"As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming toward her..." (C S Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia)

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Boston Celtics and life

I'm a huge Celtics fan. Been one since I was a boy. This year was magical for me to see the Celtics win the whole thing. I'm glad the season is over, for the simple reason that I spent way too much time watching games (pre-season, season, and post-season). But I have to say I learned alot about life and ministry from watching the Celtics. I'm serious, this isn't a stretch either. In fact, Jess was telling me how happy she was that she could point to the Celtics as a model for sportsmanship in talking to our son. Here's a list of characteristics that I think the Celtics displayed that transfer over to other aspects of life:

1) Be willing to make big changes. The celtics were the 2nd worse team in the league last year until they made HUGE changes in the off season. They basically pulled a 180 in terms of their game plan and took enormous risks. Jobs, futures, big money, and whatever else was on the line, and they did it anyway. They took a lot of heat for it.

2) Leadership must lead. Sounds simple, but without KG the Celtics would never have won. No one, since I've been watching Basketball, has as much passion and intensity as KG. The guy would literally not sleep between games just focusing on what needs to be done. He's insane to watch (In my extremely biased oppinion, I think he was the league MVP). That set the tone for the whole team.

3) Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork. When Paul Pierce was injured in the first game, the coach turned to his players and said "That's why we play 12 guys". The reason why this season worked is because big egos were willing to play like a team instead of looking for their own glory. All their personal stats were down, but they ended up with the best record in the league and a ring.

4) Good coaching. Doc Rivers isn't the most masterful strategist. I found myself questioning him a lot. But what he is, is a player's coach. He has a good reputation with all his players. They love him, he loves them. He's straight forward with them. That relationship took them all the way to the Championship.

5) Hard Work. As the saying goes 'Offense wins games, Defense wins championships.' The difference, offense is hit or miss (excuse the pun), defense is all about how hard your willing to work. Ray Allen's work out ethic was so exemplary that Pierce decided to adopt it as his own. These guys starting working out together before the coaches even called them together. Allen shows up 2 hours before ever game I believe and goes through the same shooting routine. Hard work.

6) Humility. That word is seldom used in pro sports. But it was evident among the Celtics. After virtually every win the Celtics would respond the same way, "We saw some things we did badly, and we know we can do better." KG wouldn't take photos without Pierce and Allen with him, because he didn't want it to be all about him. They wouldn't insult other teams or players, even when asked point blank about them. In fact they would often comment on the ability or skill of their opponents.

7) Integrity. Doc Rivers (the coach) continually modeled it for his players. Stop arguing with the officials and play the game boys. When asked about the 'officiating scandal' Doc responded by saying 'I have know question about the integrity of our officials.' Pierce cleaned his bad boy antics up for the whole season. They were the class act of the league. (One criticism: KG and the F-bomb. It's pretty easy to read his lips)

8) Perseverance. Some personal struggles (Doc and his father's death) and some sport struggles. After struggling mightily in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they simply kept pressing on. Numerous injuries and they played hurt. Love it.

9) Respect for tradition. The players were constantly surrounded by old celtic greats like Bill Russell and Havlicek. Their response: respect. They would continually talk about what an honor it was for them to play for a team with so much tradition and history. These guys paved the way for the current generation.

10) Masculinity. They were a nitty-gritty tough time. Diving on the floor for loose balls, bumping hard for rebounds, and even getting into a few shoving matches time and again. I don't care for dirty players, but there is a time to man-up and stand your ground. The Celtics did that. They were a tough, strong, and grind it out team every game.

Every one of these is something that can transfer into other aspects of life, even ministry.

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