Maybe Christian Laettner
It happens every year. Someone shows a video of Christian Laettner’s shot that defeated Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Final. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the video of Christian stomping a Kentucky player underneath the basket is never shown – but that’s just my unbiased observation.
I must admit, even though I wish that game between Duke and Kentucky had turned out differently, it was epic. But I am perplexed. There have been other close games between great teams since 1992. The Duke – Kentucky game wasn’t even a championship game. So why is it special?
Certainly, rivalry and tradition comes to play. The fact that “the shot” occurred with 2.1 second on the clock is also impressive.
Here’s what I think. As amazing as the Duke – Kentucky finish was, I think the mystique surrounding it has more to do with the personal investment of fans and players than the game. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying fans and players no longer care about winning. The shuffling of coaches after losing seasons is a testimony to the fact that winning is still the main thing.
Yet, there are other things. And it is these other things that don’t exist in a “one and done” era where players see one year of college play as a necessary hoop on their way to the NBA. I am not promoting one path over the other. I am simply stating what we all know: that players who finish their degrees and play for four years have a different level of commitment to their teams. This doesn’t mean teams that rely on “one and done” players can’t win championships or that those who have four-year players are going to win championships. It just explains why the Laettner shot that defeated Kentucky is still such a big deal after all of these years. It occurred at a time when a player’s ultimate loyalty was to his team and his school, and it was generally assumed the NBA could wait.
So is there a spiritual lesson here? Absolutely!
In the church I serve we call disciples of Jesus “Kingdom People.” Christians aren’t the first Kingdom People. In Hebrews 11 there is a long list of people going all the way back to Abel who were “all in” when it came to letting God reign in their lives. Some of them lived before Jesus came, but they were Kingdom People because they walked by faith and were willing to go where God asked them to go and do what God asked them to do.
I want you to know, I am “all in” when it comes to God’s kingdom, and I take what Satan is doing in people’s lives very personally. I take the defeats people experience because of sin personally. I take people dying without Jesus personally.
Ok, so I can’t win the world. But that’s not the point. I am a part of God’s kingdom and I know what He wants. He wants the world to know Jesus. I want the world to know Jesus.
I hope it is personal for you too. I hope you weep over people who die without Jesus and look for people who need Jesus. I hope you enter a worship space and look for people you don’t know who are sitting alone. I hope you reach out to people who are hurting without Jesus.
Yea, that shot was personal. I still remember the dark cloud that settled over our family’s living room when it happened.
However, God didn’t send His Son to die for a basketball game.
But he did send Him to die for a basketball team.
And for Christian Laettner.
Yes, it is true. Some things are bigger than basketball.