Anthony Davis Is A LA Laker

Anthony Davis-LeBron James

Well! That was fast. The ink is barely dry on the NBA championship certificates and teams – er, make that the Lakers team – is rushing in to pan for 2020 gold. In other words, the Toronto Raptors barely finished prying the Warriors’ fingers from the Larry O’Brien Trophy when the Lakers Organization proceeded to claim dibs on winning the 2020 NBA Title.

And here’s the news on the NBA’s latest blockbuster trade: This just in — The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to trade the farm, er, make that the farm animals, for Anthony Davis. No offense to Brandon Ingram who is a legitimate, up and coming star, but Lonzo Ball is a bust, and Josh Hart is, well . . . just who is Josh Hart again? Anyway, the Lakers have come into this offseason looking and smelling like the city dump but will come out of this trade looking and smelling like a rose. For their part, the New Orleans Pelicans (I almost said the New Orleans Jazz – it just sounds better) – anyway, the Pelicans have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, and so getting Zion Williamson, for now — aka, on paper — is fair compensation for losing Anthony Davis.

We’ll see how this one works out. The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in six years. Six years. And this past year was LeBron’s first with the proud but now pitiful franchise which has had the offseason from hell. For the Lakers it’s been rough sledding. This past season, the saga has been sordid: Magic comes and then goes; Walton goes; potential coaches come and then go. The toasts of Tinsel Town couldn’t write a more soapy script.

But if — that’s IF —  the Lakers can pull off a turnaround next season, it will be one for the record books. And that’s the lesson. From the world’s perspective, if you just turn things around, you will be forgiven and all will be forgotten. It does not matter how bad it looks or how bad it gets, just turn it around. And all will be forgiven.

Spiritually, it works for us the other way. Just accept God’s amazing grace, and then He will turn you around and He will turn things around for you. All is forgiven when you accept his grace. Don’t try to do this at home; that is to say, don’t try to do this on your own. It takes the toast of Heaven, our Lord and Savior, to turn things around. It does not matter how bad it looks or how bad it gets, He can turn it around for you. He can and He will, if we trust Him and believe.

Kawhi!

kawhi.jpg

Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are on the verge of winning the NBA’s biggest prize. After absolutely torching the defending champs in Game 4 — AT ORACLE, mind you — the Raptors are almost rapturous as they stand on the verge of winning their first NBA Championship. Who saw this one coming? It is an upset of epic proportions, as the Warriors were supposed to rip the Raptors in Six Games. Instead, it looks like it will end the other way around. And all of Canada is singing “Oh Canada” and dancing in every Jurassic park north of the order.

This steady and stoic superstar rarely smiles or shows any emotion. Yet this 2019 Finals Championship series has been all about the man who has become the NBA’s most dominant and dominating player — Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has been putting up outrageous numbers during the postseason, dispatching the Bucks in six games after falling behind 0-2, just after sending home the Philadelphia 76ers, after falling behind Philly 2-1, with a Game 7, buzzer-beating, series-winning shot. Now in the NBA Finals, Leonard and the Raptors are one win away from dethroning the defending-champion Golden State Warriors.

Looming over Leonard’s play and the Raptors’ success is the fact that he may most likely decide not to re-sign with the team after the season. It has long been speculated that Leonard wishes to play in his home state of California; with his contract expiring at the end of the playoffs, his future will be entirely in his hands. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, Leonard and the Raptors are trying to get their hands on the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Kawhi Leonard has proved and proven that he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s averaging 31 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Not too shabby. He’s leading his team night in and night out, with no excuses for a mistake here or there and no regrets, especially for leaving San Antonio. Yes Kawhi left a good team and a great coach in Gregg Popovich for Toronto. Yes Kawhi has been very good for most of his career. And yes Toronto has also been pretty good for the past few years. But for Kawhi, Toronto was an unknown commodity in uncharted territory, for he was getting a new, first year coach and new teammates — and nothing was for sure.

But all of that seems like ancient history now, as Kawhi has led his new team to the summit of the season and the apex of the basketball world. Kawhi has the third highest scoring average in these payoffs, behind Kevin Durant and James Harden. And now he’s takin it to the reigning champs.

