Basketball & Politics

Basketball & Politics

LeBron James, in my opinion, is the greatest basketball player ever. 

Before he came along, I think maybe it was Michael Jordan, or Oscar Robertson, or maybe Magic Johnson.

Magic, who is still my all time favorite, was a 6’9″ point guard. Famous for playing all 5 positions, Magic is my favorite because of his leadership ability and his amazing passing ability. Still, if I’m honest I would put him behind the other three on the All-Time list.

Oscar played in a different era, where players weren’t nearly as big or fast, so I’m not so sure he would be as dominate in today’s game, so for that reason alone, I think it comes down to Jordan or LeBron.

Both men are elite athletes and prolific scorers, but when it comes to passing and rebounding, LeBron is superior. 

When Lebron decided to return to Cleveland from Miami in 2014, my son said “Dad, we have the greatest player in history from the state of Ohio, how come we don’t follow the Cavaliers?”

He was right, so we became dedicated fans.

We followed them closely and rooted for our home state team. 

Until 2016. 

While Scott, Shelbi, Theresa and I were in Cleveland to see our beloved Cowboys play the Browns, LeBron was across town holding a political rally for Hillary Clinton.

From that day forward, my enthusiasm for the Cavaliers, but especially LeBron began to fade.

Not because LeBron has a political viewpoint, but because he became a political activist. LeBron became my political enemy.

You see, I follow LeBron because he plays basketball and I like the way he plays. He works harder than almost anyone else in the league. He cares about winning and dedicates himself to his craft. He’s unselfish with the basketball and has amazing leadership skills. Yet, here he was on stage supporting one of the most evil people in human history. 

Someone I would consider an enemy of America. 

Someone I consider my enemy.

Maybe it’s wrong, but I just couldn’t stay a fan because of politics. 

Politics is something I watch very carefully. Not because I like to argue, but because I’m a husband and a father.

When I became a father, I became keenly aware of the world around me. 

Suddenly I became interested in how the world worked and how policy would affect my children. My mindset was to raise my kids with principles and ethics, but my main passion was to protect them. 

Protection, the highest calling of a dad. 

As a young father, I looked at both the Democrat and Republican party. (Looking back, I realize this is an evil paradigm. A two party system is designed to pit one group of people against another, but I digress. I’ll save that for another day.)

As I looked carefully at each party I came across a subject that bothered me to my core. Abortion.

“Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that people believe it’s okay to kill a baby as long as it’s still inside the mother? What? Why would anyone do this?”

It’s the main reason I have never been able to vote for a Democrat. I just can’t get passed it. Why wouldn’t someone just put the child up for adoption?

My children are precious to me. I just can’t imagine killing them. It’s pure insanity.

Which brings me back to Hillary and LeBron.

Hillary’s hero is Margaret Sanger. Do you know who that is?

Here’s one of her quotes: “ The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

She was also a proponent of eugenics. Population control, especially for blacks, whom she considered inferior.

You know what else Margaret Sanger is known for?

She’s the founder of Planned Parenthood. The largest abortion provider in the U.S. 

So no, I can’t get past it. I can’t support Hillary, and now I can’t support LeBron.

LeBron is a public figure who shares his politics, which is of course his right. However, he risks alienating fans like me. 

As I think about my writing and taking up controversial topics, I too, might alienate some people. 

After all, I’m in business. I want to attract new business associates. Clients. I want to attract readers to my blog. To my podcast. I want folks to buy my book and future books. 

What’s a person to do? Do I just not write about sensitive subjects? 

My model is Jesus. 

How did he handle sensitive subjects? 

Truth delivered with compassion didn’t exactly appeal to the Pharisees, yet The Message was still shared. 

Ultimately, I decided to tell my stories, to be as respectful as possible, and to share the goodness of God along the way–regardless.

Go Celtics.

