Some Advice for Lebron James

Images-27 Lebron James is possibly the greatest basketball player on the planet today. I like him. He is a gifted athlete and has a rare set of skills that are a joy and inspiration to watch ... when he is playing well.

About five months ago, Lebron's contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers ended and he decided to sign a new contract with the Miami Heat. Nothing wrong with that. Players do that. It was his choice to make ... just like Gary Ablett Jnr decided to sign with Gold Coast after playing for Geelong for so many years.

However, the way Lebron went about announcing his decision was wrong. "The Decision", as it is now referred to, was made publicly on national television and the owner of the Cavaliers, along with the coach, Lebron's teammates and all of the fans ... found out at the same time. This was disrespectful, to say the least, and has been a catalyst for Lebron's popularity plummeting dramatically - almost as bad as Tiger Wood's fall from grace. Former Cleveland fans burned uniforms with his number on them and he is now booed in every stadium across the USA, except for Miami. To top it all off, this week he is about to enter his old Cleveland stadium to face 20,000 extremely hostile fans when Miami take on Cleveland for the first time this season. 

So what should Lebron do? Simple. He should apologise. Let's call it "The Apology." Here's a sample script for Lebron: "In reflecting on my decision to move to Miami this last summer, I now realise that the way I announced my decision was wrong. It was disrespectful to the Cleveland Cavaliers and I am sorry. It could have been done better and I could have minimised the hurt and pain I have caused. If I did it over again, I would do it differently. Please forgive me."

Now, I am sure there would be plenty of cynics who would not change their opinion of Lebron one bit even if there was "The Apology" ... BUT at least he would be taking full responsibility for his actions. He totally misread the implications of "The Decision" and the public sentiment that followed. Apologising is the right thing to do ... and it might just start to turn the tide of opinion that has been so strongly against him. Finally, it might play a small part in helping the Heat develop some better chemistry, after such a poor start to the season, and become the championship contender everyone thought they would be. 

Spain wins the World Cup

Spain Well, it's over! Spain has defeated the Netherlands to win the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament. I must admit, I only got up early once - to watch the Socceroos play Germany. That game wasn't worth my loss of sleep and the resultant German national anthem renditions in my house by my German-born wife became annoying after a while. Thankfully, that stopped a few days ago.

Anyway, congratulations to Spain - you deserved it and hopefully this win will lift the morale of that country ... and the economy. By the way, Paul the octopus is either a prophet in disguise or has a divining spirit!

Now back to the superior sports - Aussie Rules and basketball :)

Lebron James to the Miami Heat

Lbj The biggest news in professional basketball is the recent decision of Lebron James to sign with the Miami Heat, along with two of his best friends, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Lebron is without doubt one of the best basketball players currently playing the game, although he has yet to win an NBA championship. Until he does, he can't be compared with a Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers (winner of 5 championships) or to Michael Jordan, former NBA superstar and winner of 6 championships.

James' former team and city, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in mourning. He had carried them to great heights over the last seven seasons, but never brought home a championship. There are various reasons for this, but without doubt, he lacked the caliber of players around him to be a championship team. Not that has hasn't had good teammates - just that they didn't lift their game come finals time, as James usually did.

James has made a decision based on the best potential for him to win championships in the future. He has been criticized severely for his decision, especially by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, though some are coming to his defense, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson (see James' response to Gilbert here and David Stern's response to everyone). In reality, James fulfilled his obligations to the Cavs. His contract had expired. He considered lucrative offers from six teams, including Cleveland. In the end, he went with the place where he has the most potential to win (even with less money on the table). Nothing wrong with that. However, the way he communicated his decision, going on national TV and seemingly not informing the key stakeholders ahead of time, only added to the controversy.

The Miami Heat will now be a potential powerhouse in the NBA, with three all stars on their team. Of course, they need to build other key role players around them if they are to compete and they will now be the target of every other team, who will be out to beat them.

The 2010-2011 NBA season will be one of the best - can't wait!

P.S. I wonder what Gary Ablett Jr will do at the end of this AFL season? Will he stay in Geelong or head north to the Gold Coast for more money and sunnier skies?

Geelong Cats - AFL Premiers 2009

CatsWhat an incredible AFL Grand Final it was yesterday as the Geelong Cats fought back to defeat the St.Kilda Saints by 12 points in front of just under 99,251 screaming fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The game was an absolute arm-wrestle in freezing conditions with neither team leading by more than 2 goals throughout the entire game. St.Kilda dominated the inside 50s but didn't take advantage of a number of opportunities (much like the Cats in last year's losing Grand Final against the Hawks). The last quarter was a ripper, with the Cats just lifting enough to get over the line, possibly fueled by the agony of last year's unexpected defeat.

For the Saints fans, it was a disappointing day. They had a superb season, having lost only 2 games all year. They will feel like this was the one that got away. Unfortunately, there are no prizes for 2nd place. Someone had to lose and the Saints were unlucky.

For Cats fans, it was a day to remember as Geelong has now won 2 of the last 3 Grand Finals. They've been the dominant team over the last 3 years and two consecutive Grand Finals losses would have been too much to bear. Fortunately, they finished strong and are enjoying the celebrations now.

