Y NOW YOU PROBABLY don't want to hear or read another word about the term role model. From Charles Barkley to Karl Malone to countless radio talk show hosts, the question of who is a role model and who isn't has been asked and answered so many times you'd think it was as impor1ant as the national debt. It just might be. This idea of role models is important to us at Sports Spectrum because of our purpose. We make it a point to feature people who have already established themselves as worthy of being emulated. This is not an easy thing for us-or for the athlete. Whenever you choose to feature people because of their character, you run the risk of their doing something disappointing later. And on behalf of the sport figures themselves, we must confess that none of us understand the kind of pressure they are called on to endure in the heat of, let's say, a championship game in the NBA. And once a player has appeared in Sports Spectrum, those who have seen the article expect something special from him or her. We would hope th at a bat is never thrown, a cross word is never said to a ref, and a nasty contract dispute is never conducted by a person whose story of faith we tell in this magazine. Yet it is important to understand that a role model is in many ways just like us. Who hasn't missed an
easy layup in a pickup game and slammed his hand against the mat? Who hasn't gotten upset when an official missed a key call? Who hasn't been a bit put out because the person in the next office got a raise? Who likes to lose? We admire men and women who can handle those things with grace and honor, but we cannot quickly condemn those who express honest, controlled emotion during intense competition. Athletes generally establish a pattern of on-the-field behavior. An occasional lapse into anger, though regrettable, is understandable. Sports figures who are concemed about their standing with the fans and their colleagues will apologize for and correct their errors, and they know enough not to repeat the error. And off the courts or fields, they will handle themselves with class-spending time with their families, staying away from places that lead to trouble, doing good for others, and treating kindly the people they meet. These are the kinds of people who have a double value in the spor1s world. They not only earn our respect because of their skill , but they also earn our respect as people. One of the best examples we know of someone who exemplifies those qualities is Rob Pelinka, a young man with one NCAA . championship ring and two additional trips to the finals as a member of the Michigan Wolverines basketball team. Pelinka is a classy young man who treats everyone as a friend. He wi llingly and eagerly takes young people under his wing-especially those
he perceives as having a special need. Like the young man Rob met at a three-on-three basketball toumament (see this column in October Sports Spectrum for details). The teen had just recently lost his father to a heart attack and was "angry at God." Rob talked at length with him about the importance of remembering that as a Christian he had a heavenly Father to watch over him. Then he let him tag along to his games and as he signed autographs later. For Rob Pelinka, basketball is a means to an end-because of his exposure as a Wolverine, he has an opportunity to reach out with Christ's love to kids like this one. In this edition of Sports Spectrum, we are bringing you more examples of people who understand that life is more than chasing bouncing balls and trophies. You 'll meet some young, up-and-coming athletes like Darrin Smith, Tony Bennett, and Joy Russell, and some who have been around for a while- Wally Armstrong, Avery Johnson, and Keith Ericksen. We can 't control all they say and do, but we know that as believers in Jesus Christ, they have living within them the Holy Spirit of God, who is the source of godly self-control- and the only power that can make any of us the kinds of role models we need to be.
The Rookies A look at two young athletes who attempted the big jump to the prosand survived:
&AGood First Impression As a rookie in 1992-93, Hornets guard Tony Bennett was tested and found ready. by Rick Hines &Rob Bentz
&Darrin is Rarin' To Go Darrin Smith is a 23year-old rookie with the Cowboys, but he's already made an impact by Jim Gibbs
Dave Branon, managing editor Sports Spectrum
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDI TS: Cover: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBA Photos; p. 2 (top) AI T ielemans!Duomo, (bottom) Louis Deluca; p. 3 (top lett) Andrew Bernsteini NBA Photos, (lop center) Carroll Morgan, (top right) Focus on Sports, (bottom) Dan Martin/Portland State University; p. 6 (top) AI Ti elemans/Duomo, (bottom) Louis Deluca; p. 7 AI Ti elemans/Duomo; p. 8 (left) Courtesy, UW Green Bay, (right) Louis Deluca; p. 9 Louis Deluca; p. 10 Mike Cooper/ AIIsport; p. 11 Vernon Biever; p. 12 (top) Andre Pichette/Canadiens; (bottom) Toronto Blue J ays; p. 13 Marc Levine/New York Mets; p. 14 Lou Capozzola/NBA Photos; p. 15 Art Foxaii/NBA Photos; pp. 16-17 Focus on Sports; p. 18 Andrew Bernstein/NBA Photos; p. 19 Tim DeFriscoiN BA Photos; p. 20 AI Tielemans!Ouomo; p. 21 (left) WomenÂˇs International Bowling Congress, (right) Focus on Sports; p. 22 Brian Spurlock ; p. 23 Courtesy, Scott Bradley; p. 24 Bill Smith; p. 26, 27 Carroll Morg an; p. 28 Don Pavloski; p. 29 Dan Martin/Portland State University ; p. 30 (left) Don Pavloski, (right) Courtesy Dan and Joy Ru ssell. 2
S POR T S SP ECTRUM â€˘ NOV E MBE Fl 1993
Open Court Ace returns from Sports Spectrum readers SS Fan Poll
26 "First You Take This
The Little Guard That Could
Hula Hoop ..."
