Archive for July 2010

LeBron Wants To Be King, But King Of What?   1 comment

Nearly two months ago, Bill Simmons of ESPN wrote an article entitled “Winning, Loyalty, or Immortality.” In it, one of Simmons’ followers insightfully explained the difference between Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James:

I think you define a player by what is most important to them in one word.

MJ–Winning. Hands down, all he wanted to do was win. And that’s over-used for a lot of athletes, but not him.

Kobe–Greatness. Yes, he’s going to win some, but only because he wants to be considered great and that will be a by-product at times. But you’d also see him shoot his team out of a game; jack 3s when he should press the issue and get to the paint. He didn’t mind losing a few games if people came away saying, “Kobe is great; look what happens when he doesn’t shoot.”

LeBron–Amaze. I think he just really wants to amaze people. Which is why he spends 10 minutes before the game throwing underhand, left-hand half-court shots. Why he celebrates amazing dunks and blocks, but isn’t working just as hard to win.

For alliteration sake, let me choose three different words to identify Jordan, Bryant, and James: Jordan–Victory; Bryant–Glory; James–Celebrity.

Let me be upfront in stating that I am not a fan of LeBron James. I think he’s an amazing athlete, and I go ooh and ahh whenever I see him throw down a vicious dunk on one of his many victims. However, I believe that James is what is wrong with the basketball culture today. It is filled with a self-indulgent sense of entitlement–a sense of “I will not only let my game show that I am great, but I want the world to know my great accomplishments through my proclamations of my greatness.” What bugs me about James is his arrogance in proclaiming himself “King James” and “The Chosen One.” (I don’t mind, however, if arrogance is shown on the court.) An example of the by-product of James is Andray Blatche, of the Washington Wizards, who showed that he was self-entitled and spoiled on two separate occasions this past season: first, he chewed out a backup player for grabbing a rebound instead of letting him get it to complete his first triple-double; second, he decided not to play after the first five minutes (of a game I attended) because he just didn’t feel like playing that night. Thanks, LeBron. (Now, it’s not all James’ fault, of course. I understand that I am being unduly harsh and critical, but I think James is the face of this group of athletes.)

So, LeBron James likes to be known as King… but what is he king of? People can generally have multiple loves and interests, but you reveal your greatest love when you’re forced to make a choice between two competing loves. Michael Jordan’s greatest love was winning, above all else. But that begs the question… why did he make tens of millions of dollars if he wanted to win? Why didn’t he play for the minimum so that he could get other All-Stars? Because he didn’t have to. You can love multiple things and not be forced to choose between them. With Kobe Bryant, I think that if professional basketball didn’t pay money, he would still play basketball. He would probably be working on his MBA about now, but he’d spend all his free time playing basketball because he loves the game and because he loves to show others that he’s better.

However, with the plethora of teams available to James, his decision will be a choice that reveals his greatest love. There are only three realistic choices available to him at this point: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers. Each team will reveal something about the character of James.

Miami Heat–Victory
If James chooses to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh (and supposedly Ray Allen, according to rumors) on the Heat, his choice will be clear. He wants to win above all else. Because, in Miami, his legacy will be hurt. Miami is not King James’ city, but DWade’s city. James would not be playing second fiddle, but he and Bosh will not be #1, but rather #1A and #1B. However, Miami will give James the greatest chance to win. It will be like the Celtics’ Big Three, but in their prime. Plus, players will join them every year below their market value for a chance to play with them in the games and to party with them in South Beach post-games. Miami is the clearest choice if he wants to win, above all else. (I personally think the Los Angeles Clippers are the top choice, in terms of layers available, but who would want to work under Donald Sterling?)

Cleveland–Loyalty
Choosing Cleveland would net James the most money, but I don’t think that’s why he would choose the Cavaliers. Although James would get a higher salary in his home-town, winning championships with Miami would improve his marketability, as would being in the media hub of the world, New York. No, if James chooses Cleveland… it’s because of loyalty. It’s because he grew up in nearby Akron. It’s because the people would be heartbroken, like finding out–through Twitter–that your first love left you for another. It’s because the city is estimated to lose about $200 million a year in revenue if he departs. It’s because the city would absolutely be devastated if he leaves. If James stays, it shows that he doesn’t value winning above all else, but I would have major respect for a man who values loyalty above all else. I think that Cleveland could get a few people in signings and trades that would keep them competitive… but James is key. They wouldn’t win, but Cleveland would still be a somebody with James.

