Game 7 - When Greatness Wasn't Enough

I know it sounds silly. I know it sounds nuts. But I was changed after game 7 of the NBA Finals. For the last 13 years of my young life, I have followed the maturation of a fellow by the name of Kobe Bryant. I have tracked his legacy. I have been his biggest fan. I have defended him when everyone ruled him out. I have loved his work ethic and loved when people hated him. I have said he's the greatest basketball player of all time. I was heart broken when he cheated on his wife, and saw him cry at that press conference with that white thermal shirt in the middle of summer. I know his game. I have seen him change from a selfish basketball player, to the shining example of competitive sports. I am proud to call him my favorite athlete. I am proud to witness his legacy.

Game 7 versus the Boston Celtics would be his game. It would be the time where he could single-handedly shut up all critics in one Kobe-esque performance. The stage would be set for him to do what he does best. He would lead his team to the championship, and the sports world would be marveled by his greatness....Now, it's been a week, and I still can't believe what actually happened - Kobe Bryant played the worst game of his entire career through the first 3 quarters. It seemed like God Himself sent an angel down to guard him - to annoy him - to deflect every shot that normally goes in. In the midst of the most important game in his career thus far, Kobe Bryant - the great one - could not deliver, irrespective of his greatness.

When Greatness is Not Enough

Throughout the entire game, God kept telling me - I am teaching you something very important - do not miss it - and through my anxiety of watching the Lakers nearly crumble, I kept saying: "God, I promise I won't miss it." I didn't miss it, and I couldn't - it was glaringly obvious. You see, I cared more about the legacy of 1 man, than I did the legacy of the entire team. I placed too much emphasis on his role in achieving success, and completely disregarded the team - completely mistrusted the ability of everyone surrounding him.

The need for others - This does not sit well with me. I cringe at the thought of believing that others can pull you up, when you cannot do it yourself. I have been trained with the notion that it is you and God. It is you in prison, with the only hope coming from a Divine Presence. While I whole-heartedly believe in this singular and tunnel vision mentality, I am being introduced to a more nuanced version of it - one that involves a potential team - one that involves others in the equation - it is hard for me to even type it out - and to be honest, I'm quite terrified to see it actually happen.

We know that our purpose and destiny is not about us - at least most of us do. But I would've hoped that I didn't have to rely on others in the process. Others are great - but I'de rather opt to do it myself. Others don't shoot for the stars. Others aren't excellent. Others, others, others! I can go insane thinking about "others" - it leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth. The truth of the matter is that endangered species need others. Endangered species cannot operate solely alone. They cannot win without their teammates. They cannot be optimal without their league of justice. When Kobe Bryant couldn't do it alone, his team came to the rescue. His team reminded him that the greatness of a single man is filth, if it doesn't allow the rest of his team to carry him when his greatness cannot execute a victory. There is something in our DNA that needs each other. I am careful when I say "need" because 99% of people need others in the worst way possible. This is not the "need" I am referring to. I am speaking of a need where we thrive together. A need where all resources, talents, personalities, visions, dreams, and heart come together to accomplish something that is far more satisfying than an individual accolade. I want this so badly. I want to be a part of this kind of team. I want to be around people that push me to limits. I want to be with people who are better than me - in every sense of the word. Even when they are not "better," I want them to be a good fit - I'll take what I can get. I'll take what is meant for me.

Being great does not ensure results. Being great is not the end-all. In fact, it can be the end of alot of us if we are not careful. There is an island that we can all potentially live on - alone, fruitless, and miserable - if we don't allow the grace of God to give us people in a healthy and correct way. God wants to give you a team. He wants everything you do to be bigger than yourself. May God help you if what you do ends with yourself. You might as well quit before starting. Do not reject your team. Do not walk alone in areas that you are not supposed to. You can win the entire year that way, but you may lose it all in game 7. Peace, and much love to you - John Baptist!


  1. very timely word, esp for all of us wanting to enter greater levels of maturation.


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