Avery Johnson keeps getting better at proving there's still a place for small guys in th e NBA by Rob Bentz
Former pro golfer Wally Armstrong isn't your average golf instructor by Sam Woolwine
Clippings Waddy's World by Watson (Waddy) Spoelstra
Give It All You've Got Living up to your potential takes focus and faith by David Egner
Legends Catching up with Keith Erickson by Tom Felten
22 28 My Life with lia Bulls Sheer Joy
The inside story of a man who strives to give spiritual help to a team of desti ny by Scott Bradley
In 1992 she was Division II volleyball player of the year. What is Joy Russell doing for an encore? by Richard Koe
compiled by Rob Bentz
The Swirsky Report
Jason Hanson by Rob Bentz Anthony Johnson by Mark Syswerda Dana Miller-Mackey by Beverly Flynn
Airing It Out Reviewing a year of tragedy in sports by Rob Bentz
by Chuck Swirsky
Volume 7, Number 9 SPORTS SPECTRUM MAGAZINE A DISCOVERY HOUSE PUBLICATION. PUBLISHER Dave S..nham: MANAGING EDITOR Dave Branon: MARKETING PRODUCTION MANAGER Tom Fe11en: PRODUCTION ASSISTANT RobSenlz: ART DIRECTOR Steve Qer: GRAPHIC DESIGNER Laune Nolson: ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS Usa Ouist. Seveny Flynn: ADVISORY COMMITTEE Chuck Swirsky, Sports O..ector, WGN Radio. Chicago; Dick Mason, President, Discovery Hou$8 PubliShers: Ralph Orolinger, President, Sports Outreach AmeriCa; Ky$8 Rote Jr.. PreskSont, AttWte Resource Management . COVER PHOTO: Nathaniel S. Butler1NBA Photos SPORTS SPECTRU M ls produced 12 times a yeBI by Discovery House Publishefs. which is alfil1ated With Radio Bble Class. a noodooominatooal Chfistian organization whose purpose ls to lead people of all nations to personal faith In Jesus Christ and growth in His likeness by teaching principles from thO Bible. Punted In USA. Copynght C 1993 by Discovery House Publishers. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Blb'e quotations, unless othorwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright ~ 1973. 1978. 1984.1nternational Bible Society. Usedby permis· sion of Zondervan Sible Publishers. Freelance writers should query the managing editor by mall lor writers' guidelines. SPORTS SPECTRUM subscfipbons are available for $18.97/twelve issues Of $23.97 outside the USA (in US lunds) by writing to SPORTS SPECTRU Msubscr\)tions, Box 3566. Grand Rapids, Ml 49501·3566, by calling toll free t ·S00-653-8333.
SPOR1 S SPECTRUM • N OVE MB E R
For Subscription Services,•
CALL TOLL FREE:
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request. At the end of each article could you provide an address where the sports figure could be reached? There have been several individuals in the past that we would have liked to have written and thank for their personal example. - DAN & AARON OSBORN Elizabeth City, NC
We appreciate your interest in wanting to write and encourage the athletes you read abolll in SS. Generally, the best place to write is to the team an athlete plays for. -Ed.
Hitting Honae Thank you for the feature Waddy's World (September 1993), which truly inspired me with the story of the Danny Thompson Award. I had gone through a most difficult weekend with many important issues facing me, and I felt beaten. The article really hit home with me to remind me of living day by day and to give all to the Lord. - STEVEN ELLIOTT Westwood, MA
D a nny's F a naily Danny Thompson was my cousin, so we were excited when my son came across the article on hi m. I shared it with Danny's mother as well as other family members. We all have fond memories of what a great person Danny was.
Mo..e Sta ts, P lease My son asked me to change our subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids. Because I disagree with the parent magazine, I said, "No." But then l asked him about the differences between the two magazines. He said his friend gets more posters and more statistics on everyone-not just Christians. He also feels the games are covered more adequately-instead of just personal profiles. Now that you're a monthly magazi ne, l 'm wondering if we can get more of the actual sports news, along with a few profiles. We' ll try the magazine for one more year.