New York–Celebrity
The New York Knicks would be a pretty good team if James chose to go there. They just signed Amar’e Stoudemire, and I am a big fan of Danilo Galinari. It’s just that the Knicks would still not be as good of a team with James as the Heat would be with James. If James went here, it’s so that his “legacy” and his “brand” would not be hurt. It’s true… Miami would hurt his brand, but it would all but seal at least 2 or 3 championships over the course of the contract. The Knicks would keep James competitive in the playoffs, but they are far from being able to guarantee him any championships. Therefore, his choice of New York would clearly reveal that his greatest priority is to become, not the next MJ, but the next Jay-Z. And I personally think that James will choose the Knicks in his announcement tomorrow. James’ career goals start with becoming the first basketball player to make a billion dollars. He wants to be like Jay-Z, who is more than just a rapper–he’s a media mogul… an icon. James wants to be that. He wants to be bigger than basketball. That’s why I believe he chooses the Knicks over the Cavaliers or the Heat.

But we shall find out tomorrow what James’ greatest love is when he makes the announcement. Victory, loyalty, celebrity. What is your greatest love, LeBron? You state that you are king, but what do you want to be king of? Tomorrow will speak volumes about the type of man James is. It will reveal the deepest love in his heart.

Posted July 7, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

“The Church Has Ample Reason for Hope”   1 comment

(I really didn’t want to post anything just yet. I’m writing a paper for a law school class on Title IX and the applicability of the “actual notice” requirement in the context of intercollegiate athletics, and I’m still not done yet. So I wanted to abstain from blogging… but… for those of you who know me… you will know that I don’t work that way, for better or for worse. I get the itch to write, and I can only stop that itch for so long. So… here’s a brief scratching of my itch. BTW… if you’re interested in Title IX or gender equality in intercollegiate athletics and want to read my paper, let me know. It’ll put most to sleep, but to each his own.)

Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently finished the final broadcast of the Albert Mohler Radio Program. It was a great program that provided a biblical Christian viewpoint on many of the world’s issues. Issues ran the gambit–from moral issues such as abortion, divorce, and homosexuality to religious issues such as atheism, Islam, and Roman Catholicism; Mohler even discussed seemingly random and trivial–but nonetheless culturally relevant–issues such as art and sports. Mohler’s final broadcast looked back over the years and identified ten lessons he had learned through his radio ministry.

I wanted to highlight his sixth point, to which I have entitled this post, and to which Mohler elaborates: “The most important ground of the Church’s hope is Christ–who assures that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church.”

The end of Mohler’s radio program has nothing to do with his age (it was merely a matter of changing with the changing times), but I can’t help but think of the end of the sparks who began a revival of Evangelicalism in the 20th century that is still gaining momentum in the young adults of this day. Those between the ages of 20 and 40 have spiritually matured on the lessons of some great church fathers. But I look at some of those who sparked this movement, and my heart breaks at the thought of losing, within the next decade or two, men such as J.I. Packer (soon to be age 84), Jerry Bridges (soon to be age 81), age R.C. Sproul (age 71),  John MacArthur (age 71), and John Piper (age 64). Now, I don’t want to make it seem as if these men are all dying, or on the death beds, today. Bridges preached just a few months ago at my church, and he’s going pretty strong for a guy who was telling us stories of his childhood during the Great Depression. And MacArthur recently played a game of 3 on 3 that went on for over an hour against three students at Southern Baptist Theological Semminary; his final stats (yes, someone kept stats): 33 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds. But, let’s face the facts… there is a good chance that the Christian community will lose these treasures–these fathers of the faith–before I turn 40 (I’m currently 25).

I first thought of this reality when I was at the 2010 Together 4 the Gospel Conference, and I was disappointed that Sproul was not making a live appearance due to his deteriorating health. He was preaching over video-feed and, although his voice was strong and he was passionate, I could see his age on his face. And it broke my heart to think that Sproul would be leaving this world soon. (Dr. Sproul’s book, Defending Your Faith, was one of the first books I read after I became a Christian.)

And, while we still have men such as Mohler (soon to be age 51), C.J. Mahaney (soon to be age 57), Mark Dever (age 50), and Ligon Duncan (age 50) ready to take the mantle as the men who will shape and mold the church, I couldn’t help but think of the next generation. Men like the aforementioned four will lead me into my later ages, but… Who will be the ones that teach my children? Who will be the ones whose books will line the shelves of my children? Who will speak truth into their lives and lead them into battle against the world?

This long introduction brings me to my main point. We have some amazing pastors ready to lead the next generation of Christians into a humble orthodoxy. Here’s a short list of preachers under the age of 40 who will shape the minds and souls of the coming generation… and I must confess that, though these men are not finished products, I am thankful to God for raising such men and I am confident that the Gospel will continue to be magnified in the next wave of this revival. The following list of men is not an exhaustive list… just a few men who have already spoken truth into my life.

