The “I Promise School:” LeBron Will Not Shut Up and Dribble

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LeBron James is more than a basketball player, an NBA World Champion and a perenial Allstar. He is the driving force behind a brand new, cutting edge school for underprivileged inner city kids.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, journalist Laura Ingraham sought to rebuke the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for “talking politics” and being active off of the basketball court. She had the audacity to tell LeBron to “shut up and dribble.” Yet LeBron continues to defy the naysayers and do more than dribble.

LeBton’s “I Promise School” in Ackron, Ohio is a wonder to behold. And LeBron deserves all of the credit in the world for giving back to his home town and the community that he came from. LeBron hasn’t forgotten his roots and the rough road he had on his way out of poverty and adversity.

It just goes to show that sports and life go hand in hand. Being active socially and civicly and even politically should not and even cannot be divorced from sports. LeBron demonstrated that you can translate and transfer your influence from the hardwood and the diamond and the gridiron to where the rubber meets the road; everyday life.

We all would do well to follow LeBron’s shinnimg example.

Can LeBron and the Lakers Make Magic? (look like a genius?)

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LeBron James just signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, and now Magic Johnson and the team from Tinsel town seems to be one free agent away from building the talent that can contest and wage war with Warriors for supremacy in the NBA’s Western Conference. Wow.

LeBron James chose LA for obvious reasons. One, he lives there. Two, he wants to stay there. Three, and this is the one most of us question, he thinks he can win another championship there.  We’ll see.  The Lakers were not good last season, but now the fans are dancing in the streets. And now they must go from not so good to great overnight if the Lakers are to return to their former glory.

And that’s where we all want to be; back to the glory days of our youth and our better days when we were at our peak and played at our finest. LeBron’s no spring chicken, but he’s also proven that he, like fine wine, is just getting better with age. And that’s the other lesson. Can we all get better instead of getting worse? Can we improve our game and not stay the same but instead progress and proceed in spite of the wear and tear of everyday life? 

LeBron showed us that it can be done, because he did it in Cleveland. Now, we’ll see if he can stage a comeback and turn the Lakers franchise around. Now, we’ll see if he can play with Lonzo Ball and Brandam Ingram and Kyle Kuzma and make them better players.

Now, we’ll see if LeBron can pull a rabbit out of Magic’s hat in LA.

Kawhi Leonard: Demand A Trade

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LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This means that the King is now an unrestricted free agent. While this is not a big surprise, what happens next could be.  The Sixers, yes the Philadelphia 76ers, are in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Reportedly, the Sixers can pretty reasonably create the cap space to just sign him outright, but that’s not the big news either. Here’s the skinny from CBS Sports staff writer, Brad Botkin:

“Where this really gets interesting is Philly has a very attractive package to offer for Leonard, with reports out there that the Spurs could be interested in a deal involving Dario Saric and Robert Covington. San Antonio would clearly prefer to trade Kawhi to the East, even if they’ve predictably backed off their stance of ruling out a trade with a team from the Western Conference, and if he were to end up in Philly, if the Sixers could live with the risk of him being a potential one-year rental, suddenly James joining Philly would become his only real chance to play on a super team next year.

Imagine the possibilities of a lineup including James, Kawhi, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Yes, James would have to play off the ball more as Simmons is not equipped at all to do so with his inability to shoot outside 10 feet, but from every other perspective, this is a juggernaut. Defensive versatility. Playmaking everywhere. This would be an incredible team. Keep an eye on this.”

So, it seems that Kawhi, who has done well in San Antonio under the reigning dean of NBA coaches, Greg Popovich, is “demanding a trade.” Not overtly or vehemently, but he seems to want out of San Antonio nonetheless.  So what’s the spiritual lesson to be learned here?”

If you are not victorious in any and every situation in your life, you should demand a trade. If your situation is not to your liking, demand a trade. Is the job stressful? Demand a trade!  Is your money funny?  Demand a trade. Is your current station or status in life not working?  Demand a trade. You might not get out of the situation, but you can demand that your situation improves and gets better than it is.