see more articles on runners. For the years I've been receiving SS, there haven't been too many. Another suggestion that I believe would be a plus for the magazine is to have an article a month on an everyday, normal person who is a Christian involved in athletics (no age limit). I believe it would be good for readers to learn about professionals and nonprofessionals alike. - MIKE IVEBER Santa Rosa, CA
P lea sed in P uerto Rico I have been receiving your magazine for about a year, and it's been a blessing to me to see that
- MARY PLEUSS Appleton, WI
We strive to make the magazine as current as possible. Thanks : for the reminder to get more · W a nna w ..ite sports "stuff' between the COI' Thank you for the finest sports ers. Because SS is read by such a magazine my son and I have ever wide age range, we simply can't read. The Christian influence in gear it to one spec1jic audiencesports is overlooked. Style and such as young people. ! hope flash have overridden life values you' ll stay on our team for many in a way that has encouraged the more years! -Ed. youth of America to look at what F e a tu..e sports can give them- not at the nNo..ana l" P eople difference an individual can make in li ves through sporls. I enjoy Sports Spectrum for the different articles you do on Please continue to look for the Christian athletes. I would like to best in sports examples. One - TRUDY STR UNK V.alley Center, KS
S PORTS S P EC TR UM • N O V E M B E R 1 993
many athletes are Christians. I'm a member of Baseball Chapel with the Puerto Rico Winter Leagues. I am the chaplain for the Ponce team. We minister to the players and are praying that one day all the players will come to know our Lord Jesus Christ. Then others can read about them in your magazine! -CARLOS LIMAYDO Ponce, PR
Wha t's Up? Send your thoughts and questions about th is magazine, or the sports world in general, to this address: Sports Spectmm Letters Box 3566 Grand Rapids, Ml 4950 1-3566.
Sports lVews Worth a Second Look
Woa1:h Watching IT'S NO MYSTERY WHY many par-
ents are struggling to know what to do about TV. It offers them programs with so much hot violence, immorality, and foul language you wonder why the wires don't melt. The real mystery is why the people in charge so often choose not to produce or even allow programs that don't offend, and in fact, could inspire. Why are they afraid of doing something to help build people up and offer hope? Why, for instance, when Diane Preston-Reill y of Challenger Fil ms finall y persuaded ESPN to run two segments of her 13-part series called The Winning Edge did the sports network not conti nue with the programs? It would be understandable had the series bombed, but it didn't. The program, which features sports figures like Mike Singletary and Betsy King alongside gifted teenage athletes who talk about sports and faith, got a good Nielsen rating and resulted in more letters arriving at the sports guys' Bristol, CT, offices than for any previous program. Undaunted, Preston-Reilly COI.JRTESYOF THE W!.'.'NNG EDG£ went to ABC, .A. Overcomer s. wondering if that Gymnast and network might wrelltler Bruce want something Banta is typical wholesome and of the athletes featured in The inspirational. Winning Edge. She was told, "When the programs become too persuasive, we can't use them." Odd words indeed from ABC. Preston-Reill y then went to TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network. They saw the value of The Winning Edge and are broadcasting it th rough November at 2 pm Eastern time on Saturdays. Look for it. It's worth watching.
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
remains intact. "It's full speed FOOTBALL CHAPEL SPEAKERS bring God's message ahead," says Washington from a wide range of backcoordinator Lee Corder. The grounds. Some are from high Redskins have six field cap· and rather inaccessible tains. Five are chapel reguplaces. Like Justice Clarence lars, running backs Earnest Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Byner and Brian Mitchell, Court. Justice Thomas delivcenter Raleigh McKenzie and erect the pre-game defenders Monte message when the Long-time sp orts- Coleman and Brad Cowboys visited Edwards. All-Pro writer Watson the nation's capi- (Waddy) Spoelstra, cornerback Darrell tal to begin Green has been a a scribe for the defense of their force for spiritual Detroit N ews for NFL championll years. 30 years and ship. His listeners The 49ers again founder of Baseball have solid spiritual included owner leadership. Tight Jerry Jones, head Chapel, taltes an inside look at foot- end Brent Jones coach Jimmy Johnson, 25 play- ball and baseball. and tackle Steve ers, and other team personWallace are out front. Both made the Pro Bowl last year. nel. Some 40 in all. "Our behavior is very important to They get help from linebacker God," Thomas told them. "He Darin Jordan and Scooter watches us more closely than McGruder, an aptly named cornerback. His real name is a football coach watches his team." John Weber, chapel Michael. coordinator for the Cowboys for 15 years, could sense the Looking back on the year in baseball, there's a fascination impact. He said, "Justice Thomas is a man of God. He for power-hitting Juan represents deep moral Gonzalez, Texas Rangers left courage." The Cowboys have fielder. Juan is learning to strong player leadership for speak out for the Lord in two languages. Last winter he vischapels and Bible studies. Safety Bill Bates and guard ited dozens of schools in his native Puerto Rico. His basic John Gesek are veterans. New support comes from message in Spanish: "God rookie linebacker Darrin first, then education and Smith and defensive end sports." He's had months of English tutoring and is learn· Chad Hennings. Coach Joe Gibbs always ing to express himself more found time for the Bible while clearly. "The Lord helps me," winning three Super Bowls in he told the USA Today in a a dozen years with the late-season home run surge. Redskins. Now Gibbs is gone, "Juan speaks from the but the chapel program heart," says Luis Mayoral,
S I~I:C l
R U M · NOVEMBI:R 1993
Puerto Rican media figure who does public relations for the Rangers. "He still has much to learn about God. We all do. He comes from a good family. He's not afraid to say what he believes." In three seasons Gonzalez has hardly missed Sunday chapel. John Weber says, "He has a heart for people. He's young in the faith. He gives glory to God." By big league standards Gonzalez is off to an incredible start. This year he reached the l 00 career level in home runs before his 24th birthday.
