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.

You Are A No. 1 Pick

SI NBA Draft Pics

On this the evening of the NBA Draft Lottery, thoughts of being chosen and selected and overlooked and left out come to mind.  We all want to be a part and participate in something big and meaningful.  But we can’t get  there on our own. We all need to be selected.

 Think about it: only a small, rare, select few athletes are in the No. 1 Pick Club. And who was the biggest, baddest and best NBA No. 1 pick of them all? That’s fairly debatable.  Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Iverson (yes Iverson), and of course LeBron, come to mind. 

As for you and me, we need not lament if we were never picked first on the playground to play pickup games, or if even now if we’re not anyone’s favorite.  In the eyes of God, we all find grace and favor.

So never no mind what people say. You only need to know what God says about you. You are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us. You are the head and not the tail. You are strong in the Lord. You are a child of the King. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own special selection. You are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth.

In God’s eyes, first and foremost, you are His greatest love, joy and concern.

Can Magic Pull A Rabbit Out of His Hat?

magic-johnson 

Is it Magic or is it just make-believe? Is it live or is it Memorex? (Remember that one?) Is it possible or is it just probable that Magic Johnson can turn the Lakers around?  And soon?

 The LA Lakers are 19- 42, tied for second to last place In the Western Conference. The Lakers Organization, and Laker Nation, and everyone living in Southern Cal are used to winning basketball games, and NBA Championships, in June. The Lakers have a long and storied history of success, dating way back. Jerry West won. Wilt Won. Kareem clobbered. Magic and then Kobe (and don’t forget Shaquille O’Neal) all won multiple championships and have multiple rings.

But can Magic work a miracle? Can he be the savior and save this sinking, stinking, reeking and reeling team in need of more than a trim here and there? Yes they have young Luke Skywalker, err . . . I mean, Luke Walton on board, plus several young promising players like D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram; but . . .  The Lakers have room to grow as they have nowhere to go but up. However, it will be a steep climb for Johnson, who has no NBA front-office experience, to turn this young core into a championship team.

So, the question is this: can Earvin “Magic” Johnson sprinkle some pixy dust and wave his magic wand and pull a rabbit out of the hat?  The Lakers sure do hope so. 

So, if you missed it, here’s the news flash:

“The Los Angeles Lakers announced that they hired Magic Johnson to become president of basketball operations, firing GM Mitch Kupchak and Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss.

The move comes weeks after the Lakers named Johnson an advisor to the team. Shortly after, Johnson admitted he would like a chance to “call the shots.”

In a statement announcing the hire, Lakers president Jeanie Buss said, “I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again.”

Johnson said in the statement, “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

 Go Magic. We’re all pulling for ya.

It’s Unanimous! Curry Wins The 2016 NBA MVP Award

Steph Curry Looks Up

It’s unanimous! Steph Curry is the best player on the best team in the best conference. He’s simply the best. He’s better than all the rest. He’s worked hard and he’s played smart and he’s retained the right and he deserves the distinction of being decorated King Curry – again. Move over King James; another prince and lord has solidified his rule and reign over the basketball world.

Not Michael nor “Magic” nor Wilt Chamberlain nor Willis Reed nor Bill Russell nor Larry Bird nor Julius Erving nor Moses Malone nor Isaiah Thomas nor Kevin Durant nor King James himself – none of them won the NBA MVP award on a unanimous ballot. NONE of ‘EM! Yet here comes this fair skinned, slight of build, youngish and youthful, boyish and boy like blessing to the NBA, and he takes it by storm. He’s won an NBA title, back-to-back MVP Awards, and he’s only 28!

Curry is seen in the photo above, looking up and pointing up. What an example for all of us to follow. I believe this is one of the reasons why he’s as blessed and as beloved as he is. And to top it all off, to show you how humble and heartwarming he is, Curry spent most of his acceptance speech emotionally thanking his wife Ayesha. Here’s what he said at the MVP presser in Oakland:

None of this is possible without you. You’ve given me the opportunity to go out here and work as hard as I do, spend the hours I need to do at the gym, during practice, in games, on the road – all the while holding down the house and doing the little things that keep our family going.

Wow. What a class act.

And here’s what the sports and basketball and NBA pundits are saying about Curry:

“Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was officially named the 2015-16 Most Valuable Player on Tuesday, and with that he earned another distinction: Curry is the first unanimous MVP winner in the award’s 61-year history, receiving all 131 first-place votes. 

The official announcement came on Tuesday, but the results have been all but locked for months. Curry’s shooting arm permanently etched this Warriors team into the annals of NBA history, as Curry led Golden State to the league’s best-ever regular season record (73-9) along with a host of other firsts and bests.

The stats are stunning. With a left-wing, step-back, defender-in-his-face three pointer in a March 7 game against the Orlando Magic, Curry nailed his 300th three of the season. That mark alone was considered unbelievable, as no other player had ever hit more than 269 in a year before 2015-2016. And the one other player who had reached that tally was Ray Allen — the man.”