A better situation is what we all strive and struggle for and want and wish for, right? An improved and enhanced life and lifestyle should always be the aim and ambition of our hearts. So, in prayer, beseech and believe Heaven to trade your stress and strain for a bigger and better and higher and healthier situation than the one you’ve got right now.  Stop settling for the mild and mediocre. Stop accepting less that what you deserve. Stop letting the abundant life that Jesus promised slip away. Just trust Him.

And demand a trade.

Are You A Warrior?

Kevin Durant is a Warrior. Since he came into the NBA and especially since he came to Oakland in the summer of 2016, Durant has proven that he has guts and grit, boldness and backbone. He’s as cool as the underside of a pillow and smooth like silk with ice water in his veins; and he’s not afraid to pull the trigger.

Kevin Durant is a warrior with grit. And the key word here is “grit.”  To grit ones teeth means to clench them together. In sports and in life, when you  clench your teeth, it means that you bear down but you don’t buckle under; you may bend but you don’t break; you bounce back from way back in order to come up big when the game is on the line and performance matters most.

Kevin Durant is a winning warrior. He’s a champion in the arena who is mentally tough and knows what it takes to win. A warrior is a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.  Once again, Kevin Durant did just that as he torched the Cleveland Cavaliers with 43 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in the NBA Finals, specifically Game 3, when Klay Thompson was cool and Steph Curry was cold. But when Golden State needed a leader and a scorer and a warrior, the Warriors turned to the former NBA MVP to save the day.

Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior. And he’s shown great vigor and valor when it was needed most. LeBron is also a warrior. This season, perhaps more than any other season, he’s had a herculean playoff run. But the ride is over. LeBron’s time in Cleveland is coming to a close, and some say his career may be winding down as well. And it’s another warrior that’s aggressively and unapologetically throwing down hammer and pinning LeBron to the mat.

And so the question is this: are you a warrior? Are you living with vigor and valor, carrying teammates on your back and scoring at will, doing all of the little things that it takes to win at the highest level? The lesson is literally laid out before us in plain sight: stop trying and start doing. After watching LeBron score 40 points a game nearly night in and night out just for something to do, and now seeing Kevin Durant slam the door on LeBron, it gives us gumption and gusto to live our lives like warriors.

Sooooooo, are you a warrior? Do you have the faith and the courage to take and make the big shot when your life is on the line? With the help of Heaven, you can.

 

JR Smith: How To Lose Game 1 of the NBA Finals

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What can you say? What IS there to say?  After a mistake or a mental lapse or a complete meltdown, what should be said? Sometimes, saying nothing is the right thing to say. Because there is nothing that JR Smith can say to excuse his behavior. The more he tried to explain, the worse it got. I saw the game. I saw Smith’s mouth form the words, “I thought we were ahead” to LeBron. And so did millions of other people. So no matter how you slice it, it was a mistake beyond words.

Smith dribbled the ball out to half-court, clearly thinking that the Cavs had the lead. By the time he realized that the game was tied it was too late. LeBron James was furious with his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate for dribbling out the clock and clearly not knowing the score at the end of regulation.

The game went into overtime and instead of LeBron James finishing an all-time great NBA Finals performance by stealing a win on the road, the Warriors dominated the extra period to hold home court.

Yes, we’ve all made fun of JR Smith dribbling out the game with 4.7 still left on the clock in regulation. Yes LeBron was furious, and for good reason. And yes the Cavaliers could have stolen Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals from the Golden State Warriors. But noooooo — JR Smith didn’t have the awareness needed at a critical juncture and now he’ll have find a way to atone for his sin.  And this is where theology comes in. Only God can truly atone, because atonement is a job for God. We just have to trust Him to do it His way.

Yes we’ve been hard on Smith. Yes it was a boneheaded play. And yes the Cavs blew a golden opportunity. Ever been there? We all have.  That’s the lesson that sports teaches. Our failures don’t have to be final. Our foolhardiness does not have to define us. It only does if we let it.

