Lupus?! A wha dat?!

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Tag: basketball

I couldn’t call when You were dying

I’ve let my loved ones know

That in the event I’m on a plane

And think that I have arrived

At the end

I won’t make a phone call

No terror, or reminders of love

No semblance of intimacy thousands of feet in the air

No delusions of a life wrapped with a bow

Too dissimilar to death’s scar

The jagged pieces of lives shattered to pretend that we can ever truly be prepared

Earthquakes happen so frequent

We believe it’s man’s machinations

A revelation of Revelations

Or Mother Earth’s menstrual cramps

How regular and majestic

Coupled with threats of tsunami that kept me refreshing the page until the alert fell asleep

I forced myself awake determined not to find Wednesday with news you were no more

I opened WhatsApp to close it

Texted then wiped it away

Impersonal at the very least

And that’s never my intent

So I relearned that inaction is an action

And determined that I’d rather refresh then prepare myself for a final conversation

We’ve been doing so much better!

Rebuilding what never was

Though false alarm

I’m reminded that my instinct is well founded

A monument to catastrophe

How small we are in the face of the ineffable

The Finals Next Time (Between the Knicks and Me)

  

Little fella you’ve been in this world for nearly five months now and of all that I teach you, I hope you will always remember that #ballislife.

You will be blessed to grow up in New York City, a town that has as many courts as Brooklyn has churches. I will do my best to teach you the fundamentals of the game and I pray that you love the game as much as I do. But there is one thing that I will find difficult to pass on to you. I cannot teach you this, I can only give you exposure. And exposure to this thing I speak of, this thing I hold so near and dear to my heart, may cause repulsion more than reverence. Your mother has already threatened me with divorce if you grow to embrace them as I do. Others have asked me why I would want you to suffer like I have. But I’ve paid them no mind. Trust me son, being a Knicks fan builds character.
I, your father, am too young to fully appreciate the glory days of the Knicks’ championship years. I will show you one day the great moment when Willis Reed came through the tunnel. You will know that Walt Frazier was once Clyde and played the game with style as great as his suits. 

My glory days were in the 90s when the Knicks often lost to an evil man named Michael Jordan. (An evil man who sells fly shoes, more on this later.) They also had a heated rivalry with an annoying man named Reggie Miller. This man, as you will discover when we watch the blessed game on TNT, is just as annoying broadcasting the game as he was playing it. When the day comes and you ask me, “Father, why is that skinny man so obnoxious?” I will shed a joyful tear. 

There will come a time when you will ask me why my hate for the Heat is so deep. (#FIHM) I will tell you that my hate for them is twofold. In my glory days we had a great coach named Pat Riley. He took the Knicks to the Finals in ’94 and when the owners wouldn’t give him more power (power that he truly deserved), he went to Miami. In Miami, Riley turned a floundering expansion team into a conference powerhouse. The Heat would challenge the Bulls, Pacers and my Knicks and adopted that mean style that the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons fathered. My Knicks brushed them pretty regularly (Allan Houston’s shot to eliminate them from the playoffs in ’99 is my favorite NBA moment) but the hatred was solidified during the ’96-97 playoffs when PJ Brown hip tossed Charlie Ward. 

The Knicks went from winning the series 3-1 to losing in a game 7. They suspended 9 Knicks in the series! 9! Now as you hear this I’m sure you are thinking, “that must have been a big fight.” And yes there was a pretty sincere brawl (My Knicks were always ready to throw hands.) but many of the players who were suspended as a result of merely stepping onto the court. Including, my favorite Knick of all time, Patrick Ewing. Ewing is the most deserving of all legends who never won a ring and #FIHM because he should have won one that year.

You may be thinking, “Wow Father, that does not seem like enough reason to hate the Miami Heat forever (not to be confused with hatred for the city of Miami. After all it is gorgeous and not Boston.)” and perhaps you are right.

 I must admit my hate for them began to subside after Allan Houston hit that glorious runner against them and as my Knicks faded from conference relevance. But that hatred roars again because of the summer of 2010. A mere five years before your existence, I know son, but it is the summer of my discontent. 