•Greg McMichael says he was a guy going nowhere until the Lord turned him into a some· body. Is this the Greg who became Atlanta's bullpen ace? Sure is. Let's have Greg tell the story: "Cleveland drafted me out of the University of Tennessee. When T hurt my arm and needed surgery, the Indians told me: 'See you later.' Atlanta signed me for the farm system, but I wanted to quit. My knee was killing me. A scout talked me into sticking it out. Things got a little better and last fall I played winter ball. That took me to spring training with the Braves. I wasn't planning on making the team. But the Lord had taken control of my life. He seemed to be saying: 'Greg, I'm going to let you play this year by My rules.' When I had baseball, it was taken away. God gave it back to me. I thank Him and appreciate it more than ever. My parents were divorced when I was young. Then both came to know the Lord. They remarried. I saw Jesus through their lives. They sat down with me and explained salvation. I decided to give God a chance. But I never thought He would reward me the way He has." 5
AGOOD FIRST IMPRESSION Athletes who enter the world of professional sports are suddenly thrust into a special realm, complete with high salaries, great expectations, and dangerous traps. Here are the stories of how Tony Bennett of the Charlotte Hornets and Darrin Smith ofthe Dallas Cowboys are coping with the jump to the big time.
SPORTS SPEC T R UM â€˘ N OVE M BER 1 993
For Charlotte's secondyear man Tony Bennett, being a rookie meant new levels of challenge and competition By Rick Hines &
HE TELEV ISION COMMERC IAL
rem inds us, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression." It didn't take Tony Bennett of the Charlotte Hornets long to find that out. "We we re in a huddl e in the lockerroom before the game," Bennett recalls, "and my teammates said, ' Hey rookie, lead us out on the court, this is your first home game.' I'm all excited, so I run out onto the court, thinking everyone is running wi th me. All of a sudden I get to half court, turn around, and they' re all standing in the tunnel laughing at me." Probably not the first impression that you'd want to make with the hometown fans in Hornet country, but after a fine rookie season Tony Bennett need not worry about his freshman folly. The 6' point guard from th e University of Wisconsin-Green Bay averaged II minutes and 3.5 points per ga me in the tea l, purple, and white uniform of the Charl otte Hornets during hi s 1992-93 rookie season. Not exactl y earth-shattering numbers, but perhaps a good base to build on for future success. " I kn ow I can play at hi s level," Bennett explain s confidentl y as he reflects on his first season. "And I think I can help our team. I want to use the ex perience I had last year to become more comfortable on the court, under-
stand the system a little more, and discover what our team wants. I'm excited about the future." Indeed, the entire Charlotte community is excited about th e future of its basketball franchise. The Hornets are led by a couple of young superstars in Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson. Add th e lik es of Mu ggsy Bogues, Kenny Gatti son, Bennett, and former 76ers' All -Star Hersey Hawkins, and you have the makings of a champi onship contender for years to come. In last year's playo ffs, the Hornets made a bold statement to the rest of the NBA, knocking off the fabled Boston Celtics in the fi rst round on a buzzerbeater by Mourning. "When Alonzo hit that game-winning shot to eliminate the Celtics, that was unbelievable!" recalls Bennett. "There were grown men rolling on the floor, piling on each other. The excitement in the Coli seum- with 24,000 fans going crazy-was definitely the highlight of my rookie season." It's understandable that the Hornets intense playoff victory was the highlight for the second -round draft choice, but what about the rest of his rooki e year? Life had to be very different for someo ne moving from th e MidContinent Conference to the National Basketball Associati on. Pl ay ing Wright State and playing Golden State are definitely different experiences. "Every time you step onto the court as a rookie, you have to prove yourself," Bennett says. " You really have to do it every time yo.u 're on the fl oor. Guys are going to go at you , they' re going to tes t you, th ey' re going to make sure you can dribble. They'll put the pressure on you, and you have to meet the challenge. Nobody is going to back clown because you built a reputati on in college." I f a college reputati on did indeed strike fear into NBA hearts, Bennett might be one of the most feared players in the league. In 4 years at guard for the Universi ty of Wi sconsin-Green Bay Phoenix, Bennett averaged nearl y 20 points per game, ending his career with
Looking ahead. After undergoing arthroscopic surgery during the offseason, Bennett is looking forward to playing pain-free as he helps direct the Hornet offense.
