It’s Time To Dance

UNC Victory over Duke 3.9.19

It’s time to dance. And it’s time to do your victory dance. So do your dance. It’s a message for every wounded warrior and for every sanctified Christian soldier. It’s time for beleaguered believers and for every distressed disciple to dance. For every hater of evil that’s hungry for Heaven, it’s time dance. So do your dance.

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North Carolina just beat Duke for the second time this season, and in so doing they earned the No. 2 Seed in the upcoming ACC Basketball Tournament, the Granddaddy of ‘em all. Duke was without their best player, Zion Williamson, who got hurt in the last UNC/Duke game a few weeks ago. Then today, another Duke diehard, Marques Bolden, was injured early in the game. In the first three minutes of the latest Duke/UNC showdown, Bolden, Duke’s starting center, was helped off the floor and to the locker room with a knee injury suffered on a hard fall after attempting to block Garrison Brooks’ dunk. Duke scrapped and scraped almost all game, but in the end, Duke was not dancing.

Sometimes victories don’t look assured, and sometimes defeat looks like a distinct possibility. Duke was down but not out, and for most of the game they made it look like they could beat UNC at UNC without two of their best players. But for North Carolina, in the end, they could say as David said, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.”

In the end, all of the North Carolina players were dancing and prancing and juking and jiving as they celebrated a sometimes pretty, but mostly ugly, hard-fought fight at the Dean Dome. The Tarheels outlasted and out defended and ultimately outscored their rivals on the way to a 79 70 victory that was well worth dancing about.

Dancing is the universal expression of joy and gladness. Michael Jackson said that “consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

“Dancing is so much more than just grooving on the dance floor to your favorite tunes. In fact, you’ll be surprised how many benefits are associated with dancing. Not only does it train your brain and your body’s motor skills but it also is an excellent exercise for your entire body. As such, it helps you to stay physically and mentally fit. Even more so, dancing regularly can improve your general well-being, boosts your self-esteem and has also been shown to improve your social skills.” http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/2017/dance-quotes/

When David killed Goliath, the women danced. When the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, David danced. He dance with all of his might. And when the prodigal son came home, the father threw a big welcome home party for him. And they all danced.

So dance. It’s March, right? They don’t call the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament “The Big Dance” for nothing! So Dance! Dance like David danced. Dance like the North Carolina Tarheels danced. Dance like no one is watching. Dance like you’ve just beaten your greatest rival, again. Do your dance and celebrate the great victories that God has won for you.

Duke vs. North Carolina, Again: We Don’t Mind Much More March Madness

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It’s March, and that means it’s time for madness. Tonight in Chapel Hill, it’s Duke vs. North Carolina one more time. And we don’t mind it at all, as these two teams always live up to the hype. 

Duke and North Carolina are archrivals, sworn enemies, and fierce foes. In other words, they just don’t like each other.  The competition between then is always bitter and brutal and intense and full of suspense. But it’s the tension and the friction and the pulmonary pressure and coronary and cardiovascular cavitation between them that makes them better together . . . err, that is, they play better when they play each other. Not to mention that the schools have two of the best college coaches in the  game prowling the sidelines in Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. 

Duke has won four NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships—second most of any ACC team, and second only to the University of North Carolina, which has won five. Duke has been in 16 Final Fours; UNC 19.  A few years ago, the count was that seventy-one players have been drafted into the NBA from Duke, and eighty-three NBA (and ABA) players attended North Carolina.  That’s 154 professional basketball players between these two schools. Not too shabby. And the comparisons and contrasts between the two can go on and on.

The Blue Devils and the Tar Heels have history. They have basketball pedigree and it shows. It’s a heated and spirited, feisty and fiery contest of teams that almost always leaves you on the edge of your seat, if you’re not standing on it screaming at the top your lungs. Both teams have more spunk and more spritz, more guts and more gumbo, more zest and more zeal when they play each other. That’s just the way it is when your adversary shows up and calls you out.

This age-old tangle of basketball titans teaches us a valuable lesson: we need our enemies. That’s right — you NEED your enemies; that’s your fiends and you foes, your slanderers and your saboteurs, your betrayers and your backstabbers; you need them all almost as much as you need your friends.

And, if that’s not enough, get this: God can’t serve you “a six-course dinner” unless your enemies are present. Psalm 23 says that God prepares “a table” for us in the presence of our enemies. So, you say that you don’t want any enemies or adversaries around? Then you can kiss your blessings and you’re benedictions goodbye.

