Escape From New York: Carmelo Is A Knick No Longer

Carmello Anthony Running and All Smiles
NEW YORK, NY –  Carmelo Anthony, #7 of the New York Knicks, is all smiles as he’s running out of  Madison Square Garden in NYC and is on his way to play for the Thunder in OKC.
Carmelo Kyam Anthony is smiling now. He’s smiling because he’s running out of and running out on New York. That’s right, Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick no longer.  Too bad, so sad (for New York Knicks fans, that is). And the really sad part is that he seemed like he never really wanted to be there in the first place. Talk about continuous compunction.   

So let’s get it out there right up front: this has been one of the messier and muddier sports separations in recent memory. Discord, disharmony, and dissonance all led to distrust and the destruction of a viable team playing at MSG, and you could see it a mile away.

The spiritual lesson is eternally, powerfully poignant: always and forever, where there is unity, there is strength. But since there was only disunity and dysfunction in New York, it had to end in disaster, at least for the Knicks. And since one teams’s trash is another teams treasure, it appears that the OKC Thunder are now even more primed to go toe to toe with Golden State for the Western Conference Title.

So much for the color commentary; here’s the play by play:

Anthony, 33, is a ten-time All-Star, but the Knicks are prioritizing a full rebuild centered around Kritaps Porzingis after a tumultuous last few seasons. The team fired Phil Jackson as general manager and replaced him with Scott Perry in July. (And just who is Scott Perry?)  Anyway, New York went 31-51 last season and has not made the playoffs since 2012-13.

In Oklahoma City, Carmelo joins a team that acquired Paul George in the offseason, and reports say George and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook played an “immense part” in convincing Anthony to waive his no-trade clause.

Even after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors in free agency last summer, Oklahoma City went on to win 47 games and make the playoffs.  If the Thunder are able to keep their new stars, they could set themselves up for many more  seasons of sustained success.

Anthony leaves the Knicks with uneven results. They made the playoffs three times during his tenure, including a 54-28 record and Eastern Conference semifinals appearance in 2012-13. But New York never reached the conference finals and had four coaches and one interim coach in Anthony’s seven seasons with the team.

The Knicks have had four consecutive losing seasons – three of them under Phil Jackson’s unproductive run as president. Jackson alienated Anthony as the team tried to go into rebuild mode. Though Anthony may have enjoyed living and playing in New York, he also realized his time with the Knicks was over.

So let’s learn the lesson again; in sports and in life, where there is unity there is strength. And when there’s not . . .

Golden State Is Undefeated!

Golden State SI Cover

The Golden State Warriors are undefeated and undeterred and are winning and are playing like warlords on a warpath. These 2015 Warriors have sprinted their way out ahead of the NBA pack in defense of their 2015 title. Stephen Curry and his fellow phenoms are playing like they’re on an inevitable track to repeat last year’s heroics en  route to win another Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Yes, once again, Golden State is a golden goose, as they are now 14-0 and mowing over and plowing under every team in their path. Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team coached by “Dr.” Phil Jackson blew through the league and set a record for regular season wins with a 72-10 high water mark. Some say that this will never happen again. Enter Steph Curry and this Warriors team.

The Warriors are winning in wonderful ways. I stayed up way past my bedtime last night and watched them defeat Chicago and I was not disappointed. ‘Da Bulls gave them a run for their money, and were actually winning with time running out but the Warriors won running away. It was awesome to watch a REGULAR SEASON NBA game in November that actually meant something. But how are they doing it?

The Warriors are winning and grinning and thinning the ranks of the NBA. They’re winning and having fun doing it. For them it’s not work, it’s play. And as a wise old pastor once told me, when you make your work your play, you’ll never work a day in your life.  The closest teams to the Warriors are LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Timmy Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, both sitting at 9-3.  And at the other end of the spectrum, my sad and sorry Sixers are 0-13. They’re struggling and bumbling and can’t win for loosing. They can’t figure out how to win a game yet. In other words, winning is elusive and losing is effortness. Oh well. We’re rebuilding, right?

So, this season is all about the Warriors and how they will win another title. And how they will mow and plow through the rest of the league to do it. It’s a wonderful thing to watch, because there’s nothing like watching poetry in motion. There’s nothing like watching a pro play at the highest level and there’s nothing any opponent can do about it. They can’t stop them and they can’t beat them and they can’t defeat them. At least not yet.

 So let’s learn a lesson from the league’s best. This Thanksgiving, let’s have fun living. Let’s have fun giving, and let’s not forget forgiving.   These three are a must, because the only way to defeat the enemy and to win in life is to enjoy living, to employ giving and to be ever forgiving.

You Are The One For The Job

Knicks Jackson Basketball-5

Phil Jackson is the one for the job.  Why? Because there is only one Phil Jackson. He is a proven winner, a constant champion and a tried and true basketball commodity that as a coach never languished through a losing season.

Phil Jackson is the man for the job. He signed as the new President of the New York Knicks and this latest career move has now brought him full circle. He began in the NBA with the Knicks in the late ‘60’s and is now returning to the team where he started his glittering career  after a 35 year hiatus.

For this job, some say Phil Jackson is the man.  He is a 68-year-old Hall of Famer who has won a record 13 NBA titles as a player and coach. He says his aim was to bring a winning tradition back to New York.  Jackson won 11 NBA titles as a coach, surpassing the previous record of nine set by Red Auerbach. That’s six, count ‘em – SIX titles with Michael Jordan, and five titles with Kobe Bryant. Not too shabby, huh? So, to win in New Your “would be the pinnacle, a capstone, on the remarkable career that I’ve had,”[1] Jackson said.

Jackson is the man, but others question “is this the right  job?” Jackson played for the Knicks from 1967 to 1978 and has now been put in charge of all basketball decisions. He won two titles as a player with the Knicks, helping them win their most recent NBA crown, in 1973.  “To come back to the place where I started in basketball is a great feeling” said Jackson. He vowed to revive the struggling New York Knicks. He will be trying to recreate the magic he was part of with the Knicks in the 1970s.

For this job some openly doubt if Jackson is the right one. He retired from coaching in May 2011 and is now going to take on the new “project” of the failing Knicks franchise in a new position. Can it even be done?  Will it be done? Maybe the question is, “Can it be done or will it be done by anyone other than Phil?”  Only time will tell.  

And so ask yourself this question: “Are you are the one for the job?”  Despite the distraction of the doubters and the dissenters, notwithstanding the negativity of the no-accounts and the naysayers, and casting aside the carping of the critics and the skeptics, the answer is – YES!

Why are you the one for the job? Because God made only one you. Whatever the job is you have been assigned to, you are the only one who can do it quite like you. So stop questioning if you have the raw skills or the requisite know-how or the right stuff for the job. Wherever God has placed you, He has graced with all sufficient grace for the task at hand. So depend on His grace and His grace alone. Thankfully, Jonathan taught us this lesson.

 Jonathan was the man for the job. He and his amour-bearer defeated the Philistines without the knowledge or permission of his father, King Saul, and launched what turned out to be a great victory for Israel. His faith forgot his fear and forced him forward, further than even his father would go.  He knew the he was the one for the job.

And so are you.


[1] “Phil Jackson Seeks to Recreate Magic with The Knicks” (AFP)

Are You A Team Player?

MJ and Rodman

Michael Jordan didn’t win all of those championship rings by himself. He had help. Good help. And you know what they say about good help.  So why was Michael such a successful basketball player? Indeed, why was he soooooo successful?

MJ was the consummate team player.  Jordan knew that there is no “I” in team.  His whole mentality was to win, by any means necessary. If he needed to score, he would score. If he needed to dish out assists, he would get double-digit assists. If he needed to play suffocating “D”, he would do just that. Jordan was a team player.  Sounds spiritual to me.

But most importantly, since there is no “I” in team, Jordan knew how to use his teammates in their strengths.  MJ knew he couldn’t just score his way to the ultimate victory. There is so much more to winning then just scoring. He figured out how to get all of his teammates involved in every game. He learned how to blend and meld a diverse group of variously talented, vigorously temperamental, and victoriously trumpeted athletes together to form a truly great championship team. How about using these principles in our everyday Christian lives?

MJ wasn’t always a team player.  After leading the league in scoring but loosing year after year in the early rounds of the playoffs, or not making the playoffs at all, Jordan figured out that there is no “I” in team.  More than anything else, it was Jordan’s personality that transported the Bulls of the mid ‘90’s from good to great.  And an enormous impact was made by the untraditional Dennis Rodman, who gave the Bulls the dominant rebounder they lacked – and in concert with the singularly agile and versatile Pippen, and the six-man, Toni Kukoc, the team dominated the league. 

Jordan knew how to get along with, and yes, sometimes put up with, all of his teammates, including the red-headed Rodman. And as Christians, when we learn how to get along with each other, when we learn how to love each other, when we learn how to band together and remember that there is no “I” on the “church team,” we will dominate as well.

The Chicago Bulls were a band of team players.  Once they latched on to the notion that there is no “I” in team, the 1995-96 Bulls went on to post a 72-10 regular season record, the best ever, and they cut through the playoffs like a hot knife through butter.  They won the fourth championship for the franchise, en route to the first championship win in their second “three-peat.”

Phil Jackson coached this team of all-stars who were highly motivated and wanted to prove just how good they were.  They proved that there is no “I” in team.  They proved that the way to win is to be a team player. They proved that the way to win is “team, team, team.”  We have Gene Hackman to thank for that line (see Hoosiers).

Every believer should be a team player.  So what is a team player?  Or more precisely, how do you spot a team player? Here’s how.  A team player has:

 1.            A Desire to Win

2.            Knowledge of the Game and A Passion for the Game

3.            A Selfless Spirit (Does What Needs To Be Done)

4.            Knowledge of the Strengths and Weakness of His/Her Teammates

5.            Friends With Teammates On and Off the Court

 So, are you a team player?

Let The Game Come To You

Michael and Kobe

Just be patient. Let the game come to you. Don’t rush. Be quick, but don’t hurry.

Earl Monroe

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Acts 12:5-7

Phil Jackson always coached his players to let the game come to them. Two of those players were two of the greatest basketball players of all time: Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Phil’s advice to Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest player ever, was to “Stop chasing the game. Let the game come to you.” You have to “Tone it down and let the game come to you,” Phil is known to have demanded of the Laker’s Kobe Bryant.

Phil, winner of 13 NBA championships,  (11 as a coach and 2 as a player) coached his players to be natural and not to try too hard. Rather than force plays, wait for an opportunity to make a play. Forcing plays results in turnovers and lost scoring opportunities.

No matter what kind of game MJ was having, Phil Jackson would rest him at the end of the third quarter and for the first few minutes in the fourth. He’d come off the bench rested and ready, and go on to do the most amazing things I’d ever seen, things I ‘d never seen on a basketball court, more often than not leading the Bulls to victory.  And sometime during the fourth quarter, Marv Albert would remark “he lets the game come to him.”

So let the game come to you.

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