Sunday, March 13, 2016

What The Spurs Could Teach The Rest Of Us

I'm not a big fan of the NBA. I don't have cable where most regular season games are shown. When it gets to the finals, I usually watch, especially if the series is close or compelling or both. ABC has been airing a game each Saturday night with some good matchups. Last night, it was the San Antonio Spurs versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. I only know that because Criminal Minds was running late on CBS, delaying the 9 PM start of one of the few shows I watch, the news drama, 48 Hours. I'm not into Criminal Minds- too disturbing- so I flipped the station to ABC to watch several minutes of basketball while I was waiting. I'm glad I did. Jeff Van Gundy, the former head coach of the Houston Rockets, was doing color commentary. JVG, as he's often called, is one of the few broadcasters I like to listen to- I always learn when he is waxing eloquent about the game or the NBA or certain players. (I even met him once when he hosted a WCS fundraiser; very funny and glib!) Last night, he was talking about the phenomenal long-term success the Spurs have enjoyed under coach Gregg Popovich. They are good every year and every player on their roster seems to be a high character guy. Van Gundy related how Pop, as Popovich is often called, divulged to him a secret of his team's excellence. He said the Spurs are very empathetic to each other. When one of them misses a shot or turns the ball over or makes a silly foul, the team moves on. No finger pointing or accusing looks. They are professionals who understand they all make mistakes and they let it go. And JVG stated it all starts with Tim Duncan, the patriarch of the squad. Maybe that's why you NEVER hear of discord among the players. Maybe that's why they are in the middle of a 41 game home winning streak, the third longest in the history of the National Basketball Association. Maybe that's a lesson the world at large could use......and subtract the maybe.

What a mess our world is in. Maybe it's no worse than before but instant communications both exaggerate and exacerbate the problem. Racial hatred and ethnic hatred. Political and socioeconomic and gender mistrust. Social media, which can play a vital positive role in staying in touch, has become the clearing house of vitriol from all stripes of the spectrum. And yet Paul told the followers of Christ in Galatians 6:2 that we should, 
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  
And Peter taught this in 1 Peter 3:15: 
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..."
Nothing in either passage about caving on our beliefs. But wouldn't we be better off by showing kindness to those who disagree with us instead of trying to outshout them, especially fellow believers? We aren't going to agree with everyone and some points of view are absolutely against Biblical doctrine. But that shouldn't turn us into jerks. Gregg Popovich has the reputation of being gruff and even downright cantankerous. Still, you have to give him this: his teams do it the right way. Empathy covers over and can defuse a whole lot of the animosity which is running roughshod over our fractured society. And empathy shouldn't be contained by the 94 foot painted boundaries of an NBA basketball court. 

Applicable quote of the day:
"Because you were born to these parents or this area geographically, or this situation, you deserve more than somebody else? ... That's the most false notion one can imagine. But I think a lot of people forget that. They think that they're entitled to what they have ... So we talk about those things all the time. You have no excuse not to work your best. You have no reason not to be thankful every day that you have the opportunity to come back from a defeat, because some people never even have the opportunity."
Gregg Popovich (after the Spurs lost in the 2013 NBA finals)

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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