Your Enemy Brings Out Your Best: Duke-UNC

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Duke defeated UNC last night 92-90 IN OT in yet another instant classic between the two ACC basketball powers.  Some say that they play better when they play each other. Some call it “The Blue Blood Rivalry.” And the tried truth taken from this tale is that your enemy brings out the best in you. In fact, that’s your enemy’s job.

Duke and North Carolina are arch rivals, sworn enemies, and fierce foes. In other words, they just don’t like each other.  But it’s the tension and the friction between them that makes them better when they play each other.

 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 15 Final Fours; UNC 18. 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 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 you’re your 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.

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.