Friday, March 26, 2010

Some Basketball Thoughts. . . .

First off. . .the college game:

--One of the eye-opening things about this year's March Madness has been the upsets. There is alot more parity in the college game now, and many of the "upsets" probably shouldn't have been labeled that way. The talent was equal or close on both sides.

One of the reasons for that is early departure for the NBA. . think about some of the super teams Kansas or North Carolina would have if guys played until their senior year. . . wow. But, since the ringers leave early, the big teams don't have the depth they once did, and so they're vulnerable.

--Because of that, one of the big things people don't realize is that when talent is close, or almost equal. . . scheme beats talent every time. Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova, etc. . were all beaten by teams that actually run plays. The players on these big schools think that they should already be in the NBA, and thus don't need to run an offense, and just jack up bad shots, drive into traffic, and throw the ball away and everything will be ok, because they can win a dunk contest. Wrong. Ask Ali Frokmanesh from UNI what he thinks about that! By the way, I"m not sure Ali can dunk at all, but he took down Kansas.

--If you watch UNI, Cornell, Butler, St. Mary's, etc. . .they run a specific scheme with specific plays for specific players.
Syracuse was so bad on offense last night , (my pick for the title, by the way), it was unwatchable. . . everyone thinking they were Allen Iverson. sheesh.

--However, sometimes the talent gap is large enough that it doesn't matter. This is what Cornell ran into last night against Kentucky, and it's team of "one year and then the NBA" players. Rick Reilly has a hilarious column about this. . here's my favorite quote:

One of Cornell's players, Eitan Chemerinski, did a Rubik's cube in less than three minutes earlier this year. He's the one who speaks five languages. "He's learning Mandarin now, for fun," said a Cornell spokesman. But as 6-foot-11, 275-pound UK freshman center DeMarcus Cousins said before the game, "This ain't a spelling bee."

No, indeed it isn't :). (quote of the year. . .bad grammer and all).

But, unless you're trotting out DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall. . . run some plays, or you won't last with the tall, dead eye shooting, midwestern boys.

And now the sad state of the Nuggets.

--Well, the Nugs picked a bad time to self-destruct. The reasons are many. . they don't have their coach, their best defender, or their backup point guard. Still, the other night in Boston was UGLY. I Hope they can pull it together on this trip.

--All that to say, we know what this team is. . .we've seen it all year. And, so if it holds that Coach Karl and Kmart are back by the playoffs. . we have a chance against anyone. Even if we drop all the way to the 8 seed and play the Lakers in the first round, no biggie. We have a great team that is great when all the parts are there.

--Oh yeah, let's dispense with the discussion on how valuable George Karl is to this team. Umm. . they need him. Enough said.

--I'm not jumping off the Nuggets bandwagon, but I don't think we keep the 2 seed. . and we might fall all the way to the 4 seed. Again, show me who's on our roster on April 16th, and I"ll tell you my prediction. Not before.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What I needed to hear today. . . .

Wow. This is a great post. Let me recommend a new blog for your RSS. . . Scotty Smith, a pastor from Nashville, has a blog where he posts a prayer every day. They are rich and full of great stuff. Here's today's prayer:

A Prayer About Knowing the Will of God

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Dear heavenly Father, the peace, humility and joy this promise brings to my heart is simply immeasurable. You are the God who is vitally engaged in determining and directing my very steps in life. You are the God who is working all things together after the counsel of your will. You are the God who works in all things for your glory and for our good. You are the God who opens doors no man can shut and who shuts doors no man can open. Indeed, you are no mere life coach, loving Father, you are the Lord of all things, including me.

For way too many years I labored under the arrogance and anxiety of assuming that if I prayed hard enough and long enough… that if I was really filled with and “tuned” into the Holy Spirit, I could know the specifics of your will for my life well in advance of any decision that needed to be made. Of course, my assumption was that if I was in your will, life would be enjoyable, pleasant and hassle-free.

If I bought the right car, it would never break down. If I bought the right house, the roof would never leak. If I married the right person, we would never disagree. If I went to the right college I’d get the right job and life would be all-right. If I sent my kids to the right school, they would never act out and would end up on the mission field. What a self-centered and wrong way to do life… kind of reminds me of idolatry…

Father, I will continue to seek to make good plans in my heart, according to the revelation of your Word, for I can be confident that you will never lead me contrary to the Scriptures. I will continue to seek out and heed the wise and prayerful counsel of godly friends, who care about your glory and kingdom.

