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

UNO! a.k.a., Claim Victory, Because Victory is Now

 

I pick the Dodgers vs. Yankees in the 2017 World Series.

 That’s right. Let’s renew and revive an East Coast, West Coast, “Left” Coast, “Right” Coast rivalry one more time for ole time’s sake. Could it be Boston vs. Chicago or Colorado vs. Houston, or the Nationals vs. Cleveland? Nope. It could be, but it won’t.  

How do I know you ask? Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and say what you see even before it’s actually audible or visible. Don’t wait until others see it, especially when you saw it first. Why? Because the Victory Is Now. Now is the time to decree and declare what you desire and determine to be your destiny.

And how about Super Bowl 51? Who ya got? I know only a fourth fraction of the season has been played, and this is only the quarter pole, but remember, the victory is now. That’s why I’m picking my Eagles (pronounced Iggles).

 My Eagles can win Super Bowl 51 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4th. That’s right, you “heard” it and read it first right here at http://www.Godandsports.net. My Eagles “can” win, because they’re just that good, and they’ve got room to get a whole lot better. Braggadocios, you say? An arrogant overreach? An overconfident overstep? Not if you understand the power of your words.

 The winners of the 2017 World Series and Super Bowl 51 played in February (I miss January Super Bowls – remember them?) must declare victory now. Before the first pitch of the playoffs and prior to reaching the pinnacle of America’s pastime and before they play football in December when it really counts, victory must be decreed and declared.

 In order to win in sports and in life, we need to decree and declare victory now. Because you can have what you say. In fact, you will have what you say, because you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). In fact, you will reap more that you sow, because of the principle of seed time and harvest. Seeds multiply. And multiplication always get’s you back more than you put in. So be careful what you put out, because just like in the card game UNO, it is most certainly coming back. The prophet said that if you “sow to the wind, you’ll reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7).

 Don’t get cynical on me. Some say that you don’t get everything you say. That may be true, but you won’t get anything you don’t say. Right?

 If you want to win, talk about it. Dream about it. Sing about it. Shout about it. Because your words will carry the crib or the coffin of your dreams. And you can kill a baby before it blooms and you can also revive a corpse even after its doom.

 So stop speaking doubt and downfall, because if you speak it, you’ll reap it. When you speak health and life, those words are the seeds that will eventually produce your harvest. Speaking in generalities never works. Saying maybe and perhaps and if and I wish I woulda coulda will get you exactly that. Somewhere between first place and dead last, which is nowhere with nothings to show for it. If you don’t get definite and decisive with what you want, that’s EXACTLY what you’re going to get. So watch what you say and be careful with what you speak.

 Just remember faith without works is dead, so you need to put your aim into action and match your desire with determination.

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/ 

Survival of the Fittest

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) is carried off the field by outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (54) and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) after kicking a game winning 61 yard field goal as time expires for a victory against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.                                           Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports    

Jake Elliott is now a hero in Philly.  He got carried off the playing field after a thrilling, comeback  win in the Eagle’s home opener. But first, let’s talk about Penn State’s equally stunning win.

Penn State pulled off one of the most improbable, implausible wins of the season and maybe of Coach James Geoffrey Franklin’s career. His young guns came through in the clutch as the No. 4 Nittany Lions survived their trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired — beating Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night.

It was a final drive to remember. Penn State had just 90 seconds to go 80 yards to overcome the 19-15 deficit. It got to the 7-yard line thanks to seven McSorley completions and a 12-yard McSorley run. With four seconds left, on fourth-and-goal, McSorley audibled and found Johnson over the middle to complete the last-second comeback.

And to top off the weekend, my Eagles beat the New York Football Giants in epic fashion. Philly’s rookie kicker hit a record-setting, 61-yard field goal as time expired. Elliot’s longest previous kick had been 55 yards.  Elliot, who just joined the team two weeks ago, set up for the kick with one second on the game clock. The snap and the hold were all good, and as all of Philly watched with bated breath, the ball just barely nicked the right upright and sailed over the crossbar with no time left on the clock.

