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Admiration of an Enemy

Last night, I betrayed one of my greatest loves. I showed disloyalty that almost amounts to adultery.

I was watching my beloved Lakers take on the hated Boston Celtics. I wouldn’t have even been watching the game if the Lakers weren’t playing. It was not my intent to flirt with the enemy.

Then, I watched as history was made. Ray Allen broke free late in his already brilliant first quarter. He did what I have seen him do way too many times. He rose up, with perfect form, and buried a three pointer over the late-to-rotate Kobe Bryant. This is something I have experienced many times. There is no one better breaking free than Ray Allen.

The special thing about this one was that it was the 2,561st time that he had done it. No one had ever made more three pointers.

To do this, Ray Allen had to show up hours before every game and shoot three pointers. He had to work out in the off seasons and maintain his conditioning for 15 years. No one in the NBA has worked harder than Allen. No one has maintained his level of class and humility, either.

I want to hate him. Oh, I want to hate him so bad. There are few people that have broken my heart with such consistency. He did it 8 times in game two of the NBA finals last year. He made seven straight in the first half. The Celtics stealing that game almost cost the Lakers the championship. There’s no one I want to hate more.

But, I can’t hate him. There’s nothing to hate about a guy that shows up hours early to shoot three pointers, buries them with amazing consistency, and continues to come off as humble and gracious.

You see, I grew up wanting to be in the NBA. I wanted to be an NBA player really bad. I shot the ball for hours every, single day.

And I never got very good.

NBA players have to work hard to make it there. However, they need more than that. They also need the right genetics. If they are going to be 5’5” (like me) they are going need to be a lot more athletic than I am.

Perhaps that is why I am so touched by someone like Ray Allen. I love when talent and hard work intersect. I love watching someone work their butt off to be everything God made them to be.

When I look at Ray Allen, I see the results of extreme talent and good luck intersecting with extraordinary dedication and work ethic. The results are worth admiring. I admire Ray Allen. I also admire his Creator. I am thankful to Ray Allen for putting in the work and not squandering the gift God gave him.

Be like him. Whatever God made you to do, do it with everything. Don’t squander the gifts he gave you. Don’t waste your life. Ray Allen became everything he could. Do the same.

I want to hate him. I can’t. Congratulations, Ray Allen.



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