Yin Yang

Yin Yang

One of my talents is the ability to spot talent. 
It’s the coach in me.
Once I had a real estate client who had three boys. Ages 13, 12, and 10.
All three were football players and on the very first day we met, I challenged the dad and said, “I’ll bet you I can guess their ages and what position they play.”
Dad lined up all three boys and I went down the line guessing the age and position.
“He’s 13 and a receiver. He’s 12 and a offensive lineman. He’s 10 and a defensive lineman.”
I was right on all three counts. Mom and dad were amazed.
Although guessing the age was impressive, they marveled that I correctly guessed each position.
The secret? In sports, each position has an ideal body type.
Body type determines your position.
I have three business friends, all named Ryan. The Three Ryans! Lol.
One is an ex-football player.
Another is an ex-basketball player.
Yet another is an ex-baseball player.
Before I really got to know each of them, I already knew how they would approach business.
Like I did with the three boys, I predicted their three individual approaches by the sports they mastered. 
You see football, basketball, and baseball players have different mindsets.
Football success requires extremes. Intensity. Force. Violence.
Basketball success requires intensity but more fluidity. Grace. Touch.
Baseball even more fluidity. More Grace. More touch. Loose. Free and easy. 
Sure enough these three business friends approach their lives exactly how I’d anticipated. In business, and in life, which approach is best?
Violent intense force?
Grace and fluidity?
Bruce Lee, maybe the best known martial artist in history, advocates for the Yin and the Yang.
In the book, The Warrior Within–The Philosophies of Bruce Lee, Yin is described as weakness and soft. Yang is strength and speed.
Yin is dark. Yang is light.
Moon and Sun.
Negative and positive.
Bruce Lee suggests that every situation in life is different and requires a unique approach.
Some situations we’re required to be soft and understanding. Other times require us to be assertive. 
As in sport, life also requires us to be prepared to play offense and defense.
Bruce Lee and the Three Ryans all live by and teach the athletic position.
The athletic position is the universal position of balance. Head up. Knees bent. Butt down. Hands up.
Ready to defend. Ready to attack. On balance. Ready to go left or right, forward or backward. 
Once we metaphorically get into the athletic position, our intuition, our instinct, and our inner voice dictate the course of action.
The way of the warrior.

The Voice

My weekly coffee meeting with my dad has an interesting pattern. This week was no different.

“How was your week?”

Sometimes he asks. Sometimes it’s me.

My new truck was a big part of this week’s conversation, a topic for which we both have great enthusiasm.

Ultimately our conversations always turn to the most important subject–people.

Sometimes we discuss people in the news. Sometimes we discuss friends, coworkers, musicians. Sometimes we discuss our family.

Families have problems. Ours is no different.

When a family member faces difficulty, it’s important to pray for them. As important, we must also support them.

In deed and in word.

Our deeds can manifest in gifts, favors, money, all of which are useful.

Of all the gifts we can give, our words might be the most valuable.

“Dad, you know that country song that says ‘overuse I love you’?”

“Yes, I think so.” he answers.

“Yeah, well I think that song’s spot on. When it comes to my wife and kids, I intentionally overuse ‘I love you’.”

Because I know the power of words.

“In fact”, I continued, “I remember telling my daughter everyday when she was a young girl that she was beautiful.”

Now in her late 20’s my nickname for her remains “pretty girl.”

Words of affirmation.

Words, assembled in the right way, at the right time, for the right person, can change the trajectory of their life.

We all have within us the capacity for words. Unique to us. Like a fingerprint. An inner message.

Sometimes our inner message manifests itself as a song. Or art. Or an act of kindness.

Like a GPS, this message guides us towards our highest calling.

I like to think of this internal guiding sage as The Voice.

Eastern cultures call it Chi, or Tao.

Believers call it the Holy Spirit.

Our duty for friends and family is to find The Voice, to feed it, and to share.

Finding it requires inner quiet. By seeking God. By faith.

Feeding it requires hearing his Word.

Sharing The Voice requires listening to it, good intent, and action.

Sharing requires overusing ‘I love you’.

