Cleveland Makes Wholesale Changes

Cleveland Cavaliers Logo

Sometimes we need to make changes, wholesale changes. When there are structural deficiencies and institutional incompatibilities, cosmetic corrections and surface suggestions just won’t cut it. When the apple is rotten to the core, radical reforms are needed in order to right the ship and produce lasting results. And that’s what the Cleveland Cavaliers figured out.

Isiah Thomas is gone. Dwayne Wade was shipped back to South Beach. And other fixtures of the franchise that revolves around LeBron James are gone too. Were such drastic steps necessary?  Only time will tell. But sometimes you have to do some deep cleaning in order to get rid of all of the dross.

Not that individual players were the problem; it was the chemistry of the team that was the problem. And in order to fix what’s wrong chemically, you need an entirely new formula. That’s what happened when Jesus came to town.

Jesus came to make wholesale changes. The Pharisees and Sadducees and the religious establishment had settled unto a fixed, flat-rate, unforgiving system that they thought worked for them, when in truth it didn’t work for anybody. Jesus came with new rules and a fresh perspective and a better way of living. The only problem was, he had to blow up the old system and make wholesale changes. And the establishment didn’t like.

That’s the lesson. So, let’s take a page from the Cleveland Cavaliers playbook. When things aren’t working, look at everything. And I mean EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY.  Some of the things you’re doing may need to be revised, revamped or even revoked. The same goes for the people in your life that you may even like.  If they’re not working for you, they may in fact be working against you.   

So do yourself a favor. If you must, and some of us are in a season or situation where we must, make wholesale changes. It’s better that being bitter.  Indeed, the changes may hurt.  But the changes, if done with the goal of getting better in mind, will in fact help.

What’s Wrong With The Cleveland Cavaliers?

LeBron James is not happy.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Isaiah Thomas, aka “I.T.”, from the Boston Celtics in the 2017 offseason, they knew it was going to be a while before the crafty ball-handler was well enough to play, as he was still recovering from a hip injury.

After enduring seven months of rehabilitation, Thomas made his Cavs debut on Jan. 2 in a 127-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring 17 points in just 19 minutes of playing time. He’s had some good and bad games since then. In fact, the former Washington Huskies stand-out has been the Cavs’ leading scorer in each of their last two games. However, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the team is growing a bit wary of Thomas, and for good reason.

The chemistry between LeBron and I.T. just isn’t there, and the Cavs have appeared to be disheveled and disinterested in recent loses.

So what’s the problem? More importantly, what’s the solution? But first things first. In sports and in life, we all know that you can’t fix something until you know why it’s broken.

Will the Cavs trade Thomas? Maybe. Or LeBron? Not likely, especially since he has a no trade clause in his contract. Oh well. The circus in Cleveland may well leave the door open for Boston to win the East. Maybe.

The Isaiah Thomas/Kyrie Irving Trade: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Isaiah Thomas celtics- I don’t get it.

Boston parted ways with one of its most beloved players, Isaiah Thomas, in exchange for Cleveland’s most bemoaned player, Kyrie Irving, in a late summer, blockbuster trade that’s rocking the NBA world.  After the season ended, Kyrie DEMANDED to be traded, so Cleveland had to do something. 

So I get it. I really do. Kyrie was damaged goods in Cleveland, and Isaiah, coming off of hip surgery, was a question mark for the upcoming season, at best. Kyrie burned his bridges in Believeland and Boston saw an opportunity to cement their standing as the No. 1 seed in the East. Now beating Cleveland should be a fait accompli.  Right?

But then again, I don’t get it. Isaiah played his heart out for Boston, and Kyrie won a NBA Championship in Cleveland. So why leave? And why part with a fan favorite in Thomas when he’s the heart and soul of that team?

I get it. Sports is a business. Sports teams are not family anymore. Professional sports teams are organizations, not chummy chum chum kinfolk. The bonding and the binding and the belonging that comes with a sports team that resembles a tight knit family is no more.  It’s in God’s playbook, but not NBA owners. And that’s a shame.

Even though the Kevin Durant signing turned out swimmingly, this was a TRADE, not a free agent signing. So there’s no guarantee that this swap and switch-aroonnee will work.  What about the chemistry between Kyrie and the other veteran Boston players? And will little Isaiah be “big” enough to handle playing with LeBron?

 I don’t get it. But then again, I get it. Once again, we see another example of how sports is like life and life is just like sports. On one hand you scratch your head and wonder.  And on the other hand, you just gotta believe.

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.

Who Should Be The MVP?

 russell-westbrook-not-feeling-new-nba-all-star-voting-system-2017-images-jpg

Westbrook? Harden? Leonard? Curry? Or even LeBron?  Who has carried and cajoled and compelled their team better that all others?  And who has made them better? Who has been the on the floor and the off the hardwood commander and chief and captain and quasi coach?  In other words, who’s been the bossier boss?

The clear favorite seems to be Westbrook, even though Harden and others have somewhat to say about the final vote. No, Oklahoma City will not go far in the 2017 playoffs, but they would be nowhere without the heroics of Russell Westbrook this season. Period. Paragraph.

Do total team wins count towards or count against a player?  I mean, if I’m a great player but my squad is a middle of the road team, does that hurt me or help me? Does it matter how many wins my team gets, as long as it’s more with me than without me?  If I made my team better and they would have been much worse without me, shouldn’t that be worth something?

The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly had every reason to tank and topple this season, with Durant leaving, and especially with the WAY he left. But no; somehow, someway, Westbrook summoned strength and led his team to a winning season and they got into the playoffs. And not only that, but Westbrook broke the single season record for triple doubles, topping Oscar Robertson’s record which has stood for decades.

The Bible is full of MVPs. From Abraham to Amos, and from Zechariah to the daughters of Zelophehad, heroes and heroines of the faith all made their situations better because of their faith and their fortitude. They scored heavenly points, grabbed spiritual rebounds and dished out divine assists in route to leading their respective teams to victory.

So what about you? Is your “team” better with you, or without you? Do you make any given situation you’re in better or worse? Is your job, your group, or your club healthier, happier, enhanced and improved with your talent and your flair and your flavor? If so, you’re an MVP too.

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?