The 2018 NBA Finals: Leftovers Warmed Over

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We’ve seen this movie before, right? I mean, remakes are great, but by the time they got to Rocky XV, I fell asleep during the credits– the PRE credits.  I love watching a favorite movie again and again, don’t you? (Matrix fans unite!) But some people want something different all of the time. Don’t get me wrong, because the Warriors and the Cavs absolutely deserve to be in the NBA Finals.  Correction — LeBron, a.k.a. King James and Steph Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and all of the rest of the Warriors deserve to be in the NBA Finals, with an honorable mention to Jeff Green of the Cavs for the way he played and helped LeBron in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

If the 2018 NBA Finals are must see TV,  why are some people tired of eating Cavs/Warriors leftovers? Becasue they want something different. Their tired of eating manna every morining (or every year).  Get it?  The spiritual tie in is so surreal. We get to watch high level, high caliber basketball, yet we’re tired of the same ole, same ole. But it’s still good. It’s absolutely still good.

Oh well. You can’t please everybody. So the Warriors and the Cavs will play and we’ll watch the Warriors win another Larry O’Brien Trophy.  Right? 

So who ya got?

The King Still Reigns

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LeBron James is still the reigning king of the NBA. Period. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, LeBron is getting better with age.  If you love sports, like I do, and you practically loathed LeBron, like I did, after seeing yet another virtuoso performance from LeBron James, you have to at least consider changing your vote for the G.O.A.T.  

Some said that he was the best ever at 20. Now he’s 33 and he’s arguably better than ever. Some say that James has been equally mystical and egotistical, and shall we say downright cavalier?  But he has also earned the right to brag and to boast, especially after his performance in the playoffs this year with multiple 40 point performances. But for now we’ll focus on yet another Game 7 masterpiece.

LeBron single handedly willed his team to a 87-79 Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics ON THE ROAD in front of a harsh and hostile Boston Garden crowd (ok TD Garden, but for us old heads, it’s still Boston Garden).  James played in his 100th game of the season and logged a full 48 minutes. He finished with 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting with 15 rebounds and 9 assists, another near triple double. And it seemed like an “off” night because of tiredness that certainly led to uncharacteristic turnovers and missed free frows. But James also had timely blocks that help bolster the Cavs “D” which stifled the Celtics down the stretch.

LeBron James snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as the “C”s showed that they just didn’t have quite enough to dethrone a destined and determined James who finally got some help from his supporting cast.  Jeff Green, a Cleveland reserve, nearly stole the show from LeBron by scoring 19 points and grabbing 9 rebounds to give the Cavaliers a stunning Game 7 win when Boston had gone undefeated at home in the playoffs. This is the same Jeff Green that had open heart surgery a few years ago. Open Heart Surgery!  And the win was even the more memorable and remarkable because James did it by winning twice after Kevin Love — maybe the most capable of his otherwise underwhelming supporting cast — was lost to a concussion early in Game 6.

Do I still love Michael? Of course. And Kobe won five championships. Five.  Magic and Bird were phenomes, but what we are seeing from the reigning king is nothing short of legendary. He’s going to the NBA Finals for the eighth season in a row. Eight in a row? Who’s done that before? Nobody. Yes I keep going back to Michael’s six-for-six Finals victories, accomplished via two three-peats, but eight Finals appearances in a row? Even his harshest critics, myself included, can’t argue with that.

AND . . . the Cavs went down 3-2 in the series, with Boston playing great ball and their rookie sensation Jayson Tatum having the best playoff’s by a rookie since Magic 38 years ago. But LeBron found a way to win, again. It remains to be seen what will happen in the Finals, but we may well  see the Warriors and the Cavaliers competing for the crown one more time.

And so the lesson is crystal clear. Once again, LeBron James proved the doubters wrong and proved that patience works experience, and experience breads hope. Because of our experience, we know what God can do.  We know that our Lord is still the King. He still rules and reigns. And because our Lord is still the King, you may not be favored, and you may not have the best team, and you may not play pretty, but you can still find a way to win.

You absolutely can.