You Should Join A Super Team!

Durant Finals MVP

Yes, you should join a super team. Everybody’s doin’ it, right? I mean anybody and everybody in the NBA is jumping ship and breaking rank and joining another team to make a super team. And why not? If KD did it, and Kevin Garnett before him did it, and of course LeBron did it (even though he says he didn’t), then why shouldn’t all of the other superstars do it?

One thing is for sure: super teams win. Durant proved it once again this season. The problem now is, who’s got the superlative super team? Just like there’s only one basketball to share on the court, there’s only one championship trophy; but with the Larry O’Brien, there ain’t no sharin’. 

Truth be told, the first super teams were back in the late 60’s when Wilt Chamberlain flew out of Philly and latched onto the Lakers to help Jerry West beat the Celtics (but they never did.)  Then, Dr. J left the ABA New Jersey Nets to join the 76ers.  They lost to Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and the Portland Trailblazers in 1977 and then lost to the Lakers twice, in 1980 and 1982. Then, the Sixers snatched Moses Malone from Houston to form, guess what, a Super Team!  With all stars like Doc and Moses and Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, the ’83 Sixers were truly a super team.

So fast forward to 2017, 40 years after Doc came to Philly. Now we have multiple super teams as a result of Kevin Durant going to the Warriors to beat the Cavs in this year’s finals.  Since Golden State has four bona fide all-stars, teams are scrambling this off season to grab as many available all-stars as they can to add to their roster in hopes of being a better team. Everybody now needs to be a super team in an effort to dethrone LeBron in the East and KD and Steph Curry in the West.

And just in case you’ve been vacationing on the back side of Siberia for the past week, here’s what’s been happening in NBA Free Agency:

Paul George left Indiana for OKC to play with Russell Westbrook.

Chris Paul left the LA Clippers for Houston to team with James Harden.

Jimmy Butler left Chicago for Minnesota to team with Karl Anthony Towns.

Gordon Hayward left Utah for Boston to play with Isiah Thomas and rookie phenom Jayson Tatum.

JJ Reddick left the LA Clippers to join Philly and their collective cash of young talent, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.

AND with all that, the Warriors still got better. Not to be outdone, the defending champions coaxed Nick Young from the Lakers for a one year deal.

 And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So what about you?  What super team are you going to join? No one wants to lose, so why stay with a losing team when you can be on a winning team right now? And why play on a “good” team when you can play on a great team?

Team Trinity from Heaven is a super team. This team wins all of the time, and can defeat any foe.  This team has been winning and whipping and walloping opponents for centuries on end. God the Father, God the Son and yes, God the Holy Spirit have teamed since eternity past and this team is built to win now, and for all time. All we have to do is sign up and sign on, and learn, and execute, the game plan. That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.

So why not sign up with this sacred, super team today? You’re destined to win with the Godhead. With the triumphant Trinity, you can and will defeat dastardly, diabolical, demonic denizens if you only stop trying to be a superhero by trying to do it all by yourself. 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, with all of his triple doubles this past season, proved one thing: that way just won’t work.

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.

Dwyane Wade, Sports, and the Madness of Gun Violence

Dwyane Wade et al at 2016 espys

It’s all so sad.  It makes you so mad. And it’s gotten so bad.  And it makes no sense; none whatsoever. Dwyane Wade, NBA All Star and recent Chicago Bulls addition, tweeted this about the accidental shooting of his cousin, Nykea Aldridge:

The city of Chicago is hurting. We need more help & more hands on deck. Not for me and my family but for the future of our world. The YOUTH!” adding in a following tweet, “These young kids are screaming for help!!! #EnoughIsEnough.”

And earlier this summer, Dwyane spoke out against the deaths of young black men across the country at the hands of white police officers. The 2016 ESPY Awards show honoring the year’s best athletes and sports moments opened on a somber note, with Wade and fellow NBA stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul standing four abreast on stage addressing the recent shootings of blacks by white police officers.

Yes “BlackLivesMatter” but, all lives matter, right? No police officer should shoot an unarmed man or woman, black or white — or Asian or Latino, for that matter. And the life of Nykea Aldridge, cousin of Dwyane Wade, matters too.

The intersecting issues of race and sports and gun violence all collided in a head on collision yet again when a mother was gunned down on the South Side of Chicago. We know her name because she just happened to have a famous cousin who is an NBA All Star who just came home to play for his hometown team.

And so the question is, “Can any good come out of this?” Maybe, just maybe, more mentors will spend more meaningful time with young men like the ones who pulled the trigger. I know I want to mentor more young men, and the sooner the better. These young men certainly did not mean to kill another innocent bystander, a mother of four, but they did. Is it because they apparently had nothing else better to do? God forbid.

