Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Pride of Superman

You have to have a certain amount of ego to be an elite athlete. You need to have confidence in yourself; that when you are holding the ball, you are better than the person standing across from you. Many celebrity athletes show this ego not only on the court or field, but also in their lives as they build for themselves personal empires made up of posses, fast cars, big houses and expensive clothes purchased with the staggering amounts of money these athletes make.

But sometimes the ego can grow a little too large, believing that not only are you better than the player across from you, but also your teammates next to you or even the coach trying to lead you.
No, I'm not talking about Kobe Bryant. I'm talking about Dwight Howard. (I promised he'd get his post, so here it is.) I admit I'm not much of a fan professional basketball, preferring college hoops. But when it comes to the playoffs, there are few things more exciting than the NBA. It's too bad the Orlando Magic didn't last long this postseason.

It's not that I'm necessarily a Magic fan, but I've been interested in Dwight Howard's career ever since I read about his Christian faith back when he was still a teenage phenom. So it made me sad when he got one of the Magic cheerleaders pregnant a couple of years ago. And it tore my heart when he started fighting with his coach, Stan Van Gundy earlier this year.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

I would argue that Van Gundy's job coaching the Magic the last couple of seasons has been anything but a joy and more than a burden. So maybe it's a relief that the Magic fired him on Monday. Yet despite trying to appease their superman superstar, Dwight Howard still won't commit to returning to Orlando next season.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

Back in 2004, Howard hoped his play on the court would "raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world." He prayed about being the number one pick in the NBA draft. And planned on using the hardwood as his mission field. But the past two seasons have been anything but an effective Christian witness as the bickering through the media reached a crecendo earlier this year once word got out that Howard wanted Van Gundy fired, an accusation Howard would vehemently deny.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)

I hope Howard isn't trying to get out of Orlando in search of greener pastures, or just more green. As a teenager, before receiving his first multi-million dollar contract, Howard declared, "I think I can make as much money or even more than LeBron. But it will be up to God for that to happen... I'm not trying to give glory for myself. I'm trying to give glory for Him." I haven't followed this story that closely, only knowing what the sports gossip blogosphere has been reporting, but everything I gather is that Howard simply wants a better environment to win. So is winning everything? Is that really what God wants from Howard? Or is it ultimately what Howard just wants for himself?

"whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31)

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