A Christmas Miracle

Embiid Phila Magazine

On this one of the most spiritually significant days of the year, the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers just gave sports and non-sports fans alike a reason to believe in miracles. Again. My Sixers just beat the New York Knicks 105 – 98 at MSG (that’s Madison Square Garden) in what was a Christmas Day Miracle for Philly fans everywhere. 

New York, this Christmas,  Joel Embiid has come to town. 

This was the first time Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons played on Christmas and they played before an amped and anxious, national TV audience full of fans who want to believe. We want to believe that Philly sports are back on track to stay, and that the Sixers will only get better as time goes on. But this win wasn’t pretty or easy.

The miracle was that as good as the Sixers can be, they can be just as bad as well.  They can be lights out pretty, scary good or turn the lights out ugly, horror movie bad the next week or the next game or the next possession.  Sheesh. 

The professional basketball team from Philly needs to learn how to finish and complete and accomplish a total team win. There are some things that we can control. So control them. You can’t avoid making mistakes, but you can minimize your faults and your flubs. Falling apart in the fourth quarter is always a bad thing, and protecting the lead is always good thing, especially when the game is on the line.  Hear that Sixers?

It sports and in life, we all need to think things through and think things over and try to stay cool and calm and calculated, even and especially when we’re under pressure.  When you get rattled and you don’t reason, you tend to throw the ball away or rush the shot or commit a silly foul when a prudent, practical and pragmatic play would be warranted.  Discretion is always the better part of valor. Because it’s always better to make the safe play than trying to be the hero and trying to be Superman.

That’s why we thank God for grace. When we can’t or don’t play or live as best as we should, grace steps in and delivers a gift wrapped miracle just for us.

Charles Oakley and The Sad State of the New York Knicks

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It’s all so sad. It’s all so saddening. And it didn’t have to end this way. The removal and arrest of former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden didn’t sit well with fans in and outside of the arena and current and former NBA players alike, who were shocked at his treatment.

Oakley — a fan favorite known for his toughness, defense and rebounding alongside Patrick Ewing during the 1990s — was removed from MSG by security and then was charged with three misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault and another third-degree misdemeanor.

Oakley, the tough-as-nails big man who played 10 seasons in New York, got into a shoving match with security guards during the Knicks’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The 53-year-old was escorted from the World’s Most Famous Arena in handcuffs, according to another source, by the NYPD and he subsequently was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal trespass.

We don’t know what Oakley may have said, but we know what James Dolan and the Knicks organization did. And a handful of current and former NBA players reacted to the incident on social media, supporting Oakley.

There’s right and there’s wrong. There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way to do things. And this one smells really wrong. With something like this occurring just a few feet away and allegedly at the direction of James Dolan, the owner of the Kicks, it’s no wonder that this once proud and prestigious NBA franchise is stinking on and off of the court.

Dwyanewade
10years!!! 10 years Oak gave everything he had for this organization and the image everyone will be left with won’t be this picture. It will be the imagine of him being taken down to the ground last night in the same arena he gave his all 2 as a player by the guards! This Could happen to any of us!!! #StayWoke We are not above this treatment!

Willis Reed: How To Turn The Tide

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Willis Reed turned the tide. Few men loomed larger than Willis Reed. At 6’9”, Reed, the beloved yet recently beleaguered Captain of the New York Knicks, was among the tallest players in the NBA for his time. In some ways, he was larger than life.[1] Reed’s most famous performance took place on May 8, 1970, during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in Madison Square Garden. Due to a severe thigh injury, a torn muscle that had previously kept him out of Game 6, he was considered unlikely to play in Game 7. Yet Reed surprised the fans by walking onto the court during warm-ups, prompting widespread applause.

 

Starting the game, he scored the Knicks’ first two field goals on his first two shot attempts, his only points of the game. Walt “Clyde” Frazier went on to score 36 points with 18 assists as the Knicks won 113–99, giving New York City its first NBA title. The moment Reed walked onto the court was voted the greatest moment in the history of Madison Square Garden.[2]

The Thunder have turned the tide. Just when it looked like OKC, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were about to get swept right out of the 2014 NBA Playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, here they come. The Thunder have tied the series at 2-2, and they’re headed back to Texas where they have to win Game 5 now or Game 7 if necessary to advance to the finals.

The tide has been turned because they’ve figured out how to beat the Spurs. First, they’ve got help. The return of their big man Serge Ibaka didn’t hurt. Yes he was hurt, and yes he played hurt, but his influence has helped to hurt the Spurs in the worst way. In fact, he’s the “X” Factor. He’s the one constant in the two loses and the two wins. With Ibaka the Thunder win; without Ibaka they lose.

So what is it for you? How do turn the tide when you’re back’s up against the wall? How do you turn the tide when you’re out of breath and out of money and out of time and just plain out of “luck”? What is your “X” Factor? We all know what we need to do when we don’t know what else to do. Turn to God. Turn to the presence and the power and the providence of God, and stop fighting and flaying and floundering without Him.

Ibaka has turned the tide. Ibaka wasn’t supposed to play. He had an injury that they said put him out for the rest of the season. But lookie here! He’s the difference. He’s making a difference. And now his return will be looked back on as quite a difference in the play of the Thunder. While Russell Westbrook’s 40 points and Kevin Durant’s 31 in Game 4 certainly didn’t hurt, it’s been the presence and prowlness and play of Serge Ibaka, the four-year pro who rebounds and blocks shots and runs the floor and takes up space in the middle that has turned the tide.

So turn the tide. How? By showing up. Your presence will make all the difference in the game and maybe in the world. Willis Reed didn’t do much in that magical game 7 at the Garden so many moons ago, but he did make a difference. Ibaka wasn’t expected to do much in this series, but he has. So make a difference. Do what you do. Don’t let the prognosis of some and the diagnosis of others weigh you down. Your presence, when positive and progressive, when cheery and chirpy, when upbeat and uplifting, could turn the tide for someone and everyone. Just give it a try.

 

[1] http://thekorporal14.tumblr.com/

[2] Wikipedia