Durant and Warriors: “Be The Best You Can Be”

Warriors

That’s what the Golden State Warriors are showing us and teaching us; they’re schooling us on how to be the best. They are undefeated in these 2017 Playoffs. They are winning games by double digit margins. They have the best shooters, and they are playing the best defense. The Warriors won Game One of the 2017 NBA Finals 113 – 91, and they won Game Two 132 – 113. That’s pretty impressive.

After Golden State’s Game 2 thrashing of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, the questions abound:

How is it that last year the Warriors lost Game 7 at home in a close, contested contest that saw LeBron James lead a pretty good team against a really good team and win? How is it that the best team (a 73 game regular season win squad) in the NBA last year got even better? How is it that this year the Kevin Durant led Warriors, made an already great team an instantaneous juggernaut? And how is it that the Cavaliers are playing really close but then are getting really blown out?

Now, the questions get fewer and finer; can the visibly vulnerable and discernably dejected Cavaliers mount a charge against the mighty Warriors? Can the defending champions (that’s right, they ARE the defending champions) summon the stamina to withstand this relentless, oncoming tide of three pointers and pick and rolls and more points than they can find? And can LeBron save face and win at least one game? I say no.

The Warriors look borderline unstoppable through two games of the 2017 NBA Finals. And, to add insult to injury to the rest of the League, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the Dubs looked poised to dominate the Association for the foreseeable future.

The Warriors are dead set on proving to the basketball world in general and to the sports universe in specific that last year’s loss was a fluke. The fact that they should have won is fairly debatable. The fact that they didn’t win is forever undisputable. But now these Durant led Warriors are bent on proving that they are the undisputed heavyweight champions of the basketball world.

Not even the great and mighty LeBron James can carry his team up this mountain. Not this time.When these Warriors play their best they’re at their best, and they’re simply unbeatable. Period. 

And the same goes for you and me too. When we are at our best and when we do our best and when we display our best, we are relying on God and not on our own strength. When we “walk by faith and not by sight;” when our “love is sincere and we hate what is evil and cling to what is good” and when we “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and don’t lean to our own understanding,” we are at our best and we are the best we can be.

Wham, Bam, Thank You Cam!

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Cam Newton is for real. I mean, for real, for real. He’s certainly not a one and done deal, or a one night stand, that’s for sure. They way things are going for him, Cam should shine in the NFL for a long, long time.

In the NFC Championship Game yesterday, he lead his Carolina Panthers to an annihilation of the Arizona Cardinals, the No. 2 team in the NFC, 49-15, and as they say, it wasn’t that close. The Panthers won by 34 points, and they didn’t let up in the second half like they did against the Seahawks to leave little to no question about how good they really are.

Cam is a ham. Yes he is. He runs the inside rim of the stadium after games and slaps hands with the fans, and he celebrates after touchdowns more than most.  But when you beat up and beat down your opponent like he beat Arizona, you feel that you have the right to flaunt and to taunt, even if you’re not supposed to. The domination was so bad that it was like a crucifixion, and as crucifixions go, it wasn’t pretty. But Cam the ham is the fruit of Cam being the sacrificial lamb.

At one point in his career, Cam was in a jam. Or two. He’s worked his way back from being kicked off of one team and playing for another unknown junior college team to winning the Heisman Trophy to being the No. 1 Draft Pick in the NFL to being on the verge of winning the Super Bowl. At age 26. So before you damn and sham Cam, walk a mile in his shoes.

On November 21, 2008, Newton was arrested for receiving stolen property after purchasing a stolen laptop computer from another University of Florida student. He was subsequently suspended from the team after the laptop was found to be in his possession.

In January 2009, Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, to play for head coach Brad Franchione, son of Dennis Franchione. That fall he led his team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship, throwing for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushing for 655 yards. He was named a Junior College (juco) All-America honorable mention and was the most recruited juco quarterback in the country.

Then Auburn “came a calling,” and Cam went on to win the Heisman and the National Championship. The Tigers beat Oregon 22–19 to win the BCS National Championship in 2011. Newton threw for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed 22 times for 65 yards, though he lost a fumble that later allowed Oregon to tie the game with limited time remaining. Once Auburn got the ball back, Newton drove the Tigers down the field to win the game on Wes Byrum’s last-second field goal.

