Russell Westbrook for MVP

512px-Russell_WestbrookThe Oklahoma City Thunder marketing office called our church a couple of months ago, saying they were offering special deals for church groups.  So we got some folks together and got tickets to last Tuesday’s game.  They were playing the Milwaukee Bucks, the only other NBA team that I’ve seen in person.  The Thunder game began with a local pastor giving a Christian invocation–how common is that in professional sports?  (tell me if you know)–and after lots of opening razzle dazzle, the game settled in.  The Thunder won 110 to 79.  A good time was had by all.

We got to witness Thunder star Russell Westbrook tie the record for triple doubles (double figures in points scored, rebounds, and assists [passing the ball that leads to a basket]).  We can tell our grandchildren that we were there when Westbrook ties Oscar Robertson’s record of 41 triple doubles set back in 1962.  Actually, it will be easy for me to tell my grandchildren, since a number of them were with us and witnessed it too.  The next game Westbrook didn’t make a triple double, but he made enough rebounds so that his average performance for the year was a triple double.  And Sunday, Westbrook set the record after leading his team to a comeback win over Denver, which was leading 10 points in the last two minutes.  Westbrook scored 50 points.

The entire state of Oklahoma is Thunder crazy.  Kevin Durant was everyone’s hero until he signed with the hated Golden State Warriors.  But Westbrook stayed with the team!  One fan started a petition to change the name of Durant, Oklahoma, a small town that had that name long before the Thunder was even thought of.  The petitioners wanted to change the name of Durant to Westbrook, which is actually a good name for a town.  So, of course, all Oklahomans think Westbrook should win the league’s MVP award.

But how could he not win it?  Not only has he made history with his triple doubles.  He leads the league in points scored!  And yet some pundits and fans are championing former-Thunder James Harden of the Houston Rockets.  After the jump, I will make the case why Westbrook is the NBA’s most valuable player. [Read more…]

Super Bowl post-mortem

13976579960_02e0de6bdb_zWhat a great Super Bowl.  New England was down by 25 points late in the third quarter, but came back to force the first overtime in Super Bowl history, whereupon Tom Brady marched his team down the field for a winning touchdown.  This was the biggest comeback ever in the championship series.  Although I was pulling for Atlanta–which played superbly for most of the game–that was a fun game to watch.  If I were more invested in a team (if the Packers were playing and lost in a similar way), I wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much, but unlike many Super Bowl games, this one was a thriller.

The commercials were not all that annoying this year.  My favorites:  The animated yearbook pictures of famous people, though I don’t recall what product they were advertising, which sort of defeats the purpose.  The Melissa McCarthy environmentalist Kia ad was hilarious. But, though I may have missed some, I didn’t see any that were overtly sexual, distasteful, or sensationalistic, as has become common in Super Bowl ads.  There were a few that featured immigrants, a fraught topic at the moment, but none of them seemed overly political or in the Hollywood protest mode.

Even the frequently outrageous Lady Gaga in her halftime show didn’t protest Donald Trump or scandalize the nation, from what I could tell.  She even worked in some patriotic numbers, along with her visual spectacle as filmed by drones.

We even threw a little party, which added to the experience.  So this was for me a rarely satisfying Super Bowl.

What do you have to say about it?

 

Illustration by Jack Kurzenknabe, www.photosketching.com, Public Domain.

The Superbowl and vocation

Falcons_vs_Redskins_2006The Superbowl is this weekend, time for the obligatory polls about whether or not God gets involved in the outcome of sporting events.  One-quarter of Americans believe that he does.  About a half believe that God rewards faithful athletes with health and success.

Certainly, the easy answer is that of course God doesn’t care about a sporting event because He has much more important things to do.  But if God attends to the fall of a sparrow, why wouldn’t He attend to the fall of a pigskin?

The real problem is that all this assumes a theology of glory (God’s favor = success).  But what would a Lutheran approach to this question be like?

The answer to where is God in the Superbowl would have to be in vocation.  Athletes on both sides should do their best with their God-given talents.  Furthermore, they should love and serve their neighbors when they play.  Their neighbors would be their teammates, the viewing public, their opponents.  So they shouldn’t cheat, make cheap hits that needlessly harm their opponents, etc.  And they should know that God is just as likely to break them with trials and tribulations, if that is what they need so as to depend on Hi.

Other than that, things just have to play out.  Can anything else be said on this topic? [Read more…]

So why the loss of interest in the NFL?

9791303373_196450407d_zTelevision ratings are way down for professional football games.  The NFL is trying to figure out why the sudden loss of interest.

I have to say that I am not as interested in the games as I used to be, even last year, and I’m not sure why.  I don’t think it’s just because the Packers aren’t doing all that well.  I saw them through rougher times.  And it’s not because the games are too long.  I like long games.  And it’s not because Colin Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag.  He’s getting sacked so much that a patriotic fan might take some satisfaction in watching that.  I’m just kind of tired of it.  I still get excited about College Football (go Sooners!) and I’ve started following the NBA (go Thunder!).  But the NFL is giving me a “meh” feeling.

So let me consult you.  Are you still following NFL games as avidly as you used to?  If not, why not? [Read more…]

The teams with longest championship drought made the World Series

The two teams that have gone the longest without winning a championship are in the World Series this year.  The Chicago Cubs last won it all in 1908. The Cleveland Indians won it in 1948.

That these two teams have conquered their respective leagues should be encouraging news for all other losers.

I’m pulling for the Cubs, in honor of my late father, a die-hard Cubs fan.

Which team are you for?  Why?  What are your predictions?

What you need to know about the series, after the jump.

[Read more…]

Question for Colin Kaepernick

My cousin Bob Foote has a question for Colin Kaepernick and other athletes protesting the American flag because of how this country treats black people:

During the Civil War, some 500,000 men gave their lives to end slavery.  They fought and died under what flag?