliver.  That’s trash talk.  We purport and “front” and sell wolf-tickets, yet when it’s time to cash them in, we come up short. We talk loudly and proudly before the game, yet slink silently and pitifully on the sideline; after boasting and brandishing we live unseen and unheard lives and are unable to back up what we say.

Many doubt our faith and our Lord. They are trash talking us.  They are wolfing us down. And so the question is, what is our response to this doubting, doubtful, degenerate generation? Like Goliath they look down on us and decry us and our God. Can we backup everything we say?  Can we do everything we promise? As Christians, can we perform and can we deliver?

No worries. As long as we speak the Word of God, we have no fear of trash talkers. And our Champion and King can back up what he says. He will do just what He says! Contrary to Ali, Jesus Christ the righteous is truly the greatest. What He promises He is able also to perform. So let’s follow our Lord’s example.  Let’s say we’re going to do the right thing, and then let’s DO the right thing. No more saying one thing and doing another.   No more reneging on our word. No more trash talk.

Bring It On!

Kevin-Durant-Golden-State-Warriors

This is the Finals we’ve all been waiting for: The Warriors vs. the Cavaliers, and now the Warriors have KD, Kevin Durant. It’s Ali / Frazier III all over again.  And this time, Love and Kyrie aren’t hurt, and hopefully Draymond Green won’t get suspended. So both teams will be at full strength, and we’ll see who’s boss. 

As Kobe once said, “to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.” So if you think you’re all that and a bag of chips, you shouldn’t worry who you’re playing. When you’ve got confidence and conviction and assurance and assertion, it doesn’t matter who’s lining up on the other side of the ball.

And the same principle applies spiritually. We who trust in the God of Heaven shouldn’t be worried or concerned when we’re challenged or cornered or confronted or called out. We know we’ve got a God who will fight our battles. We’ve got a God who’s got our back and our front too. We’ve got a God who won’t back down or back up or give in or give out when we need Him most. We’ve got a God who’s not afraid of the enemy or the opposition. Not in the least.  When we have a problem or a glitch or a quandary or a conundrum, our God says “Bring it On!”  We just have to hold on and hold out and not give up.

So wake up! It’s time to watch NBA Finals, and these Finals should show some of the best basketball ever. And if I fall asleep during one of those late night games, it will be because it’s way past my bedtime, not because one team is playing bad ball. But the action and the excitement and the drama should be enough to keep me awake, right?

The plot is thick and subplots are plenty. Will Durant get his ever elusive championship ring after jumping ship and leaving the Thunder behind and joining the Warriors? Will LeBron win back-to-back championships in Cleveland, after starting his career there before jumping ship and going to the Heat to win two rings on South Beach?

And will these be the best Finals ever?

Bring it on.

Derek Jeter: Baseball At Its’ Best?

Here’s my tribute to Derek Jeter, written two years ago. Jeter was honored this past Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. He was one of baseballs best.

God and Sports

Derek Jeter

Derek Sanderson Jeter just played in his last All Star Game and is playing in his 20th and final season with the only team he’s ever known. At the All Star Game he went 2 for 2 and was the darling of the dance. The incomparable heart beat of the Bronx Bombers, Jeter is the poster child of the pinstripe primadonas, and the captain of the team that captivates us all. Jeter’s team, the New Yankees, is the team that we love to hate, and Jeter is a player that we will hate to lose.

Jeter is the heart and soul and the modern “Pride” of the Yankees. He’s won five World Series rings, and lost 2. And the two he lost he hated to lose. And hating to lose, more so than loving to win, is his enduring legacy. His stats are stellar, but stats are only one thing…

View original post 278 more words