Unlikely Heroes

If you didn’t know, I am a Lakers fan. I know that to many this makes me a fan of one of the “Evil Empires” in sports, however, I grew up in Fresno, California and when I was introduced to basketball I didn’t even know about the Kings, Clippers, or Warriors. All of that aside, I am happy about the victory and another championship.

However, I was impressed at how they won. It was not through the super-human performance of their superstar Kobe Bryant, but rather through the collective joining of forces and a little bit of luck. Particularly noteworthy, was the performance of Ron Artest.

This paragraph is an admitted side note, so feel free to skip it if you don’t want to read about my “encounter” with Ron Artest. Shortly before the birth of our children, a close friend, along with our wives, went to Maui. During that trip we decided to go to a luau, and sitting at the table next to ours was Ron Artest and his family, somewhat memorized  by this man who has been portrayed by the media as an absolute lunatic. However, he was just a normal guy who actually seemed uncomfortable being up on stage when the emcee called him up to dance. In other words, although my contact with him was hardly anything, I would say that he is 90% just a normal guy, with a 10% goofy guy who wants to get a rise out of you when the lights are on him. Thus from that 10%, we probably got the most entertaining post game interview and press conference in recent memory.

Back to my original thought. Ron Artest played his best game as a Laker last night, at times when the superstar Kobe Bryant struggled shooting and scoring, the Lakers were led by Ron Ron (a nickname of Artest), not a phenomenal percentage, but every time they seemed to need a basket there he was shooting a three-point basket, or dribbling into score, or rebounding the ball and scoring. Although he did not end the night as the scoring leader for the Lakers, he was instrumental in their offense. However, the Lakers wanted to get better on defense, and Ron Ron has been one of the best defensive players in the NBA in recent years. So they allowed one of their key players from last year’s championship team to leave as a free agent, and they signed Ron Ron. Through the entire season there were times when the Laker fans were happy with the move, and there were times when Laker fans really wondered why would they would essentially trade one player with promise for an inconsistent player like Artest. Last night, that went away, forever Ron Ron will be given the title, Champion. Most Laker fans also forgive this man who was the most unlikely of people to bring them back with both his defensive game AND his  offensive game.

Life is a lot like this, it is not always the superstar that makes the last shot, nor can we always rely upon the best and brightest to win the games that we play in life. Sometimes, we are the the tarnished players in this game of life, and sometimes we are given the opportunity to rise to the occasion. It doesn’t matter how much tarnish we have, it doesn’t matter how much we have done something that makes us “unreliable”, all that matters is how we react in the next moment. Each opportunity is a chance to rewrite our legacy, each time is a chance to become a champion, a chance to live lives glorifying God.

Ron Artest did not dwell on his failures, instead he knew that he had the ability to help his team win a championship. Through just going out and doing the same thing he had done time and time again, he stepped up to become an unlikely hero. I never thought I would say this, but learn a lesson from Ron Artest, don’t allow yourself to be defined by your failures and mistakes, but move forward and play, excel, and earn the title CHAMPION.

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