But I live with even more peace, humility and joy… confidant that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and not just a consulting partner… a very present Lord, not an absentee landlord… the reigning King, not in impotent bystander. Because of Jesus, I am confident that your will WILL be done on earth as it is in heaven. So very Amen, I pray, in his sovereign and to-be-savored name.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thinking about Family

I've come across some interesting articles/sermons related to family this week on this new thing called the World Wide Web, or as my brother, Trev, and I say, "the internets" :) .

This story in The Economist was scary and sad. Albert Mohler has a great commentary here. . .check it out, it's a quick read.

What do you do with something like that? It's sad. We should fight against injustice, call a spade a spade, and mostly, pray.

I also think there's an opposite mistake to make; that is, idolizing your family. This is definitely more common in the West. I see it all the time, even in my own heart. There's a great sermon that's worth 30 minutes of your time here, from Rev. Kevin DeYoung.

Why do we as American parents struggle so much with guilt, burnout, imbalance (fatigue, sickness), and sin, (anxiety, drugs, affairs) in our life?

I think Rev. DeYoung has an answer for us here. You're not going to hear this sermon very often at church. I never have, as a matter of fact. But, we need to hear this. . .we need to hear Jesus' words about family and let them sink in. I hope all the parents out there will take some time to listen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why Phil Jackson is scary.

As Mark Jackson would say. . . ."Phil Jackson is a bad, bad man".

Here's what happened in the last 15 seconds of the Lakers/Magic game, . . and why even though they look very vulnerable this year, you still have to fear the Lakers.

So, Vince Carter is at the free throw line trying to put the Magic up by 3 points with 9.7 seconds left. The Lakers have one 20-second timeout left to use.

Vince bricks the first free throw. The Camera pans over to Phil Jackson and his assistant coaches. One of them must have asked "Should we call time out if he makes this?". . . the reason I think that is because the camera catches Phil turning to his assistant, shaking his head and saying "It's 9.7 seconds, it's perfect". What? What exactly is perfect about that? Phil is playing mind games. . that's what. Phil is in their head. . . . .almost.

Vince makes the 2nd free throw and Kobe takes the ball out, goes up court, and misses the game tying shot, . . no timeout taken.

My observations:

--Kobe after the game said "Even though we lost, we saw what we wanted to see" What? This is what comes with being a champion and having ultimate pride, er. confidence in your game

--Many times coaches won't call timeouts at the end of games because they want to catch the defense off-balance. And Phil usually skips timeouts to let his players figure stuff out for themselves on the floor. But, that wasn't the case here. . . It was a made free-throw and the Magic were waiting for the Kobers, er. Lakers.

--Which brings me to my next point. . . Kobe is the worst passer with 10 seconds left in the game that I've ever seen. Phil even gives him this look afterwards like "M.J. would've passed that to Paxson". Kobe has guys wide open all over the floor and takes a terrible shot each time. Sometimes, he makes them. It cost him in the Finals last year, and it won't be the last time. Kobe needs to remember that John Paxson, and Steve Kerr won 2 titles for M.J. . .and when M.J. hit his iconic shot over Bryon Russell. . . he wasn't double covered.

--Carmelo does not have the same problem, and is way, way more clutch than Kobe.

--This is a microcosm of why other teams should simultaneously fear the Lakers and consider them vulnerable. They have ultimate confidence: "9.7 seconds. . it's perfect". . . they also brick off-balance jumpers and go into the lockeroom and say "we saw what we wanted to see". Pride comes before a fall, and before a championship. We'll see which direction the Lakers take.

For Next Year's Oscars. . . . .

They had me at "Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah Gibson"

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rock. . .meet Hard Place

It is with much fear and trepidation that I wade into the Health Care debate, but I can refrain no longer. Please, if you disagree with this post, don't take it personally, I have no personal problems with any current proponent of the Health Care Bill. I want to be friends. . . I would rather there be less party affiliation, and less partisan politics. . . .alas.

I like alot of what Pres. Obama is doing overseas. I like the "drone" war. I like our foreign relations. I like Hillary's tough stances with Iran. I like.

I don't like this bill. I don't like it at all. I think the Republicans make so much sense here. Why not have an incremental approach? Why not go step by step? The President said yesterday, "The American people deserve a vote on this bill". Mr. President, the American people are divided over this bill and have told their congressmen so. That's why it's taking so long. Why not start over. . . .why not pass some smaller stuff first? I'm fine, . . .really I am. . . don't feel like I deserve anything that hasn't happened already.