Here’s how the most recent incident of gun violence was reported by MSN:

“CHICAGO — NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin was an innocent bystander, police said, pushing her baby in a stroller near a Chicago school where she intended to register her children when she was fatally shot Friday.

Nykea Aldridge’s famous relative tweeted to his nearly 6 million followers about her death, saying Friday it was an “act of senseless gun violence” and posting Saturday morning that his hometown of Chicago needs “more help& more hands on deck.” Wade ended both days of tweets with the hashtag “EnoughIsEnough.”

The 32-year-old mother of four recently relocated to an area on the city’s South Side, her family said. She was near the school, which is about a mile and a half southwest of the University of Chicago, when two males walked up and fired shots at a third man but hit Aldridge in the head and arm. She wasn’t the intended target, police said.

Police said Saturday they were questioning three “people of interest” in the shooting but had no suspects in custody.

Chicago has been plagued by gun violence for years, especially in a few South and West Side neighborhoods. This July alone, there were 65 homicides — the most that month since 2006.

Wade, whose charitable organization, Wade’s World Foundation, does community outreach in the Chicago area, signed with the Chicago Bulls in July after 13 years with the Miami Heat. He and his mother, pastor Jolinda Wade, participated Thursday via satellite in a town hall meeting in Chicago on gun violence hosted by ESPN.”

DWadeinBulls Uniform

My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough,” Wade tweeted Friday.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/dwyane-wades-cousin-fatally-shot-pushing-baby-in-stroller/ar-BBw6Ebl?li=BBnbcA1&srcref=rss

Why Does Free Agency Cost So Much?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors - Game Seven

Kevin Durant is now a Warrior. Duane Wade is now a Bull.  And Derek Rose is now a Knick. Paul Gasol is now in San Antonio. Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston and Dwight Howard is in Atlanta instead of Houston. Whew! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

News Flash: everything that’s supposed to be “free,” aint — including “Free Agency.”  Every team that lost a player is either hurting or scrambling. Some teams may have gotten better, but many teams certainly got worse, and all teams are spending money like its water. So this is a good thing?

The Oklahoma City Thunder will never be the same. And some say that OKC will never rise again.  Truth be told, some teams, especially OKC, will falter and flounder and stumble and fumble for years to come. Because you don’t win and you can’t win without playmaking players. Your either draft them or trade for them or get them via “Free Agency.”  But at what cost?

I get it that players have the right to move from team to team and get more money than ever before. I do. I absolutely do. But I’m also an old fashioned, fuddy-dud when it comes to keeping a team together.  Because winning is all about chemistry.

OKC could have or should have said to Durant, “We’re committed to you and to winning so we’re going to go out and get the best players to complement you and Westbrook to make sure we have the best chance of winning a championship.” Maybe then Durant would have stayed with the Thunder and he may well have won Oklahoma City an NBA Championship.  But he’s not, and he won’t. And the cost to Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Thunder is incalculable.

So what’s the lesson to be learned? What’s the moral of this story? Where’s the hidden truth in all of this?

Life is about choices and decisions and options and alternatives. And we all hope and pray that we’ll make the right choice and the correct decision and pick the right option and choose the best alternative all the time.  Wishful thinking. But thankfully God is so merciful that He can take even our bad choices and turn them around and allow good to come out of them.  

I’ve found out that some things you pay for twice, and others you pay for over and over again. Some decisions cost you big time. And the sting remains overtime. With some selections you lose friends and make enemies. It’s just like striking out at the plate. But other times you hit one out of the park on a 3-2 count. And sometimes, you get much more than you asked for and you pay next to nothing.

So here’s to making the right choices, every time, all the time, and trusting God to fix the wrong and make it right. Because everything costs something, even when you don’t have to pay.

Why Was I Doing My Taxes Instead of Watching Kobe Score 60 Points In His Last Home Game?, a.k.a., The NBA Now Stands for “Not Bad Anymore”

Kobe-Bryant-Last-game-in-the-NBA

I don’t have a good answer. I don’t. But my taxes are done and I don’t owe. That’s what matters. But I missed the game. Kobe’s LAST GAME! Seriously!? So . . .

The NBA is BACK! The Warriors broke the Bulls record for wins in a season, Steph Curry broke his own record for 3 Pointers in a season, and Kobe went out with a bang.

First, the Golden State Warriors have indeed made the NBA fun again. They play with pizazz and shoot with sass and pass with panache. They’re the golden team from the Golden State that is sitting on a golden goose of a future if they can keep this pace up. They’ve beaten the NBA’s best, and so the only drama for the playoffs is to see if San Antonio can give them a run in a seven game series or if Cleveland can in fact reach the Finals for the relished rematch we all rave to see.