Yes there have been players to leave a team they’ve been with for years for another team. Dr. J did it. Moses Malone did it. Kevin Garnett did it. And Kevin Durant did it. All of these players did it to do one thing: win a championship with their new team. But how ironic is it that Durant is injured and not playing against Kawhi now?

And Kawhi has help. Over the course of the Finals, supporting actors the likes of Pascal Siakim and Marc Gasol and Dennis Green and Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka have filled in admirably and taken turns in helping carry the load as Leonard has led the way. Last night, Serge Ibaka scored 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench for the composed and confident Raptors. That means Ibaka shot 75% from the floor. These red hot Raptors are shooting lights out when they need to and turning back every Warrior threat at raucous Oracle — where home fans were stunned and silenced when the final buzzer sounded.

Not even the presence of Hall of Famer Al Attles, the Warriors’ former general manager, coach and player, could help the Warriors. Attles attended Game 4 and it was the first game in approximately eight months for the 82-year-old Attles, who has had health issues.

As for the reigning champs, they will have to dig deep and stretch wide and strain to reach higher than they’ve reached in order to pull this one out of the hat. The return of KD – Kevin Durant could help, but then again, after missing nine straight games, a herculean effort is what it’s going to take to overtake the red hot Raptors.

The key is that the Raptors believe. They believe in their coach, themselves and their leader. They are confident, they’ve played confidently, and they are in no way, shape or form being overly optimistic or arrogantly simplistic. Yes they are up 3-1, but they still have to win one more. It’s just one more game, but it’s still a full game. As Lowry said, “We aint done nothing yet.” And he’s right because it aint over till the fat lady sings.

But if Leonard leads like he’s led them so far, it’s over. It is absolutely over. And we’ll be crowning and congratulating a new champion come Monday night.

The lessons learned here are these: be humble, because Leonard is as self-effacing as they come. Be heady, as Leonard is one of the smartest, hardest working players in the league. And be happy for those who happen to be having a season of success. Remember, “Rejoice with them that rejoice.” You’ll want others to rejoice in your success too.

A Philadelphia 76ers Sports Prophecy: Philly Philly!

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it wouldn’t be done. But done it was. Here we have an example of negative prophecy, or false prophecy, if you will. What the sports “prophets” said wouldn’t come to pass did in fact come to pass. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles, our beloved back up QB.

And now this. Philly’s professional basketball team, our beloved 76ers, have made the playoffs and have won — get this– 12 straight games. That’s a three week winning streak, the longest in memory. Allen Iverson led the Sixers to a ten game winning streak to start the season back in 2000 on the way to a NBA Finals matchup with the Lakers. And Dr. J and Moses Malone certainly had a few winning streaks of their own during the 1983 Championship season when we beat the Lakers. And that’s just off the top of my head.

And now this. Now the new, next-gen Sixers are following the pattern and winning games and hearts the world over. First of all, they have great players and they make up a great team. And those two main ingredients don’t always go hand in hand.

And so here’s the prophecy: the Sixers will win the NBA Title. They will. It’s just a matter of time. How do I know? Here’s how C.H. Spurgeon put it:

Courage, you that prayerfully work and toil for Christ with success of the very smallest kind, it shall not be so always; better times are before you.

Success of the very smallest kind. Wow. Sound familiar? Sometimes that’s how life feels. So you’ve got to believe that things will turn around and in fact are turning around. Determine to disappoint the devil and expect to experience victory in every area every day.

Some say that prophecy and sports don’t go together, but I beg to differ. Joe Namath predicted that the Jets would win the Super Bowl in ’69. And they did, even though they were the underdog of underdogs. That’s just the most famous sports prophecy that I can remember. Certainly there are many others.

Better times are ahead. The Sixers have endured the hard times. They certainly had some bad times. Now it’s time for the good times. And it will happen.

Just have faith and believe.

Predict Your Future

Embiid and Simmons

Here’s a sports prophesy that I hope comes true: The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers will win it all, in 3 years or so, give or take.  There. I said it.