That summer I anticipated LeBron James joining my Knicks and bringing the first championship we have experienced since 1973. But that did not happen. LeBron would go to Miami and win 2 championships then return home to Cleveland. You will learn that LeBron is a good enough player to take a team to the Finals by himself and most definitely could have won us a championship. So I admit, I am bitter. I had no reason to believe LeBron was coming to my Knicks but I was hurt when he did not. I have forgiven him but my hate for the Heat rages on.

So what will we do? I am certain you will love this game and can see an attraction budding as you watch the screen intently as I play 2K. I will not pressure you, simply expose you to Knicks games and hopefully take you to the Garden, the world’s most famous arena. Your mother wants you to be a Warriors fan and I cannot blame you if you do. Children are often frontrunners and they will be good for a long time. Just please, promise me you will never cheer for the Bulls, Celtics, Heat, or Pacers. You’re a Brooklyn kid though. So if you end up cheering for the Nets I will not judge you, I will only laugh. 

Wardell ain’t playin’ wit y’all 

  

“I apologize for us being healthy…I apologize for all the accolades we received as a team and individually. I’m very, truly sorry, and we’ll rectify that situation this year.”

– #CurryGOAT
I can’t help it. Whenever I read that quote, I hear “Takeover” playing in the background. Folks stay wanting to switch up the narrative, like we weren’t alive during the history. 

Let’s not pretend that the Golden State Warriors are the first team in league history to win a championship with some fortunate breaks. (Shoot, I still maintain that my ’96-97 Knicks would have given the Bulls the blues if the whole team didn’t get suspended during the Heat series. Forever I hate Miami. #FIHM) 

Yes Durant was hurt, yes the Spurs and Clippers got eliminated and Cleveland would have been a different team if Kyrie and Love were healthy. But what’s lost in the sauce with all that conjecture are the facts. 

Remember when the Finals were winding down and there was significant buzz about giving LeBron the MVP even in a losing effort? I was a fan of that idea because LeBron was otherworldly in that series. But that doesn’t mean Cleveland wins in a parallel universe where Kyrie and Love are injury free. LeBron’s superhuman playing would have changed during the Finals with Kyrie and Love there to share the load. And anybody watching basketball last season would be truly hating from the sidelines if they wanna pretend that the best team didn’t win the chip.

I used to get annoyed when I heard people endorsing anyone but #CurryGOAT for MVP last season. In retrospect, I can see how a reasonable case for James Harden can be made. But you guys really need to think this through. Before the reckless talking, hemming and hawing, I honestly wasn’t sure Golden State could run it back. But now? #Currypeat 

Every great is always looking for fuel to motivate them. A little extra to feed the hunger for more. You yentas done took Steph to Costco. 

I didn’t like it when I heard Steph sarcastically say that “we’ll rectify that situation this year.” But I was limited. I heard it as rectify=we fitna lose. But nah, not Steph. He don’t slack a minute. Steph is out here warning y’all that he’s about to leave no doubt who the “top shotta” is. Y’all done walked into Lennox’s house while he’s watching soccer and shot the place up?! You know who you a ramp wid?! Please leave it alone, don’t throw rocks at the throne. 

Cleaning My Lens

The second sermon I delivered this summer while interning at All Souls Presbyterian Church. 

Chris Burton

7.13.2014

All Souls Presbyterian Church

Cleaning My Lens (Romans 8:1-11)

 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, ESV)

 

I’m a creature of habit. Once I get something I like I usually stick with it. I might have five favorite restaurants in town but that would mean I just get five different meals. I’ve been buying a clean version of the same sneaker for over a decade now. I’ve got other shoes that I like but always want a pair of crisp Nike Cortez in my rotation. My mom has been trying to get me to buy a new phone for a year now. It has a slight, very fine crack on the screen but it doesn’t bother me so I haven’t gotten it replaced. Even these glasses! I have had them for three years now, which is no good, but I like them and haven’t been straining my eyes too much so changing them has not been as much of a priority as it should be. Truth be told, I would not even have them if it weren’t for my time as a middle school basketball coach where one of my point guards obliterated an older pair during practice. They looked a lot like these and I’d probably still be peering over them to this day.

 

So yes, I confess, I get attached. I like what I like and I’m sure that I have developed a formidable resistance to change. This is not always good. Routines can afford us stability, and stability is socially acceptable but what do we do when said routine is a bit more constricting than mere stability? What do we do when we get stuck?