Both Penn State and the Eagles had the game in hand but seemingly let their victories slip away as Iowa State and the Giants both grabbed leads late in the game. But both victorious Pennsylvania teams had enough gumption and gusto to march down the field and win their games in walk off style.

The term “survival of the fittest” is a Darwinian term referring to “those traits best suited to perpetuate the species that endure to be passed along indefinitely from generation to generation. Conversely, those traits most detrimental to the good of the species will be phased out after a few generations.”  While we do not subscribe to evolution, we can borrow, repurpose and re-apply this term  to sports teams and players appropriately.   

In sports, fitness means you have work out your kinks and worked on your game and have survived the tests and the trials and the sufferings and the pains that come part and parcel with every day of practice and every game of the week and every season of your career. And the same goes for life. Your survive the tests and trials  of life and emerge intact; you may be battered  and you may be bruised, but in the end your spirit is unbroken and you’re no worse for the wear. 

So, even if you’re not a fan of the Nittany Lions or of the Philadelphia Eagle’s, you have to love how these two teams emerged and evolved through their games and survived.  It’s a lesson for us all.

Always remember, it aint over till it’s over. Even with 0.4 seconds or 0.1 second on the clock, you too can survive.

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 . . .

Colin Kaepernick Deserves A Second Chance

Colin-Kaepernick-Sad-Face

Right now, Colin Kaepernick is looking down. His prospects of playing again in the NFL are looking down too. And his outlook and the current outcome of his nationally known protest against racial injustice are looking about as good as he is. But there’s always hope, right? I mean, everybody deserves a second chance, right? It’s called redemption. It’s called restoration. It’s called revival.

The truth is, 2nd chances are the foundation of our faith. Getting another shot is the backbone of our belief system. And coming back from the dead is the hallmark of our hope and peace. Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds are on every page of God’s Playbook.  And who on earth couldn’t use a little rejuvenation every now and then?

This is from the Undefeated.

“On the day Colin Kaepernick said he still wants to play in the NFL, five-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady said the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is qualified to play and he hopes to see him back on the field.

Former New York Daily News reporter and Fair Punishment Project writer-in-residence Shaun King posted a picture of himself with Kaepernick just after 11 a.m. Sunday, and less than 30 minutes later, quote tweeted his post explaining that he had asked the free-agent quarterback whether he wanted to continue playing in the NFL.

Less than an hour later, Brady threw his support behind the Super Bowl quarterback in an exclusive interview with CBS Sunday Morning.

‘I’ve always watched him and admired him. The way that he’s played he was a great young quarterback,’ the New England Patriots quarterback told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell. ‘He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. He accomplished a lot in the pros as a player. And he’s certainly qualified, and I hope he gets a shot.’

Kaepernick started a national conversation about the injustices black people and people of color face in America and at the hands of police by sitting and eventually kneeling during the national anthem last season. He also has donated $900,000 of the $1 million he pledged to give to charitable organizations and advocacy groups last October.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March. Two weeks into the NFL season, he has visited with only one team, the Seattle Seahawks in May. The Baltimore Ravens discussed bringing in Kaepernick in July after starter Joe Flacco suffered an injury. Thirty-seven quarterbacks have signed with NFL teams since Kaepernick became a free agent.

Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that some Cincinnati Bengals players would like the team to consider signing Kaepernick. The Bengals have not scored a touchdown in their first two games, and starter Andy Dalton has struggled. A.J. McCarron is Dalton’s backup. The Bengals’ front office has not expressed interest in Kaepernick.

Last month, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it would be ignorant to believe Kaepernick is being held out of the league for anything other than his national anthem protest.” By Rhiannon Walker @InstantRHIplay; https://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-says-hes-ready-to-play-tom-brady-hopes-he-gets-a-shot/

Amen Brother.

So whadaya say? Let’s start a national campaign to get Kaepernick back in the saddle. Because in sports and it life, everybody deserves a 2nd chance.