One major story of the next two weeks leading up to the Panthers’ shot at a Lombardi Trophy against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl L will be how much people hate him. That’s been the case throughout his career, from those who saw him as an inevitable bust to those who resent his “antics” and his celebrations. But guess what? That shouldn’t be a surprise to Cam.

In the game of life, we all have haters and helpers, supporters and detractors. Cam’s got critics and skeptics as well as backers and boosters. You can’t have one without the other. It’s just like that. So the lesson is, just get used to it. Cam recognizes that everyone is not in his corner, but that does not faze him or raze him or daze him. Good for him.

Cam has risen and rocketed to sports stardom after being kicked to the curb and thrown from the train. And as heroes go, he’s garnered faithful fans and frightful foes along the way. Yet through it all, he has not bowed to the pressure of doubt but has allowed the force of his faith, and the attacks of his allies and his antagonists alike, to fuel his fire.

Go Cam.

Decisions, TKO’s and Knockouts

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Everybody loves a mixed metaphor, right? Right. Well here’s one for the ages. Boxing terms for how to win in the ring are: 1) By Decision; 2) by Technical Knock-Out; and 3) By Knockout. Last night, in the Sweet 16, No. 1 and undefeated Kentucky KO’ed, decisioned and TKO’ed, i.e., they utterly destroyed West Virginia. The score after about 8 minutes was 18-2; the score at half-time was 44-18, and the final score was 78 – 39. That’s a margin of 39 points, and it wasn’t that close. One sports writer said that it was a “public reprimand.” That, sports fans, is a win by decision, technical knock out AND by a knockdown knockout.

Most everybody had Kentucky winning, but not by 39 points! We all thought that West Virginia would give Kentucky a game; but after  their brash and boastful freshman point guard boldly made a moronic miscue with his mouth, it was more than over before the game even began.

So here’s what happened. Freshman guard Daxter Miles Jr. declared that his team would beat Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. OK. So if that wasn’t dumb enough, the WAY he said it was even dumber. Dumb and dumber, right? The poor, misguided kid from West Virginia said this, and I quote:

[I] salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1.

Talk about being a false prophet. Chris Chase from www.USA.com writes “For The Win.” In his blog, Chris said that there are three rules for making sports predictions as an athlete:

  1. Don’t make predictions.
  2. If you’re going to make a prediction, be the best player on your team about to play in a game against an evenly matched opponent.
  3. Ignore No. 2 and only pay attention to No. 1.

Daxter Miles Jr., (did I say he was a FRESHMAN, meaning he’s got more in his heart than he has between the ears in his head), disobeyed all three of these rules during a talk with the media on Wednesday, making a guarantee that the undefeated Kentucky team, to whom he gave “props” and a “salute” to, would be 36-1 after his Mountaineers were done with them on Thursday night. Wrong answer. And the sad part is that Miles didn’t ever score! Not ‘nare a point! Pitiful.

You can play hard and play smart and just plain play, and still lose. But West Virginia neither played hard nor smart, and got obliterated in the process. I mean! West Virginia got beat up and beat down and beat all around from the jump. Miles’ mouth got his team beat badly, and it didn’t’ have to go down that way. Oh yes, West Virginia probably would have lost to Kentucky, but not like that! It was a good ‘ole fashioned whuppin, and all West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins could do was watch.

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Kentucky is not just a good team, they’re a VERY good team, and some would even say they’re a great team; maybe and possibly the best college team ever? That’s fairly debatable. And for West Virginia to act arrogant and virulent was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It was like an angry alley cat playing with a rag doll. I mean, the game, and I stayed up to watch this one, was like watching a senior beat up on a sixth grader. It was like the Varsity playing the middle school intramural team. It was like the jocks verses the nerds — with no pads — in the back parking lot littered with broken bottles, bashed in bear cans and busted bricks. And to return to our mixed metaphor, it was like a heavy weight going 15 rounds with a fly weight, minus the mercy rule. In other words, it was pretty ugly.

And so the moral of the story is that “discretion is the better part of valor,” which is usually taken to mean that caution is better than rash courage or that discretion is the best kind of courage. We take this from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I when Prince Hal finds the cowardly Falstaff pretending to be dead on the battlefield, the prince assumes he has been killed. After the prince leaves the stage, Falstaff rationalizes “The better part of Valour, is Discretion; in the which better part, I have saved my life.”

So let’s all learn the lesson from Daxter Miles, Jr.; being bold doesn’t mean you have to be stupid. Do your talking on the court.

I’m just sayin’.