I remind you, this is coming from a guy who is still getting hosed by his insurance company for things that happened 4 years ago. I was also kicked off of an insurance plan 7 weeks before the birth of Eden, my 2nd daughter, because the insurance company wasn't making enough money and ended that particular plan.

I"m no big business tycoon. I'm getting hammered right now by insurance companies. And, I still think this bill would be a disaster.

I won't go into economics here, but that's my main objection. It's not fiscally tenable and they all know it. But, more important than that, is the back-door nature of the abortion language in the bill. Listen to Rep. Bart Stupak ( a democrat. . . .and not in name only, like a Joe Lieberman or something. . .this guy is a real democrat)

Via POLITICO Playbook:

BREAKING — Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), author of anti-abortion language in the House health-care bill, tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” that he’s willing to bring down the final bill if abortion language isn’t changed: “[T]he bill that they are using as a vehicle is the Senate bill. If you go to page 2069 through page 2078, you would find in there the federal government would directly subsidize abortions, plus every enrollee in the Office of Personnel management plan, every enrollee has to pay a minimum of $1 per month toward reproductive rights which includes abortion. … [W]e’re not going to vote for this bill with that kind of language in there.” …

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Let me be clear here. If the president doesn’t change the language, if your language is not accepted, you and your 11 colleagues who voted yes the last time will vote no this time. Does that mean you’re prepared to take responsibility for bringing down this whole bill?”

STUPAK: “Yes, we’re prepared to take responsibility. I mean, I’ve been catching it ever since last fall. Let’s face it, I want to see health care. But we’re not going to bypass some principles and beliefs that we feel strongly about.”


And to that I say. . . . "Go on Rep. Stupak. . stick to your guns. And, don't get bought out like my former state's senator. That was a sham, Ben Nelson.

Ok, let's the fireworks begin, but please read the disclaimer at the beginning of this post before commenting.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just Because. . .

Just Because:

This is the most powerful music video ever made and probably validates the genre in the last 10 years. (can't think of many more redeeming examples recently)

Just Because:

Rick Rubin makes you feel the truth and grit in Cash's vocals with this production. Also, if anyone can let me in on how he recorded the piano and cellos on this track. . . . I'd love to know, it's amazing.

Just Because:

The cut backs to Cash's career are chilling,. . . his t.v. show, his rugged good looks, his vanity. And, then the imagery of a man months away from death.

Just Because:

You don't often get a song stolen from you. . . but sorry, Trent Reznor, you (unwittingly) wrote that song for Johnny Cash. It's his.

Just Because:

Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Lakers vs. Nuggets

The most popular feature of this blog. . . nuggets talk:

Well, that was a tough loss yesterday. . . we'll go good news/bad news:

The Good News:

Still not scared of the Lakers. Carmelo had 8 turnovers and played terrible. We didn't have Ty Lawson in the 2nd half, who kills the Lakers. Lamar Odom played out of his mind and had a 20-10. The refs let Ron Artest play football whilst the other 9 players played basketball. And still. . . .
This game was tied up with 3 minutes left. The Nuggets had their chances and blew it.

The Bad News:

Kobe also played terrible (although forced into it by Aaron Afflalo's clutch D!), it seemed like Ron Artest got in Carmelo's head a little throughout the 2nd half. The Ref's let this happen, but Carmelo has to be better than that, and has to pull out of it and find his teammates. . . . like Kobe did. I think Carmelo has to prove he can play a better mental game next time. That part did not bode well for the playoffs.

The Good News:

Our bigs are no longer intimidated by the Lakers'. First off, Nene owns Bynum. . .that's right, owns him. The Lakers should start Odom against the Nuggets because Bynum wants no part of Kmart or Nene. Birdman also played respectable and Gasol did not have his way with anyone. (by the way, that Gasol quote has to be the lamest post-game quote in history "The nuggets talk too much. . .way too much"--Paul Gasol. Ummm, that's because we've owned you guys this year so far.

I think I like Gasol less than Kobe, way less. His gives no respect to Kenyon Martin who's out there hurt and outplaying him. (oh yeah, Kmart only shot 2-9 though. . .that hurt us)

The Best News:

The next Nuggets/Lakers game will be an absolute (barring injury) grudge match on April 8th, and I have tickets. Bring it, Gasol!!!