“Stephen Curry celebrated early reports of his second consecutive MVP award by pouring in 40 points, including an NBA record 17 in overtime, to carry the Warriors to a dramatic comeback win over the Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. The victory pushed Golden State to a 3-1 edge in the second-round series, while Curry’s individual play marked perhaps the most iconic performance of his career as he returned from a knee sprain in spectacular fashion.”

The spiritual and theological tie in is obviously clear. It’s also unanimous, and even more importantly so, that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is STILL Lord! That’s right, God is still on the throne, despite the chaos and the madness and the craziness of this world, the God of Heaven is still sits high and looks low. He still puts up and tears down. He still deserves our adoration and praise and worship.

So, if you believe that Steph Curry is unquestionably the king of the court, then how much more so should we honor and pay homage to the God that still answers by fire?

Love Thy Rival: Loving Your Enemy Into A Friend

 Love Thy Rival

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44, KJV

Love your rival. It’s a biblical concept.  Many opponents are arch enemies, fierce foes, and robust rivals.  But if you study sports history close enough, you will find the fiercest of foes and the roughest of rivals eventually become the best of friends.  Just ask Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  The respect that rivals have for each other is actually “love.”  Fierce rivals at the highest level may not like each other, but they certainly recognize and respect each other; they acknowledge and admire the ability of a worthy opponent.

Bird is better for dueling with Magic; Duke is better for running with North Carolina; Auburn is better for arching Alabama; the Yankees are better for wrestling with the Red Sox, and the list goes on and on. And we are better for wrestling with principalities, and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world, and for battling with spiritual wickedness in high places.

So love your rival. Sports can teach us how to love our enemies. In fact, some of sports greatest rivalries teach us that we NEED our rivals. Without them, our testimony would not be tried and tested, our faith would be false and phony and our piety would lack substantiation and corroboration.  In short, we cannot do without our enemies.    

Come to realize that you must love your rival. Come to realize that we are emboldened and empowered, enthused and energized, elevated and educated by our rivals, and by the rubbing and the ribbing and the roughing up we get from our interaction with them. And we need to thank them for it.  We are both emptied and enlarged by our rivals.  So, don’t look at your rivals as stumbling blocks, look at them as stepping-stones; stepping-stones to increased spiritual agility and advanced sacred ability.

“Love Thy Rival” is actually a book by an author I hope to meet one day. “In his first book, the best-selling ‘God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC,’ humorist Chad Gibbs explored his own struggles to balance faith in God with passion for pigskin.  In his second book, ‘Love Thy Rival,’ Gibbs is back asking how Christian fans can love their enemies, when we can’t even love rival fans.

From the cross-country culture war of Lakers vs Celtics, to the cross-state hate-fest of Alabama vs. Auburn, Gibbs spent one year attending the most intense rivalry games in sports (Yankees vs. Red Sox, Duke vs. Carolina, and many more), observing the darker side of fan culture, and pondering the problems rivalry games present to the Christian fan.”1

1 http://www.amazon.com/Love-Thy-Rival-Greatest-Rivalries/dp/0985716509

Veterans and Rookies

Kareem and Magic

Veterans and rookies. Sometimes they don’t get along, and most times they don’t speak the same language. But they need each other. A striking example of this is the twosome of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Magic came into the League in 1980 and, in his rookie season, won an NBA Championship with Kareem.  Kareem was a wiry veteran who had already won, but was hungry for more. His old legs and winded spirit needed a boost. And he got a big boost in the person of Magic. The two went on to win 5 titles, and this tandem and the rest of the L.A. Lakers were nicknamed “Showtime” because of their flashy style and their dashy play.

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Kareem and Magic were the perfect veteran-rookie combination of creative tension. Part of their mystic and charm lie in this creative tension – the creative tension between their ages and their positions allowed each to compliment the other, as both could learn and teach the other a thing or two. This duo dominated professional basketball in the ‘80s, as they were a force to be reckoned with. 

Likewise, there are tandems of veteran-rookie generational tag-teams in Scripture. Moses and Joshua.  Elijah and Elisha.  David and Solomon. Naomi and Ruth.  Paul and Timothy.  These pairs are examples of a savvy veteran balanced with a spirited rookie; an old-hand and a newbie; a professor and a pupil.  Every great team has this pair, and each team and generation needs to pass down its experience and expertise to the next.   

Veterans have the advantage of experience and rookies have the advantage of youth.  Coupled together, this combination can be a bona-fide lean, mean, winning machine.  The Bible says that “one can chase one thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight”   The power of cross generational unity cannot be overstated.

Likewise, in our present day, we should look to couple the veteran with the rookie.  Both will benefit; both will gain; both will profit.  At home, work or play; in church, in government, in education, in medicine, the veteran and the rookie should be so tied together that they are inseparable.  Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, each and all have something to learn from the other.

Veterans and rookies; rookies and veterans.  In sports these two go hand in hand, and so it is, or at least should be, with life. So if you are Moses, who is your Joshua? If you are Naomi, who is your Ruth?  If you are Timothy, who is your Paul? Find and link with the mate you must teach and learn from; hang on to them for dear life, and don’t let them go.

Your success depends on it.