 So take it from me. Your enemies bring out your best. And how about this — they bring out the best in us and in our God. God shows Himself strong on our behalf when there is a need for strength. And His strength is made perfect, or made even STRONGER (if that is even possible) in our weakness.

So when your enemy is near and your heart starts to fear, fret not; when our enemy shows up, God will always show out.  When our situations are at their worst, our God is at His best.

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

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Coach “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 on the bench after he found out about the technical.  Talk about a poor sport.

Grayson Allen has now thrice committed the same dirty play. Does that make him a dirty player? You tell me. Allen has now gone from a mild-mannered, Bible verse-tweeting potential All-American to the biggest villain in college basketball. The passionate, palpitant, hard-nosed Allen is arguably the Duke Blue Devils’ best player and is the heart and soul of his team. With him they have a shot at going deep into the NCAA Tournament. Without him, they’re toast. So is that the reason why Coach K and the Duke University brain trust are putting up with his behavior?

There have been many discussions regarding disparity in punishment as pertaining to race. Just think: what would have happened if Grayson Allen was another color, race or creed? He probably would have been kicked off of the team and possibly dispelled from his school. It is disappointing and disparaging to see a Duke player get treated differently than other players would certainly be treated. The  “conspiracy theorists” of the world all believe that there is a double standard, and Duke in general, and now Grayson Allen in particular, got off and got by after doing what is horrible at best and heinous at worst.

Allen has endured a significant amount of scrutiny and criticism, and has been caught up in a viral, social media firestorm; but he did this to himself, purposefully tripping three opponents in the last two seasons. First it was Louisville’s Ray Spalding on Feb. 8, 2016, then Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes on Feb. 25, 2016. The first incident was surprising; the second incomprehensible, a pattern of dirty behavior that no longer could be written off as a “Did he or didn’t he do it intentionally?” debate. No, he did it, with his right foot out, left heel up. It turned Grayson Allen into a trending topic on Twitter, an ignominious YouTube sensation and the topic of conversation around the country.

Then, this past December, Duke suspended Allen after the third incident. Here’s what Coach K had to say after the latest trip: “We have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the incident involving Grayson Allen from last night’s game against Elon. As I stated last night, the incident was unacceptable and inexcusable. . . . As a program, we needed to take further steps regarding his actions that do not meet the standards of Duke Basketball. To that end, we have determined that Grayson will be suspended from competition for an indefinite amount of time.” And Coach K stripped Allen of his captainship.

Former Duke standout Jay Williams had this advice for Grayson Allen:  “Grayson Allen has a choice to make, the same one another former Duke guard had to make a long time ago. Will he learn from being forced to sit and watch? What happens next will define him.” And one ACC coach told ESPN’s Andy Katz that Allen needs help handling his actions. To say the least.

ACC commissioner John Swofford issued a statement supporting the move, calling sportsmanship “one of the core values of our league” and adding that the suspension “demonstrates adherence to this important principle.”

And here’s what Allen had to say for himself: “I made a really bad play. I’m sorry to him, Santa Ana ….. I’m sorry to the officials who had to call that. I’m sorry to my team. It was selfish and taking away from them. I’m not proud of that at all.”

Duke’s season depends on whether Grayson Allen can grow up. Yes, Duke made the right move suspending Grayson Allen, but it’s what happened during his short time away — and WHY he returned so soon — that will define a season for a team many thought would play for the title.

The question was asked, “how long should Grayson Allen sit?” The answer?  He sat one game. A whopping one game. Wow. He should have sat for much longer.  In hockey, if a player is tripped on a breakaway (with no opponents to pass other than the goaltender), a tripping call may result in a penalty shot for the tripped player. Nuff said.

Yes I believe in grace and mercy and redemption, but I also believe in judgement, and in this case, the punishment did not fit the crime.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand its dirty players. Right is right and wrong is wrong.  And Grayson Allen was wrong, three times over, and he got away with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Dean Smith Was “Daddy Dean”

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Coach Dean Smith was a father figure for nearly forty years. He was a coach who was more than a coach.  He was a father figure larger than life.  I remember going to University of Maryland Basketball games in the ‘80’s at Cole Field House and losing my voice cheering for my Terps and cheering against the Tar Heels and “El Deano” as he matched wits with Lefty Driesell . Those were the days.  

Dean Edwards Smith was originally from Emporia, Kansas, Smith and was called a “coaching legend” by the Basketball Hall of Fame. Smith was best known for his 36-year coaching tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Smith coached from 1961 to 1997 and retired with 879 victories, which was the NCAA Division I men’s basketball record at that time.