2,285 points. But in the NBA, reputation has littl e meaning, and Bennett has had to adapt from being th e go- to guy on a team coached by his father Dick Bennett, to being a part-time player. " Basketball i s a gam e of adju stments. But the key for me is coming in and being ready all of the time," Bennett explains. " You have to be real positi ve about it." Bennett says he ge ts th at positi ve att itude fro m th e faith he has in Jesus Chri st. He recentl y told th e Th e
Charlol/e Observer, " Every cla y I wake up, I'm thankful for my health and thi s oppo rtunit y. I ' m doin g th e Lord 's work . I ' m a Christian basketball player who has a love for the Lord." A Bible verse helps keep things in perspecti ve, Bennett says. It 's a verse hi s clad often quoted for his college team. "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by th e prai se he rece i ves ( Prov erbs 27:2 1)." That praise can result in pressure, especially for a pro athlete. "Our whole job is pressure," Bennett ex plain s. " You ' re being evaluated and critiqued every clay. You 're in a position where you're a role model for a community. There are al ways temptations. I always think of that verse where God says He does not all ow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. I'm just trying to keep my life as pure as l can in Him."
Accordin g to hi s father, Tony has matured since entering the NBA. " It 's exciting to obsetve his spiritual growth," said the elder Bennett. "Quite frankly, l think he's as much, if not more of an inspiration to me than I am to him." Young Bennett doesn' t necessaril y agree with that. " I owe so much of my basketball success to him. He reall y pushed me to the limit and he got the most out of me. He knew my dream was to have an opportunit y to play in the NBA. I'd say he did a pretty good j ob." But Tony says there's a big difference between the pro game where he makes his living and the college game th at hi s fath er helped him master. "Everything steps up a level. You fi nd some incredible athl etes. The guys are faster, stronger, and bigger. It's defi -
SPO RT S S PECTRUM â€˘ N OVEMBER 1 903
The dad advantage. Like so many other sons who play for their coaching fathers, Bennett has had the added bonus of learning the mental part of the game early.
DARRIN IS RARIN' TO GO
Spurred on by his family and his faith, Cowboy rookie linebacker Darrin Smith is already making his mark in the NFL
By Jim G ibbs
NSIDE TH E C OWBOYS' DINING HALL
COURTESY Of UNIVERSITY OF \'r'ISCONSIN-GAEEN SAY
nitely more physical- they [officials] let things go." Alth ough the game is on a new level, th e fo rmer UWGB standout doesn ' t fin d himse lf in awe of his famous competition. "You play against so many so-called big name players th at you've grown up watching. And yo u' re j ust out there competing. It's almost li ke a faceless guy, you' re aware of his strengths and his weaknesses, but I think you get in trouble if you start say ing, ' Holy Cow, thi s is Mark Price or thi s is Terry Porter.' You're at that level for a reason. You just have to look at them as another player and as a great challenge." Tony Bennett has met the challenges of his rookie year and he has made a good first impression on the NBA. And as he heads into his sophomore season, he's learned at least one vital lesson in the process- let someone else lead the Hornets out of the tunnel.
Rick Hines is a freelance ll'riter who li1•es in lola, Wisconsin. a
at St. Edwards Uni versit y in Austin, Texas, Darrin Smi th blends in wi th the defensive backs who are about to attack the dessert line. Sporting a black baseball cap with a Coca-Cola logo on it and wearing a reel T-shirt, the 6' I" 237-pouncl Smith might easily be mistaken for a representative of the soft-drink conglomerate, seeking out a Troy Aikman or a Michael Irvi n to do an "Always CocaCola" TV spot. "There were a lot of people who said Darrin was too small to be a linebacker in this league," said form er Cowboys quarterback and current rad io commentator Babe Laufenberg. "But he's shown he can play big, and I've been im pressed with what I' ve seen him do here at camp." Not that he had been at ·camp all that long. It was a couple of weeks into the preseason and Smith, a second-round draft choice, had been an earl y holdout, joining the Cowboys at camp 6 clays after everyone else had reported. "The negotiati ons took longer than we expected, but fortunately we were ab le to get everything worked out," Smith says of his mini-holdout. "I didn 't li ke com ing in late, because you always wonder what kind of impression you ' re making on you r teammates. But as long as I'm doing my
SPORTS SPECTRUM • N OVEMBER 1993
best and fo llow ing God , everythin g else will fall into place." Three clays befo re Smith had reporteel to camp, he found himself dri ving around Dallas in his pickup, looking for a church to go to and praying that God would lead him to the right place. " It was Sunday, and I really wanted to go to church," he recalls. "I clicln 't k11ow of any particularly good churches to go to, so r just hopped in my truck and headed clown the highway. I'd see a church and thin k, No, 1101 this one. "Then, after I had driven for about 45 minutes, I noticed a sign for Concord Baptist Church in Dallas and saw that an evangelist I reall y enjoyed hearing in Miami was there. So I pulled in and went to the service. It was a tremendous blessing. I wound up rededicating my