Sports prognosticators predict wins and losses and victories and defeats. But this is not a prediction, per se. I have a prophecy,  that I hope comes true. It’s a  Type 1Prophecy, meaning it’s a prediction made based on human intuition and analysis of facts. It’s not from God, even though I hope heaven is in on this one.

There are true prophets and false prophets. And no true prophet wants to be confused with a false prophet.  And the problem with prophecy is that in order to be valid and legitimate it has to come true. So, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to prophesy.  It’s a sports prophecy. So here goes: the Sixers will win the NBA Championship within 4 years.  (Did I say 3 before?) There I said it, and here’s why:

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem destined to be at dynamic duo set out to destroy defenses across the NBA for quite some time.  So why not shoot for the top?

In LA, Embiid scored 32 points against the Clippers and then, just two short nights later,  Embiid put up monster, if not historic numbers: he scored 46, that’s Forty Six points, had 15 rebounds and 7 assists and 7 blocks against the Lakers at Staples Center. Not too shabby for a second year big man that can hit threes with ease.   And Simmons was one rebound short of ANOTHER triple double.  And thus Simmons and Embiid have saved the Sixers.

Simmons is a Saviour; or, as some would say, he’s a savior of sorts. He was the No. 1 Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and he’s going to a team and a city that is in desperate need of saving. And so far, Simmons is averaging 17.8, points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Not bad for a rookie.  And the 76ers other all-star candidate, Joel Embiid, is averaging 23 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

The Greek work for Saviour is Soter, meaning deliverer. To deliver from danger and death is the purpose of intent and the supreme significance of Biblical salvation. To deliver means to rescue and to defend, both morally and physically, as opposed to being lost and destroyed. And to deliver and save is the herculean task of a Saviour. To save is to revive and retrieve and resurrect to life and health and wholeness.

For Philly, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are just what “The Dr.” ordered., becaseu the City of Brotherly Love is in dreadful need of some real relief and release.  And you may be too. So predict your future. And call out for salvation, because you need to participate in your own resurrection.

The last time the Sizers had the No. 1 pick was 20 years ago. Simmons was the No. 1 pick in 2016 and Markelle Fulz, who has barely played, was the No. 1 pick this year. A generation ago, as it is hoped now, the No. 1 pick became a Saviour of sorts, and went on to become Philly’s favorite son: Allen Iverson. “AI” didn’t win an NBA championship, but he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1996–97 season. Iverson was also the NBA MVP for the 2000-2001 season, and just this year he was voted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

So While I hope Embiid and Simmons deliver, I don’t have to hope about Heaven. There is a heaven and there is a hell, just like the Bible says.  Isreal became a nation, just like the prophets predicted, and we are living in perilous times, just as the Apostle Paul, a New Testament prophet fortold.

 As for my predictive prophecy about the Sixers wining it att, the city and the fans feel and sense that their redemption draweth nigh. With Ebiid’s 46 point performance against LA the other night, the wait for a good team is over. Now we just have to wait Embiid and Simmons to become a great team, and deliver a championship.  Just like Moses arriving in Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from the clutches of Pharaoh, Jesus came and delivered all who believe in Him from the power of sin and shame.

As a Philly fan, I long for another glorious season of winning and ruling and dominating in ANY sport, so why not start with roundball? (or football  for that matter– GO EAGLES! Fly Eagles fly, on to victory . . .  I just had to get that in.)

Anyway, to the Philly faithful, sports salvation is here. And for everyone else, if you want to be saved, salvation is yours for the asking.

Kyrie Irving and Demanding Children

Kyrie Irving Trade

There was a time when people — and for the purposes of this blog, people are athletes — were almost always respectable and correctable, reputable and commendable. But not now. There was a time when folks and sports figures were almost always faithful and forthright, dependable and reliable, tried and true. But not now. And you already know I’m speaking of Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie Irving has demanded — that’s right, DEMANDED — a trade from Cleveland to anywhere in the NBA. Or almost anywhere he wants to go.  What the what?  There was a time not too long ago when no one would have blamed him. But not now. Now he plays with LeBron “King” James. Now (or most recently) his team went to the NBA Finals and represented the Eastern Conference for the past three years. And just last year, his team beat the Golden State Warriors to win Cleveland’s first NBA Championship, ever. And now he’s demanding a trade? C’mon MAN!