 

Our faults, our shortcomings, our sin, our shame. All these conspire within us, trapping us in a perverse cycle. We say things we wish we did not say, we do things that we know we ought not to do.

 

Last week we heard Rev. Keyes illustrate the inner turmoil using the apostles’ words. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, ESV) Paul articulates the war that rages inside of us all. Knowing better and doing better aren’t always a packaged deal. Our actions can betray us. No matter how disciplined we are, and successful we have become, we are all susceptible to failure.

 

As much as I am moved by the poem Invictus, my relationship with Jesus Christ calls me to thoroughly disagree with the last stanza.

“It matters not how strait the gate,

     How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

     I am the captain of my soul.” 

I pray that I may never desire to be the master of my fate. I’ve tried it my way and have proven myself unqualified for the job. I have come to find no profit in being the captain of my soul.

 

Paul’s letter is good news for all us. You may not fashion yourself to be a creature of habit but the truth is, living life on our own terms is a recipe for failing habitually. Submitting ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ is an acknowledgment that we have no business being captain.

 

Let us look at Verses 3 and 4 once more:

 

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

Recently I began asking God to equip me to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit daily. Galatians 5:22-23 tell us that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV) It has been said that “The fruits of the Spirit, or effects of sanctification, which are begun in us, do not ingraft us into Christ, but declare that we are grafted into him.” 

 

There is nothing you or I can do to earn God’s love. There is no hope for us in and of ourselves. Our hope is in Christ. The kindness that we demonstrate, the love that we have, any and all of the fruits of the Spirit are there as evidence of the work God is doing in us. In my preparation I encountered this quote from William Barclay that resonates, “Because of what Jesus did, there opens out to the Christian a life no longer dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit of God, which fills a man with a power not his own. The penalty of the past is removed and strength for his future is assured.” (Barclay, William. The Letter to the Romans (Revised Edition) Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975 p.103)

Forgiving yourself because you have been forgiven. Step out of the shade of shame and walk in the Son’s light.

Bitterness can corrupt. I remember praying for God to give me forgiveness. I knew that I was at risk of phoniness, in danger of proclaiming a hollow gospel if I did not walk in forgiveness. I prayed for forgiveness so much that it became a part of my daily routine. From time to time I would imagine dry soil, almost like red clay and I’d see a tiller pulling up that soil, breaking its hardness. And I would see this image again and again. I didn’t correlate the two, my prayer and my vision until much later but I am confident that I am able to demonstrate forgiveness because of the good work that the Lord has done in me. Matthew Henry once noted that “By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us.” I am free to walk in forgiveness because of the Spirit that dwells in me.

 

I believe that forgiveness is a central component of our faith. Through Christ we have been forgiven. How can we follow Him and not extend forgiveness toward others? I have no doubt that it is a process, a journey too arduous to complete on our own. But I am even more confident that it is one we can complete through yielding to the Spirit and forfeiting any claims to the captaincy of our lives.

 

We’ve heard the story from our Old Testament reading several times and it never stops amazing me to hear of Esau’s forgiveness.

 

Esau stands with Joseph, the prodigal son’s father and Our Father who chose to show solidarity instead of shame.

 

Living a life free from the burden of our failures isn’t done by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

Let us seek the Father daily. Ask for the Spirit to till our hearts and nourish us so that we bear the fruit that is pleasing in God’s sight.

 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

 

Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: “Uncle Drew: Chapter 3”

Josh Powell’s Chase-Down Swat

Jeremy Lin Takes Taiwan by Storm

Jeremy Lin keeping it all the way real

Starting at 1:06:22, Jeremy goes in depth about linsanity, his struggles as a Houston Rocket and how his faith in Christ kept him through it all.

I Ain’t Scared of You Nets!

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I never expected this. Months ago, as chatter regarding this draft was beginning to bubble, my excitement waned and I even considered missing the draft a possibility. Certainly wasn’t going to break an appointment for this lackluster class. But as the days drew closer and closer I grew intrigued. Something about this draft just felt right. Seems like slow cooking with this group of guys. No hot and readies in the bunch but only time will tell if this draft class is Grimaldi’s or Ellio’s.