Smith’s North Carolina teams won two national championships and appeared in 11 Final Fours. Not too shabby. But more importantly, Coach Smith taught and trained his star players to be standout citizens. It is said that Dean was a better person than he was a coach. That should say it all.

“The Dean,” as he was affectionately called, coached a bastion of basketball greats such as  Larry Brown, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Phil Ford, Bob McAdoo, Billy Cunningham, Kenny Smith, Walter Davis, Jerry Stackhouse, Antawn Jamison, Rick Fox, Vince Carter, Scott Williams, Rasheed Wallace, and of course, Michael Jordan. To a man, friends and foes alike all had nothing but praise for the man who forever changed the face of college ball.

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While he was modest and moderate, his impact on the game of baseball and on the “game” of life for hundreds, yea even thousands of college basketball players, cannot be measured. His import cannot be massed. His impression will ever be missed and his influence will forever be magnified.

The tie-in is clear: we need fathers to “father” us. Mothers can’t do the things that fathers must do, and that is to provide a firm had and sure arm for their children.  And our Heavenly Father is our eternal example of what a loving father is. Those “things” that fathers must do includes giving and forgiving and correcting and consoling, just to name a few. 

And so hail to Dean Smith. And hail to all those fathers who are diligently doing their daddy duties. And oh that we had more fathers and father figures who would stay the course like Daddy Dean did.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

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End the evil of those who are wicked, and defend the righteous. For you look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God (Psalm 7:9, NLT)

Right and wrong are as opposite as night and day and are as contradictory as oil and water. Since they don’t mix, all of our mothers made sure to teach us this lesson: two wrongs don’t make a right, in sports and in life.  Going the wrong way, doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong words will invariably get you to the wrong place. To go right, you can’t do wrong. And you can’t go wrong when you’re committed to doing right. As Spike Lee taught us, we all need to “Do the Right Thing.” 

Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s a proverb used to rebuke or renounce wrongful conduct as a response to another’s transgression.   Coach Jim Boeheim unfortunately taught us this lesson once again. Syracuse had the ball, down 60-58 when star forward CJ Fair drove for an apparent tying layup. But official Tony Greene whistled Fair for charging — and Boeheim shot onto the court to argue. Greene slapped him with two technical fouls and ejected him. “I thought it was a block or a no-call,” Fair said. “I don’t think there was that much contact, either.” No contact? Not really, but the point was the refs call.

Right is always waiting for the opportunity to overcome wrong. And Coach Boeheim missed his latest opportunity. With 10.4 seconds left on the clock, and with Duke leading Syracuse 60-58, one of college basketball’s best games of the season ended with the Hall of Fame coach being ejected after he charged onto the court to argue a block/charge call.

And Coach Boeheim didn’t just charge onto the court, he “went off,” yelling and screaming and cursing and flaying his arms in protest. “I just thought that was the worst call of the year, that’s all,” Boeheim said. “I hated to see the game decided on that call.” Honestly, the call could have gone either way. At worst it was a bad call, at best it should have been a no-call.  But it was called, for better or for worse.

Right or wrong, we’ve all been taught not to argue with the refs, and not to react to a bad call. Just play the game.  With 10.4 seconds left, Syracuse could have played defense, or fouled a Duke player, in order to extend the game. Instead, Duke was awarded four foul shots. Duke made three of them and had possession of the ball. AND your coach was ejected. Game Over. The wrong reaction of Coach Boeheim allowed Duke to go right to the winners circle. Thanks coach.

Wrong is just that; it’s wrong. It can never amount to right, unless God works something out. And Joseph taught us this lesson. When he was wronged by his older, jealous brothers, he held his peace and did not retaliate. In the end, in the providence of God, the Sovereign Lord worked things out for good.  God can’t make evil good, but He can bring good out of evil.  To use Joseph’s words, “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20-21, RSV).

So don’t allow wrong to win the day. Don’t allow your emotions to get the best of you. Don’t melt down when you need to firm up. The problem of evil will not be overcome with more evil. Martin Luther King taught us that “those who assert that evil means can lead to good ends are deceiving themselves.” Amen. 

So remember, people will do you wrong, refs will make bad calls, and you will make mistakes yourself. Evil and wrong are with us, for now. But one day, God will put an end to all evil and to all wrong. The crooked will be made straight and the rough places will be made plain. So determine to overcome evil with good. Because two wrongs will never make a right.