Why is Kyrie’s situation different than any and all of the other players who jumped ship and skipped town and got out of Dodge to go to another team? Because THEY were free agents, and they didn’t have two years left on their contracts. That’s the difference.

Demanding children are a product of our times. The Bible says that children will, in the last days, “be disobedient to their parents, unthankful, and unholy.” And all of this absolutely applies to professional athletes who are like children. These adult jocks are offspring of the sports marriage of owners and fans; they are essentially professional sports children who play for their professional sports “parents,” aka professional teams.

That’s why it’s unconscionable for me to even wildly imagine or dare to dream that I would have “demanded” anything from my parents, Elmer and Lerotha. And if I did, I was wrong for doing so. That’s God’s playbook.

Children are to respect their parents.  Peroid. End of discussion. Unfortunately, too many children today are dishonoring and disrespecting their parents, at will. Now, instead of parents raising children, today we have children raising parents.  

The reward given to respectful, reverential children is a long and fruitful life. And this absolutely applies to sports children of sports teams.  When I grew up, they taught me that what goes around comes around. And I just believe that athletes today who “demand” trades aren’t being the respectful, respectable offspring that they should be.

 

Warriors Win!

The Golden State Warriors are just better. 

They’re better than the Cavaliers by a country mile. Yes the Dubs have Durant, but that’s not their fault.  Truth be told, the only reason this series wasn’t over in four games was that unbelievable, super human, Herculean effort in Game 4  by the Cavs which they will NEVER be able to duplicate.

On the other hand, the Warriors can turn it on at will, and they wanted to win at home instead of on the road. Nuff said.

So congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, the 2017 NBA Chdmpions.  And congrats to Kevin Durant, the Finals MVP.  He got his well deserved ring, and I for one am glad he did.

Durant and Warriors: “Be The Best You Can Be”

Warriors

That’s what the Golden State Warriors are showing us and teaching us; they’re schooling us on how to be the best. They are undefeated in these 2017 Playoffs. They are winning games by double digit margins. They have the best shooters, and they are playing the best defense. The Warriors won Game One of the 2017 NBA Finals 113 – 91, and they won Game Two 132 – 113. That’s pretty impressive.

After Golden State’s Game 2 thrashing of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, the questions abound:

How is it that last year the Warriors lost Game 7 at home in a close, contested contest that saw LeBron James lead a pretty good team against a really good team and win? How is it that the best team (a 73 game regular season win squad) in the NBA last year got even better? How is it that this year the Kevin Durant led Warriors, made an already great team an instantaneous juggernaut? And how is it that the Cavaliers are playing really close but then are getting really blown out?

Now, the questions get fewer and finer; can the visibly vulnerable and discernably dejected Cavaliers mount a charge against the mighty Warriors? Can the defending champions (that’s right, they ARE the defending champions) summon the stamina to withstand this relentless, oncoming tide of three pointers and pick and rolls and more points than they can find? And can LeBron save face and win at least one game? I say no.

The Warriors look borderline unstoppable through two games of the 2017 NBA Finals. And, to add insult to injury to the rest of the League, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the Dubs looked poised to dominate the Association for the foreseeable future.

The Warriors are dead set on proving to the basketball world in general and to the sports universe in specific that last year’s loss was a fluke. The fact that they should have won is fairly debatable. The fact that they didn’t win is forever undisputable. But now these Durant led Warriors are bent on proving that they are the undisputed heavyweight champions of the basketball world.

Not even the great and mighty LeBron James can carry his team up this mountain. Not this time.When these Warriors play their best they’re at their best, and they’re simply unbeatable. Period. 

And the same goes for you and me too. When we are at our best and when we do our best and when we display our best, we are relying on God and not on our own strength. When we “walk by faith and not by sight;” when our “love is sincere and we hate what is evil and cling to what is good” and when we “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and don’t lean to our own understanding,” we are at our best and we are the best we can be.