Fighting is Everything

Fighting is Everything

Thanksgiving was spent with my adult children.

A couple of times I caught myself apologizing to them.

Caught, as in, I’m not a big believer in looking back with regret. Caught, as in, it’s not healthy to live with guilt. Caught, as in, life should be lived in the present.

Nonetheless, I digressed.

“If I had it to do over again, I would have made you both take jiu jitsu.” I declared.


Realizing my kids are out on their own and will soon be having families, I think it was my way of saying, ‘Hey, make sure your kids know how to defend themselves.’

As parents, protecting our kids is our highest calling.

Teaching them to protect themselves is an important first step.

In the martial arts world you’re taught first how to flee.
Run. Don’t fight.

Actually, running is almost never an option.

Life is a fight in every conceivable way. You cannot run from this fight, you might as well embrace it.

You fight to get the girl. You fight to get your education. You fight to get the job. You fight to get promoted. You fight for your rights. You fight for your country. You fight for your beliefs.

There’s a podcast I came across last year called Bards of War. Their tagline is “Fighting is Everything.”

Initially, I disagreed.

After some thought and study, I think it’s absolutely accurate–fighting is everything.

The Bible shines some light: Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities…”

This verse, and many others make it clear, life is a fight.
It’s those who strive to avoid the fight who have the most difficulty in life.

They spend their days avoiding the conflicts.

Avoiding difficult decisions. Avoiding people. Avoiding the gym.

The mindset of a warrior is the only way forward.

Ephesians, chapter 6 gives us some guidance. We’re told to put on the full armor of God.

Belt of truth. Breastplate of righteousness. Helmet of salvation. Sword of the Spirit.

Proper war tools.

Here’s the beauty of God’s way–our only job is to put on the armor, God does the rest.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is back.

On December 6 she came back for season 3 and Theresa and I couldn’t be more excited.

To gear up for the occasion we decided to go back and review the final two episodes of last season before we started the next installment.

As we slipped once again into the story, I was pleasantly reminded of how special this show truly is.

For those of you who missed my article last year let me update you.

Mrs. Maisel is a young mother living in Upper West Side of Manhattan in the mid 1950’s.

Her husband, a businessman, moonlights as a comedian in a nightclub called The Gaslight Cafe. His act included common jokes and setups used by more well known comics. Not his own material, but he delivered the punchlines on cue.

Although Joel was a good comic, he wasn’t great. Each performance was dutifully supported by his wife, his biggest fan.

One night after yet another mediocre performance, and maybe a little frustrated in life, he begins an affair with a secretary from work.

Mrs. Maisel shows up at the Gaslight looking for Mr. Maisel and after a few too many drinks she does an impromptu riff onstage about her crumbling personal life.

The crowd loves her. Turns out Mrs. Maisel has talent. Major talent.

I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to follow as Mrs. Maisel chases her dream of being a comedian despite the struggles of being a single mom.

As we sat riveted by this story I wondered what was it about this show? Why do I love it so?

Maybe it’s the setting.

New York in the 1950’s where America had rebuilt from the war and prosperity was the norm, baseball was king, and mid century modern architecture had taken hold.

Maybe it’s the fashion. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s just funny.

Ultimately, I think it’s great for two reasons: 1) Great characters 2) Great story.

The stories I love are the stories that share the art and beauty of life juxtaposed with it’s struggles.

Mrs. Maisel does this masterfully.

While going through the divorce, Mrs. Maisel moves back in with mom and dad.

The fighting begins.

Father and daughter argue. Mother and daughter argue. Father and mother argue.

The arguments are brutal by modern standards. Finger pointing. Blame. Questioning motives.

The type of fights that cause families to stop talking. To disengage. To break up.

It was during one of these serious fights that I had a revelation.

Only a person who knows a relationship is rock solid can share their truth, no matter how uncomfortable.

There’s an honesty about someone who will openly call you out.

Is fighting good? Maybe not. But maybe it’s good to be called out once in a while from someone who truly loves you.