life to the Lord that clay. Within the next couple of days my agent and I were able to wo rk out a contract, and by Wednesday I was in camp." The evange li st had mentioned "d ivine naviga ti on. " When Smith heard this, he knew he was in the right place. "When he told us that some of us were here through God 's navigation and
didn't really know when we woke up this morning that we would be at this particular church, that really spoke to me," Smith explains. " It was right there that I knew God was talking to me and that I wanted to rededicate my life to Him. I think God wanted me to rededicate my life to Him before I got into pro football , and who knows, that may be why I didn't sign my contract sooner. "I'm going to meet so many people as a pro football player, and not all of them are going to be good people. So keeping God first in my life is a must in this situation. I'm going to have a lot of things thrown at me, but if I keep Him first, l know He's going to guide me." Growing up, Smith got a lot of guidance from his older brothers and sisters. He is the youngest of five children, and his father passed away when he was in elementary school. "My two older brothers helped me out a lot," he explains. "They were 6 and 7 years older than me, and I would always play ball with them and their fliends. Almost every day I'd go home crying, because I was the little guy. Now I'm bigger than both of them." It was his brothers who made Smith keep go in g, even thou gh he often wanted to forget a football career. "They wouldn 't allow me to quit," he says of his big bros. That close bond with his brothers and his immediate family has helped make Sm ith more mature th an the average rookie. If nothing else, Smith seems to have a pe~ce about himself and his role with the Cowboys. ''I'm a pretty laid-back person. I might yell and throw my hands up, but that's abo ut it. That 's probabl y why it seemed that I didn 't stand out more," the laid-back linebacker says of his days at the University of Miami. During his fin al 2 years at Miami, however, he certainly got somebody's attention. Smith was a two-time AllAmerican, an All-Big East selection, and a semi-finalist for the Dick Butkus Award. And he definitely got the attention of opposing ballcaniers, finishing
fourth on the Humcane's all-time tackle list with 401. Smith also drew some attention in the classroom. Last spring he was awarded a master's degree in business administration at the ripe old age of 23. "It was definitely tough," he says of being a true scholar-athlete. "Playing football at Miami and then trying to get all your school work done too was very difficult. But it 's just a matter of setting goals for yourself and doing what is necessary to achieve those goals. When I first entered Miami, I knew I wanted to get my MBA. By setting that goal for myself early and knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve, I was able to do it." Smith wi ll tell you that the key to success is not necessarily a high SAT score or being the smartest kid in the class. Instead, he says, it is a matter of making the most of God-given talents. "I wasn't a great student in high school," he confesses. "It was hard for me. I didn't just breeze through high school like a lot of my classmates in the MBA program. I had to work for that B average, and I really thin k it made me a better person. More than anything else, I want people to realize that you don't necessari ly have to be the biggest or the sma11est or the fastest to be successful. What you do have to do is to use the talents God has given yo u and work hard. I've always believed that if you work hard, God will bless your efforts. I also know that if I give Him the glory in everything I do, He will help me in whatever I do."
Because he knows that his football career won't last forever, Smith says that it is particularly important to work hard now and play up to his potential while he is still young and able to play. "I didn't even want a TV in my room, and I asked that they not put one in there," he reveals about his training camp conditions. "I just want to be as focused as I can possibly be. I don't want any distractions. I want to bt: ablt: to work out hard and then, during my free time, read my Bible and pray. I feel that I need to spend my time with the Lord when I have some free time." Jimmy Johnson is not a coach who is known for giving his players a lot of free time-especially rookies. But ch Da vis, Dal las' defen siv e coordinator, feels that Smith is catching on fast. " Darrin is starting to understand the intensit y and tempo it 's going to take to be a bi g- ti me NFL player." If he stays healthy, Smith could be making an impact in the NFL for years to come. He may not stand out in the crowd like some of the more flamboyant players, but opposing players will more than likely remember his name when they try to nm or pass on him. And if he keeps fo ll owing his "divine navigation" system, people will remember Danin Smith as much for his faith as they will for his football.
The other Smith. His holdout wasn't as long as Emmitt's, and he hasn't suffered a serious illness as has Jimmy Smith with his appendectomy, but it's no stretch to say that Darrin Smith Is beginÂˇ ning to make a name for himself as a Cowboy.
Jim Gibbs is a high school teacher and freelan ce writer who lives in Arlington , Texas.