It was also great to see Gary Ablett Jnr get up and win the Brownlow last Monday night after a number of excellent seasons.

Go Cats!!

Michael Jordan - the Greatest Baskeball Player of all Time?

Jordan Basketball is my favourite sport. I started playing it when our family lived in America during my teenage years and I still play today (though I'm a lot slower now!). As a kid I used to love to watch Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls on TV. They won 6 NBA championships in the 1990s.

Click here and here to watch some highlights from Michael's career. Recently, Michael was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, along with other players such as the 7' 1" David Robinson, an athlete with a strong Christian faith (watch his speech here). You can watch Michael's speech here (it's 23 minutes long). Notice that anything we achieve in life is always with the help and support of our family, our mentors, our friends, our team, and even our failures ... and God.

Will anyone ever be a better basketball player than Michael? Some say current players such as Kobe Bryant or Lebron James have the potential. Only time will tell ...



Go Cats!

Cats Tonight the 2009 Australian Football League Season kicks off with a sold-out game at the MCG between traditional rivals the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues. It's also former team-mates Ben Cousins vs Chris Judd.

The excitement amongst avid footy fans is building ... while many others are wishing for a longer break :)

I'm more excited about tomorrow night's Grand Final re-match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats. The Cats should dominate ... Jeff Kennett's recent comments will only add fuel to the fire.

I am predicting that Geelong will go all the way this year. No choking on the big day ... like last year!


Grand Final Fever


Well, it's AFL Grand Final week here in Melbourne ... and what a final it will be with the Hawthorn Hawks taking on the defending premiers, the Geelong Cats next Saturday afternoon. There's sure to be a full house of over 100,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for what should be a historical final.

The Hawks are looking pretty strong with lots of confidence coming off their big win over St.Kilda on the weekend ... BUT the Cats will be ready for them.

My prediction - the Cats by 3 goals!

P.S. I was excited to be able to attend my first ever Grand Final yesterday (September 27th), along with 100,011 other people. What a game it was! Unfortunately, the Cats did not play their best football and ended up losing to the hungry Hawks by 26 points. The Cats had their opportunities but didn't take advantage of them and ended up paying for it. It's really disappointing, especially after they had their best season ever. Thankfully, I think they have another few good seasons ahead of them and I think they'll be back hungrier than ever in 2009. We'll have to wait and see ...

Go Cats!

Cats For those living in Australia, our Australian Rules Football season has only a few weeks left, with finals coming our way in September, culminating in the big Grand Final on September 27th. My favourite team is the Geelong Cats and they are playing really well at the moment, looking strong, and in a good place to repeat their long-awaited premiership from last season. 

I've been to a few games this season and I always try to catch any other games on TV if I can. I find it relaxing to sit back and watch such a great team play so well together. Let's hope they can finish strong!

2008 Beijing Olympics


I'm sure that many of you saw the spectular opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. I found it incredibly inspiring to see people from over 200 nations gathering together in one place for a common purpose. It made me think of the church that Jesus is building, made up of people from every nation on earth. Our church now has over 100 nationalities represented in it and I love the cultural diversity that brings. It's like a mosaic of many different and unique pieces, crafted together into a masterpiece, a work of art that God is creating.

Anyway, enjoy the games! I'll be cheering on the Aussies for lots of gold medals. We're a small nation when it comes to population but a big nation when it comes to dreams.

A final thought from the apostle Paul ...

"You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself." [1 Cor.9:24-27. the Message Bible]

Footy Tipping

I starting my tipping really well this AFL season - leading our competition for the first few weeks. Since then I've slipped back into 2nd or 3rd place for most of the season. Right now I have 98 wins with three rounds to go. One of our staff pastors, Peter Coburn, is leading the pack with 102 wins. Peter says he knows nothing about football (!?) but he's been doing some pretty good tipping of late. I'll have to do really well to catch him now ... and I'll have to keep an eye out for others crowding the front of the pack, including Paul Molyneux, who is tied with me now.

[EDIT: I ended up finishing in second place with 117 tips, four behind the winner, Peter Coburn, who had 121. Congratulations Peter!]

Geelong Cats

I've been a Geelong Cats fan for many years now and this is the best season we've had for a long while. The Cats are clearly going to finish on top of the ladder and are a good chance for the Grand Final if they can keep playing like they have over their 14 game winning streak.

When I was young, I barracked for teams like Richmond (back in the Royce Hart days!) and Essendon. Back in the late 80s, when Nicole and I were leading our church youth group, we played a game against the Barrabool Baptist youth group and Gary Ablett Snr, who was attending that church at the time, came and had a kick. It was cool to meet him. I started following Geelong after that day.

I've always had a soft spot for Gary, believing that he has a good heart, even though he's had some rough patches in his life due to some of the consequences of his choices. I hear he's doing better now and it's great to see his sons playing well for Geelong at the moment.

[Update: For a recent article on Gary, click here - November 27th, 2007]

Go Cats!!!