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USA Basketball and International Competition

It hardly seems possible that the summer is almost over and the leaves are turning and football has returned to the forefront of sports. But before we spend too much time figuring out if Ohio State can beat Texas this weekend, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about our basketball team that won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Japan.

This team has great potential and unlike many of the past teams, their attitude was better in that they did not embarrass us with their actions as well as losing on the floor. This team will get better if they work at understanding the differences between the game we call basketball and the way it is played and officiated in the NBA, and the international game which is clearly more of a team game and less of a one on one or two on two type of game. It is also a game where the officials will not grant as much super star leniency on traveling violations and getting fouls just because of who you are.

The unlimited application of zone defenses and the team play which the better international teams have developed, make it more important for the US team to be able to duplicate those same tendencies. If we brought Greece, Spain, or Argentina into the NBA and asked them to compete there, they would be mediocre to below average teams with Germany probably being more competitive as an NBA team. Even though it’s all “basketball” the games and team structures are significantly different and until the American players and fans recognize the difference and work on those deficiencies we will still be just one of the better teams instead of returning to the position we all wish to be the best team.

What is the lesson to be learned? If we want to have credibility in any are of influence whether it is athletics or to be able to share the gospel with others, you first must respect them and understand who they are before you try to sell them on your ideas. One of the great thrills I have had in serving the Lord over the past 6 years has been to serve in several different roles in overseas mission projects.

Whether in the poorest section of El Salvador or the most obscure school in Kenya, the people we met were always deserving of our respect and loving them as human beings first and foremost was essential in sharing the gospel. You may find that offering yourself in the most humble ways will beat out the hubris of Wall Street just as the quiet hard working USA basketball team will make a better impression and have the best chance for winning gold in 2008.

What do you think about the impression this team has made?


Sent September 4, 2006

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