S P O RT S S PE C T RU M â€˘ N O V E M B E R 1 9 9 3
Give 1e All Yo.... •ve Goe! In athletics and in life, it takes focus, determination, and faith to reach your full potential • By David E gner ARRIN SM ITH, a high draft choice of the world champion Dallas Cowboys, will probably make it in the NFL. All the rookie linebacker from the Miami Hurricanes has to do is continue the course he set in college. Here are a few highlights from his long list of accomplishments: 1 1
1991, 1992 All-American 1992 All Big East Conference Toyota Leadership Award Iron Arrow Award (Miami's highest award) 1992 Scholar-Athlete Awards (4) Cotton Bowl pass interception and 34-yard touchdown return Career-high 18 tackles (vs. Florida State)
Add to these achievements his work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Miami 's "Join a Team, Not a Gang" campaign, and you've got a young man who gets the full potential out of the life God has given him. And that doesn't even take into account the master's degree he has already earned. Last summer, about the time Smith was beginning his NFL career, another football player who always gave. it his all was being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dedicated conditioning, long hours of practice, numerous reps, and a clear focus enabled Walter Payton to turn his God-given talent into the NFL's all-time career rushing leadership-16,726 yards. (That 's almost 10 miles of tough yardage!) Payton gained 3,500 yards more than his closest competitor, Eric Dickerson, and almost 4,000 yards more than the talented Tony Dorsett. 10
It's no surprise to find the name Mark Price on this list. Here's a man who is not big by NBA standards. But he gives it everythi ng he has while he's on the court. All it takes to show his impact is a look at the record of the Cavaliers. When he's on the court, they win; when he's hurt, it 's a different story. If we' re going to realize our potential, we need to decide to give our total effort to whatever we are doing. Jesus did, going all the way to the cross. From inside will come voices that tell us it's too hard or it's useless anyway or we're tired. We cannot listen to those voices. Rather, we must maintain a clear .a. Striving for success. A strong work ethic and a sense of vision, dediquick grasp of the Cowboys' system made the differcate ourselves to our ence as Dallas head coach Jimmie Johnson named goals, and give it a rookie Darrin Smith his starting weak-side linebacker fu ll eff011. after only three NFL games. One time Jesus made a comment that applies to this. Hard-driven genuine humility, and calls on us Martha had a sister named Mary, f) DEDICATION to be thankful to the God who is who poured burial perfume on A person who reaches his or: her the source of all things, and who full potential will be dedicated to Jesus. Judas and the others were gave us our bodies and our talent. outraged. But Jesus said of her, @A TOTAL EFFORT excellence. The Bible speaks of "She has clone what she could" the kind of dedication it takes to A sportswriter recently devised excel with this statement: his own NBA All-Star team. He (Mark 14:8). She may not have been a wi zard in the kitchen like Whatever you do, whether in compiled a team of players who word or deed, do it all in the were known for giving everything Martha. She probably wasn't the they had, every moment of every kind to be shovy or showy. Her name of the Lord 1eSIIs, giving talents may well have been limitthanks to God the Father through game they played. Here's his list: ed. But in her willingness to Him (Colossians 3:17). 1 Mark Price, Cavaliers This verse defines dedication. 1 Michael Jordan, Bulls please Jesus, she did what she could. It involves all aspects of life. It 1 Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets Wouldn't it be great if the includes what we think, what we 1 Chris Mullin, Warriors say, and what we do. It involves 1 Charles Barkley, Suns same could be said of us! You or I may not have the incredible skills of players li ke those, but each of us has been given good gifts by God. Our challenge is to develop and use those gifts to the best of our ability. The Bible puts it this way: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart (Colossians 3:23). Tired of feeling like an underachiever? Wondering what will it take for you to live up to your potential and what qualities you should develop to get the most out of the gifts God has given you? Here's some help. 0 VISION A person who reaches his potential is one who sets high (not impossible) goals for himself and sees himself reaching them. This vision needs to be accompanied by periodic reality checks, including questions like: "Am I starting to settle for less than my best? Am I coasting, living on my reputation? Am I slacking off in those disciplines that make the difference?"
S P O RT S S F? EC TRUM • N OVEM B ER 1 99 3
Catching Up With
• • •
By Tom Felten
my earnings from volleyball is zero," Erickson acknowledges. Basketball was the sport that allowed him to earn a nice li ving. But it didn 't help him get a nice feeling inside. "I was 29 years old, in the middle of my NBA career. I had just about everything. But there was something missing, and I went on a search to find out what it was." Keith began using Ouija boards, tarot cards, and then got involved in cults and the occult. Soon he met a witch. She offered him power, but she didn't help him find the inner Sta.ts Gla.:n.ce peace he longed for. - Was a member of John "It came down to the end Wooden's first two of the game with a few During this NCAA Championship seconds to go. We were time he was runteams in 1964 and 1965 down by a point when a ning a youth bas- Played 12 years in the pass was thrown to me ketball camp in NBA with four teams: under the basket. The ball Warriors, Bulls, went right through my the off-season. He hands and out of boundsLakers, Suns invited a nutria real dog of a play. I just -Scored 8,123 points tionist to the during 853 NBA games prayed that the Lord would camp because he -WontheNBA redeem that. was into health Championship in 1972 "We fouled one of their with the Lakers guys and he went to the food at the time. free throw line and made His first choice to Most Memorable one and missed one. We handle the nutriCareer Moment: got the rebound and as the tion at the camp "There was a playoff game clock was running