Kevin DeYoung (age 37)

DeYoung, the pastor of University Reformed Church near Michigan State University, is a man with a great desire to learn more about God and to proclaim those truths to other believers. He has two books which have impacted my life: Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church. Actually, I haven’t read the books, but I’ve heard his sermons on the book, and those are good. I firmly believe that DeYoung will be one of the men of the faith that we will look to in the coming decades.

Joshua Harris (soon to be age 36)

Josh Harris is my senior pastor, at Covenant Life Church; and I have been truly blessed to sit under his ministry. This past week, after spending a few weeks away to be with his mother who has stage four cancer (who is now with Jesus), Harris spoke on 1 Peter. And while I was blessed by those who preached in his absence, I found myself talking with friends about how refreshing it was to have Josh back. His humility and his love for God are evident in the lives of those who serve under him and those who have been ministered-to by him. And, after service, Josh exemplified a servant’s heart by doing security duty for the church… or, at least, I think he was doing security. Why else would he be wearing a security uniform to church? 🙂

Thabiti Anyabwile (age 39)

Anyabwile is the only pastor I listen to who doesn’t live in America. Anyabwile is a great teacher; and he loves rap music and plays basketball. I’m so thankful for Anyabwile’s understand of, and love for, the local church. Check out the new “The Church: Called & Collected” CD, which is a compilation rap CD. Anyabwile and Dever were involved in the production of it, and it’s solid teaching and good music.

Mark Driscoll (soon to be age 40)

Some of you don’t like Driscoll. Some of you think he’s arrogant and crass… and he is, sometimes. But I believe that Driscoll has an amazing appetite for the Word of God and for Christian theology. And I think he has placed himself under the influence of men, such as Piper and Mahaney, who are continuing to speak truth into his life… and he is growing in maturity in those areas that worry some. Yes, he’s still a sinner… unfortunately, he’ll be a sinner until the day he dies. But I’m thankful for the fact that he is a light in the God-less city of Seattle. (Who knows, if they turn to the Lord, maybe He will bless them with another basketball franchise. R.I.P. Sonics.)

Matt Chandler (age 36)

I first learned about Chandler when I heard of a pastor who proclaimed his hope in the gospel just hours before he went into surgery for a brain tumor that could have killed him and left his wife a widow and his children, bastards. (Words like this can be used and not be vulgar… so please don’t rebuke me about this.) Chandler is not emergent, for those of you who think he might be. He preaches the Word, and he is an effective communicator of truth. Thankfully, he seems to have made a strong recovery from his brain surgery and his chemotherapy. I pray and hope that God grants Chandler many more decades of fruitful ministry, so that he can continue to preach the gospel to the religious, but unsaved, people in Texas.

Justin McKitterick (definitely under 40… anyone know how old Justin is?)

Finally, on my list of preachers under the age of 40 is McKitterick, shepherd of the college ministry of Grace Community Church at the University of California, Los Angeles. Some of you might be thinking… who is Justin McKitterick? I can’t find any of his books on Amazon or any of his podcasts online? It’s because he hasn’t written a book, and I think you need a special login to get his sermons off of the UCLA Grace on Campus website. But McKitterick is having a tremendous impact in the future of the Christian church… he preaches every week to a group of between 300-400 students at UCLA. Under his leadership over the past 4 years, between 100-150 students have graduated from college and was deployed into the world with minds full of truth and hearts eager to proclaim Christ. McKitterick is important precisely because he doesn’t write books and doesn’t preach at conferences and doesn’t preach at a mega-church. McKitterick represents the everyday pastor. He wasn’t just a distant figure who preached to me during my years at UCLA. Rather, he was a loving and caring shepherd who spent his afternoons at the food court so that he could talk to students on a whole variety of issues (although most of them probably had to do with dating). He was the man who took a few younger men under his wings to invest in them by meeting with them weekly to discuss all sorts of spiritual issues; consequently, his life has been a model to these men of true discipleship. As much as I am indebted to the other men, it is McKitterick who has spoken truth into my life most often and most deeply. Although I will read the books of those other men, it is McKitterick who has spent time playing catch with me (baseball rocks!), discussing books with me, shepherding me through struggles and sins, and laughing at me (at me, not with me… hehe). (Gosh, I hope Justin doesn’t read my blog. If he did… he just might end up killing me.)

And it is because men like Justin McKitterick are being raised up by the fathers of our faith such as John MacArthur that I can wholeheartedly agree with Mohler in stating that “the church has ample reason for hope.”

Posted July 6, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized