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.

http://www.msn.com/en-ph/sports/basketball/what-does-carmelo-trade-mean-for-knicks-thunder/ar-AAsokPu?li=AA4RHM 

https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-rumors-knicks-oklahoma-city-thunder

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

Election Night 2016: Winning Is The Only Thing

hillary-clinton

On any election night, sports and politics are similar and the same as they violently collide.  Politics is a winner takes all, loser go home affair, and so are sports, especially the “big” championship games.

On this historic election night, football’s ground game is an appropriate equivalent to politics and winning on the ground.  You can’t drive through an election line; you must walk in line and wait in line, and you are literally on the ground floor of something really big.

For me, more than any other year, voting today was an honor. As I walked through the line waiting my turn to vote, I was delighted to join hundreds of other citizens at Triangle Elementary School and millions of other Americans across the Country in casting my vote. To be a part of selecting and electing the next president of the United States and the next leader of the free world was a thrill. It really was. It really was a thrill that sent a chill down my spine. (And as I waited in line in the cold outside of my polling place at 5:55 am this morning, I was more than chilled – I was cold! 

But getting up and getting out early to vote was worth it. It was absolutely worth it. Because winning is more than casting your vote and hoping that  your candidate wins. Winning is being a part of a process that has stood the test of time. Other countries have coups and controversies and wonder if their political process really works. In America, in these Unites States, we can say  that the process indeed does work. And the process will be tested yet again tonight. And, since our currency says “In God we Trust,” we trust that the process will work yet again.

Whoever wins, the winner will have been duly elected by the people. And we all will win if we rally around the winner. Because together we stand, and divided we fall. Because winning is the only thing.  

The Republican Party: United They Stand, Divided They Fall

Chris Christie

This is a sports blog.  A God and sports blog, that is. This is not a political blog or a partisan politics blog or party policy blog. It’s a sports blog. That being said, politics is a sport. It’s a blood sport. And the principles and practices that apply to all sports in general apply to any sport in specific. And the sport in question today is Republican politics.

Blue or red, liberal or conservative, right wing or left flank, when you talk victory, you must talk unity and harmony. Any and all teams must come together and gel in order to make a serious late season surge and a powerful playoff push to the title. No sports team in the history of sports has ever won with discord and disagreement and conflict and controversy on the team all the time. It just doesn’t happen. Dysfunction and malfunction and compunction have no place on a winning team, but are always found in the loser’s locker room. Negativity and insensitivity don’t t make for a winner or a champion or a victor or an overcomer at any level. Not at all.

The Republican’s are fighting amongst themselves. To say that the Republican Party — or at least the Republican elite, that is — are divided, is an understatement. There’s infighting and finger pointing and lambasting and backstabbing like you wouldn’t believe. While Chris Christie has endorsed Trump (Really?), most of the other establishment elite can’t agree on anything other than to say that Donald Trump is “unfit to be president.” This coming from Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney?  It would appear that the Grand Ole Party is so split and so torn that the prospect of unity is bleak at best.

The Republican Party has fractures and fissures and cracks and creaks that they just can’t seem to fix. The main problem is this: The Republican establishment’s got a front runner that they all hate and they’ve got wanna be presidential hopefuls that not all of them love. The Old Republican guard has a presumptive nominee that they don’t like and also rans that are riding a one wheel bike. Trump has taken off the gloves and the three other hopefuls still in the race don’t seem like they can collect all of the delegates necessary to be nominated. At least not before the convention and not without a fight.

According to one political strategist, “if there is a contested convention the chances of chaos are high.” And so the lesson is this: without unity, we have nothing.  No Super Bowl rings and no NBA Championship banners and no World Series victory parades. Nada. We have nothing without unity. And according to one party insider, J.M. Stipanovich, ”the Republican Party is not going to come out of this in one piece., and I think whoever the Republican Nominee would be isn’t going to win in November.” Ouch.

So what’s the Republican Party to do? They need to take a page from the playbook for all teams: United we stand and divided we fall. It’s that simple. We don’t have to be uniform but we do have to be unified. And the “we” here is every team and faction and party and couple and church and congregation, everywhere. We must come together and we must stick together. Or else we won’t make it.

And so this is a cry to Christians everywhere. Let’s stop fighting each other and fight our common enemy – Satan. The devil wins when we war within. It’s that simple.

Sports and ISIS

MD Terps BBall

I know what everybody wants for Christmas: “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” And permanent peace will only come when the Prince of Peace comes back to earth. He came the first time as a bouncing, baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes. He will come the second time King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But for now, peace requires that we prevail against a new world evil and the pandemonium that is ISIS. This new threat must be put out to pasture. While it’s easier said than done, it can be done, because it’s been done before.

Old enemies such as Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin Dada and recent enemies such as Osama Ben Laden and Sadam Hussein have all been vanquished. Now, this new enemy must be met and matched. But the question is, “how?”  I submit that sports supplies the solution.

My University of Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball team is ranked in the top ten and they may be one of the best teams in the country. They seem destined to go the Final Four, and, dare I say, bring another National Championship back to College Park. But for that to happen, more of what I saw in last night’s win against Princeton has to happen.

Maryland has weapons. Lots of ‘em.  We’ve got Rasheed Souliman, the transfer from Duke that we’ll take any day (Thank you Coach K) and Robert Carter Jr., another transfer from GA Tech, and freshman sensation Diamond Stone (more on him in coming blogs.) And of course we’ve got Melo Trimble, a prodigy who has come of age and can score at will and dish out assists with reckless abandon. But last night, it wasn’t anyone of these stars that won the day.

Jaylen Brantley
Maryland Guard Jaylen Brantley 

Enter No. 1, Jaylaen Brantley.  Before last night, I barely knew this kid existed, and most of the Maryland faithful didn’t either. But last night, Jaylen came off the bench and lead the Terps to victory. Brantley scored 14 points on six of seven shooting, dished out two assists and grabbed two rebounds in a super, surprising and superlative show of timely talent. And he did it all in 14 minutes! And another Terp who doesn’t usually shine that brightly, senior Jake Layman, lead the team with 19 points and 8 rebounds. 

Layan averages 11.3 points per game. And Brantley averages 2.3 points per game. And yet they managed to combine for 33 points when nobody, and I do mean NOBODY expected that kind of production from either of them.

So, what’s the lesson, you say? The lesson is that the weapons that we need to defeat our foes are hidden in plain sight. The weapons that we need to survive the fierce fight and subdue the dark knight have yet to be used and utilized to their potential.

Prayer is a weapon. And it’s a weapon that shouldn’t sit on the bench but should be a starter in the game of life. And the sooner that people of faith come together and unanimously use this lethal and legitimate spiritual weapon, the better. Unity is a weapon. We are better together. Humility is a weapon. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. All of our weapons are at our disposal; we just have to use them and not forsake or lose them at the far end of the bench.

The Function of Dysfunction

august-osage-county-movie-poster

August: Osage County is a rough flick.  It’s a “family” movie with a wicked twist, so if you’re looking for a feel good, light and fluffy, family film to watch with the whole household, this is not the one to see.

That being said, this film is worth its salt. Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts bring their “A” games to the screen in this dark and dim, dismal and downbeat portrayal of a family gone wrong and family life without a victory song.

Dysfunction is on full display in this emotionally explicit and verbally visceral depiction of family failure. Director John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play August: Osage County tells the tale of the dysfunctional Westin clan, who all come together after the death of the patriarch. Meryl Streep plays the matriarch as she fights mouth cancer, a growing dependency on pain pills, her family and herself in a “how to” dissertation on dysfunction.   As the clan bickers and jokes, old truths come to the surface, jealousies flourish, and eventually each of the characters confronts some past hurt or future fear.

A team is like a family, and a family is like a team.  When there is passion and devotion, compassion and dedication, the team, and the family, will win. Without trust and transparency, honesty and humility, the team will lose. It’s that simple. On every team and in every family, without truth and temerity, sincerity and solidarity, the family will dissolve into dysfunction. And the function of dysfunction is destruction.

The function of a team is to acquire the victory and to secure the triumph.  In August: Osage County, no one wins.  No one. It is a “team” loss on all fronts. And so the vital lesson is to avoid and overcome dysfunction at all costs. Chemistry and overcoming calamity, harmony instead of heated hostility are necessities and not niceties. Accord and agreement, unity and unanimity are requisites and requirements for healthy teams and happy homes.  On the contrary, dysfunction is a sure sign and a dead giveaway of a losing and lackluster lineup.

Dysfunction is a failure to function normally. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen and experienced it at one time or another. When it’s up close and personal, it hurts all the more.

So let’s strive to function as God designed because dysfunction is NOT in God’s playbook. Let’s endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  In order to function as we were formed, we must “make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends. Remember, the Lord forgave us, so we must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13-14, New Living Translation

Amen.

Don’t Fail Chemistry

cav-big-3-640x400

The Cleveland Cavaliers have started the season 1-3. Yikes!  So the question is this: do the ”new look” Cavaliers have chemistry? The jury is still out on that one. The follow-up question is, can LeBron James pull together another championship team with a new bunch of teammates back in his hometown? The question is fairly debatable. For now, let’s collaborate on chemistry. The Apostle Paul said this:

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.                1 Corinthians 1:10, New Living Translation

I didn’t do well with high school chemistry. I think I got a “C.” I just didn’t get it. I never could memorize the Periodic Chart, and measuring just the right amount of this to add to a vile of that or a flask of the other just wasn’t my thing. But that was the hard science of laboratory chemistry. I did a lot better with chemistry outside of the classroom.

Chemistry. It’s technically defined as “the science that deals with the composition and properties of substances and various elementary forms of matter.” That’s quite a mouthful. On a lighter note, informally, chemistry means “the reaction, taken to be instinctual, between two persons.” In other words, when two people, usually a cute couple, get along and have companionship, when they love to share each other’s company and have constant comraderie, it’s said that they have “chemistry.”

In sports, chemistry is the bond of brotherhood and the kinship of community. Chemistry is the one intangible that is indispensable. Chemistry is the crucial and critical element which is needed and necessary to foster fellowship and cultivate companionship on any and every team, but especially any and every championship team.

There are some things there is no substitute for. And chemistry is one of them. Chemistry is union and unity; chemistry is harmony and conformity and every other possible synonym without any ulterior antonyms. Togetherness and oneness are as vital as the court and the rim and the ball; without them, you can’t even play the game.

Chemistry is like a good marriage. It just doesn’t happen, you work at it. Without the union of marriage in life, there can and will be no fruit or fulfillment. And without the unity and matrimony of athletes in sports, there will be only failure and fiasco and calamity and catastrophe. Without chemistry, there will be no acceptance, no agreement and no alignment on any team, and especially a championship team.

Chemistry is like charisma; either you have it or you don’t. Just ask Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Just ask Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. Just ask Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabar. Just ask any and all of the other NBA championship teammates who’ve won together. They all will say the same thing: “Together we stand, divided we fall.”

So let’s work toward passing chemistry. I love to talk about teamwork and team chemistry because of how important they are in the game of life. And in the school of life, in this class, failure is not an option. In fact, failing this subject will only lead to flunking out altogether.