But the big news of the draft, and offseason thus far, was the Nets’ acquisitions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. I never considered the Nets rivals because this past season was the first time both teams mattered at the same time. (Remember when the Knicks tried to follow Tim Thomas (!) into a minor beef that left the Knicks swept? Fugazy.) It wasn’t enough for the Nets to ruin a chant from my birthplace but now they have recruited two chief Knicks antagonists as mercenaries. My disgust is placated by two beliefs:

1. ESPN might as well have put an epitaph on the News Ticker.  The Celtics are thoroughly finished. As an NBA fan I believe the league needs the Celtics and Lakers to be strong franchises but I can’t front. I loathe all Boston teams. Rebuilding mode means my Knicks can breathe without the ghost of Red Auerbach tapdancing on our heads.

 

2. This trade will afford the upcoming season terrific theatre which is why I’m here. The only thing better than world class basketball is world class basketball coupled with a storyline.

As a Knicks fan it felt weird to be pleased with the front office’s decisions but I am unreasonably excited about Tim Hardaway Jr donning the blue and orange. Maybe it’s the sweet vengeance of knowing that his father, our longtime nemesis, will be forced to reluctantly cheer for the Knicks but moreover I think the kid can flat out play. Melo needs players who can help him spread the floor and Hardaway will definitely aid in this cause. He’s prolly my 3rd favorite player in this draft behind Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter Jr. (I think time will show that Oladipo is the best player in this class and I won’t be surprised if the Wizards use Otto’s two way greatness to claw their way to the 9th or 10th seed.) Draft night left the Knicks with only one move but they seem to be ready to retool this offseason. We’ve gone from Discount Double Check to Discount Dirk (or Bargain Bargnani as his friends call him). I don’t think this trade is a direct response to the Nets but is another instance of the Knicks confusing short sightedness with being in “win-now” mode. It feels so silly sometimes. 

I think if you pressure Nets fans they will admit that this trade does not put them in the conversation with the Miami Heat. (Truth be told, with a healthy D. Rose on the Bulls, and an Indiana squad that’s only going to be better, these Nets may not even have home court in the playoffs.)

Getting those grumpy old men from Beantown may pay off in the regular season but leave them with an empty bag come playoff time. No chips.

 

 

The Beautiful Game

 

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I wanna play basketball for the rest of my life. Many of my life decisions (at least my school decisions) have been through the lens of a basketball fiend.

 

When making the move from public to private school, I had dreams of getting glory on varsity. (Nevermind that I was an incoming 7th grader)

 

In high school I frustrated my college counselor to no end because while he wanted me to look at the bevy of liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, I was looking at schools that were in the AP top 25. (For what it’s worth, we met halfway. Davidson is a top liberal arts college and a bastion of getting buckets. So good, so good.)

 

Basketball got me through my first year of seminary.

 

I collected all the microaggressions throughout the week and left them at the altar.

 

The court was my sanctuary.

 

Even as lupus was beginning to rear its head basketball got me through. I was in the bed battling pneumonia and texting my coach partner for our 7th grade boys’ score. (My wife had to threaten me, lovingly of course, not to go to practice.)

 

My hospitalization in Feb 2012 coincided with Linsanity (also known as one of my favorite times to be a Knicks fan ever). God knows it was a tremendous comfort for me to see my Knicks on tv so often (I was in Charlotte at the time) and a beautiful escape since they were actually winning.

 

The illness brought fatigue and tremendous fluctuations in weight but it could not take basketball from me. My meetings with doctors often included the inevitable question, “So…when can I play ball again?”

 

A little over a year has passed since the worst of everything and I’ve only dabbled in playing ball since. In those moments I was reminded of how much I treasure the game and challenged because of the road I have ahead of me. My touch (I’ve always likened my game to that of a poor man’s Sam Perkins) is not what it used to be and I’m working to get my lungs where I need them to truly enjoy playing.

 

Doin’ It In The Park” and “The Doctor” rekindled my love for pick up ball. I spent my elementary school days learning the game at Soul in the Hole and I count The Cage on West 4th as one of my favorite fortresses of solitude. I’m getting better for a variety of reasons and thank God that basketball is a source of hope. My dreams of winning a championship for my beloved blue and orange will never come true but my days of getting buckets on the blacktop never have to die.

 

Brian Mooney

Educator, Scholar, Author

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