Steph Curry, the darling denizen of the NBA’s elite echelon, is only 28 years old. He’s got more than a few good years left on those legs, and he can carry his team like only Mike and Kobe could (with an honorable mention to LeBron and Bird and “Magic” and of course Wilt “The Stilt” and Bill Russell). That said, His team won 73 games. Do they have it in them to win another title? That is the ONLY question. But it’s a question worth tuning in for to find the answer.

And finally, Kobe. Yes Kobe. His sayonara send-off tour got more press than his play, but his play ruled the day on the last night of his consummate and accomplished career. Kobe knocked down 60 – that’s right 60 – points in his final act at Staples Center. What a way to go. And I didn’t see it. But we went over that already. Anyway, Kobe couldn’t miss, and Utah couldn’t stop him, so we had one of the most epic and epochal ends to an ecstatic and euphoric 20-year career.

Kobe scored 33,643 points over 20 seasons, the third most all-time. He was surpassed only by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Famer Karl Malone. Mike came in at number four, and Wilt Chamberlain is No. 5 on the all-time points list. Not bad company. In fact, it’s rarified air indeed. AND, he scored the most points in his now legendary last game. In other words, Kobe scored more points in his last game than any other NBA player, EVER! By Far! And I missed the game! (As you can see, I’m still not over it yet). And so, like him or lump him, you cannot deny him his place in the annals of basketball lore.

So, the lesson is this: just when you think things are bad and bottoming out, here comes a Steph Curry to carry the League. Just when you think Kobe doesn’t care and the NBA is not relevant, you have records being ripped and story book endings being written. It just goes to show ya, the tango of sports and life are inseparable, not insufferable.

The Golden State Warriors: When Good Is Michael Jackson “BAD!”

Warriors-Bulls

Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors just beat the best team (next to them ) in the NBA by being bigger and better and “badder” down the stretch. And in so doing, they broke their 33-game losing streak in San Antonio and the Spurs 2015-2016 home winning streak. Yes, just like when I came up, good is “BAD,” just like Michael Jackson said:

Because I’m bad, I’m bad – come on
You know I’m bad, I’m bad – you know it
You know I’m bad, I’m bad – you know it, you know.

Yes, good is “bad.” In sports and in life, it’s bad to be bad, and really good is not just good. Really good is a notch and a neck and a nose better than the rest. As another iconic, albeit sexist song from the ‘80s said, the Warriors are “a bad mama jama; just as fine as they can be.” And that’s what we all should strive to see. Not just to be good, but to be better than just good.

So here’s to the “Dubs:” the Warriors just tied Michael Jordan and the ’95-96 Chicago Bulls for the best record in the regular season. And on Wednesday night they can break the record in their regular-season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies and notch 73 wins against just 9 loses in a season. That’s just not being good; that’s being “bad to the bone.”

Golden State Is Undefeated!

Golden State SI Cover

The Golden State Warriors are undefeated and undeterred and are winning and are playing like warlords on a warpath. These 2015 Warriors have sprinted their way out ahead of the NBA pack in defense of their 2015 title. Stephen Curry and his fellow phenoms are playing like they’re on an inevitable track to repeat last year’s heroics en  route to win another Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Yes, once again, Golden State is a golden goose, as they are now 14-0 and mowing over and plowing under every team in their path. Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team coached by “Dr.” Phil Jackson blew through the league and set a record for regular season wins with a 72-10 high water mark. Some say that this will never happen again. Enter Steph Curry and this Warriors team.

The Warriors are winning in wonderful ways. I stayed up way past my bedtime last night and watched them defeat Chicago and I was not disappointed. ‘Da Bulls gave them a run for their money, and were actually winning with time running out but the Warriors won running away. It was awesome to watch a REGULAR SEASON NBA game in November that actually meant something. But how are they doing it?

The Warriors are winning and grinning and thinning the ranks of the NBA. They’re winning and having fun doing it. For them it’s not work, it’s play. And as a wise old pastor once told me, when you make your work your play, you’ll never work a day in your life.  The closest teams to the Warriors are LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Timmy Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, both sitting at 9-3.  And at the other end of the spectrum, my sad and sorry Sixers are 0-13. They’re struggling and bumbling and can’t win for loosing. They can’t figure out how to win a game yet. In other words, winning is elusive and losing is effortness. Oh well. We’re rebuilding, right?

So, this season is all about the Warriors and how they will win another title. And how they will mow and plow through the rest of the league to do it. It’s a wonderful thing to watch, because there’s nothing like watching poetry in motion. There’s nothing like watching a pro play at the highest level and there’s nothing any opponent can do about it. They can’t stop them and they can’t beat them and they can’t defeat them. At least not yet.

 So let’s learn a lesson from the league’s best. This Thanksgiving, let’s have fun living. Let’s have fun giving, and let’s not forget forgiving.   These three are a must, because the only way to defeat the enemy and to win in life is to enjoy living, to employ giving and to be ever forgiving.