out a in 1976--the year my player threw the ball to me. was famous fit team, the Suns, played the I was right in front of the ness expert Jack Celtics in the finals. In other team's bench and Lalane. But order to get out of the the coach was yelling to a Jack's schedule defender, 'Don't foul him! Western Conference we was packed, so he had to play the Golden Don't foul him!' State Warriors, who had "I turned and shot it as sent his friend won the NBA title the year the buzzer went off. It went Bud Keith. before. They had a gre~t right through the net and The basketball tied up the game. In overteam with people like Rick player and the Barry, Clifford Ray, time we ended up beating George Johnson, and them and then went back nutritionist hit it Jamaal Wilkes. and took the series.' off and soon became friends. One clay when they were talking, from San Diego to Santa Barbara. He won a few tourn aKeith posed a question and Mr. ments and even played for the Keith answered it by opening his Bible and sharing a verse. From US Olympic team in 1964. In today's beach game, at 6'5" and that time forward the two shared 200 pou nds, he may have given many conversations about the Karch Kiraly a serious run for the Bible, God, and salvation. "He told me about God, " big-time beach money. But not back then. "The total amount of recalls Erickson, "who had creat-
Laker simulcasts, and 2 years handling the color for the Cli ppers on cable. This year he'll be working with fellow Christian Gary Bender, doing a 34-game cable package for the Phoenix Suns-one of his fanner teams. Erickson
ERICKSON GREW UP
raining down jumpers in Southern California. He went on to play on two NCAA championship teams under the Wizard of Westwood, UCLA coaching legend John Wooden. He then played professionally for a dozen years-five of those with the Lakers. So what sport do friends remember him for and still ask him about? Volleyball. Yes, V-ball not B-ball. You see, Keith also grew up setting and spiking on beaches
finds it a pleasure 1 also to serve l~~~~~~:::.::...-:----~;:: with the Union Rescue Mission ed everything and created me. And about Jesus Christ His Son. How he came to earth and lived for 33 years-lived perfectly to fulfill the demands of the law and then took our sins upon Himself on the cross. "And God made me whole as I gave my life to Him. He turned me from wrong side down to right side up and I've been a brand new person ever since." Keith's wife Adrienne, with whom he celebrated 26 years of marriage this year, gave her life to Christ shortly after his conversion. She came to know Christ through a women's Bible study. Now the whole Erickson famil y, including Sean (age 21}, Angelica ( 18), Forest ( 16}, Gloria ( 13), and David ( 12) share a common bond in their Christian faith and in their attendance of Calvary Church in their home town of Pacific Palisades, California. Away from home Keith can be found working as a pro basketball television commentator. Since he left his playing days behind in 1977, Keith has spent a couple years doing NBA on CBS, 8 years doing color on
SPO RT S S P E C T RUM • N O V E M B ER 1 993
and World Impact in L.A.-sitti ng on their respective boards of directors. Both organizations reach out to the troubled inner city of the "City of Ange l s.'~ Keith's motivation is likely seen in the words of one of his favorite Bible verses, Romans I:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Keith Erickson is a prime example of how the power of God can give true meaning to life. Even the life of a volleyball star who, oh yeah, played a little hoop too. ll S-..veet 33
fhe 1971·72 Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA champi· onshlp with Keith Erickson and Co. But their true claim to fame may be the NBA record 33game win streak they had from November 5, 1971 to January 7, 1972. That's one sweet streak!
S ... A ... S
C E N ... RAL
• Keeping Score ofFascinating Facts and 'Ierrific Compiled by Rob B entz
TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT • Sianply the Best When the Montreal Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in game 5 of the 1993 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, they added another jewel to their already impressive crown. It marked the 24th time that the Stanley Cup has found a home with the Canadiens.
A Two dozen. It was like old times as the Habs hoisted the Stanley Cup In celebration of their 24th championship.
The Canadiens took their first cup in 1916 as a member of the Nati onal Hockey Association (NHA). When the NHA disbanded and became the NHL in 1918, the Canadiens should have suggested that the league call itself
the CHL, as in Canadiens Hockey League. The Habs have since taken the Stanley Cup an amazing 23 times: 1924, 1930, 193 1' 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 197 1' 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, and 1993. No other pro sports franchise can match the winning tradition of the Canadiens. Let's look at the winningest franchise in each sport and see how they stack up against this great franchise. Sport Team Titles Hockey .......... Canadiens ........... 24 Basebaii ........ Yankees.............. 22 Basketbaii ........ Celtics ................. 16 Footbaii .........Packers ............... 10 (8 NFL, 2 Super Bowl)
• Hoops Hoopla Apparently kids are listening to the Gatorade commercial that tells them to be like Mike. According to a study released by the Nati onal Sporting Goods Association, kids from the ages of7-to- 17 listed basketball more than any other sport as their favorite.
• World Series MVP BYWINNING THe MVP AlVARO inlhe 1992 World Series, Pat Borders of the Toronto Blue Jays broke up a pitchers' monopoly. The Blue Jays catcher was the first nonpitcher to receive the honor since 1986, when New York Mets third baseman Ray Knight was given the award. Borders was also the first catcher to win the award since Rick Dempsey received the honor as a member of the Baltimore Orioles in 1983. Wozold Sezoies MVP 1983-1992
1992 ....Pat Borders ..........Blue Jays ..catcher 1991 ....Jack Morris ...........Twins ........ pitcher 1990 ....Jose Rijo ..............Reds .........pitcher 1989 ....Dave Stewart ........ A's ............. pitcher 1988 ....0 rel Hershiser ...... Dodgers .... pitcher 1987 ....Frank Viola ...........Twins ........ pitcher 1986 .... Ray Knight............Mets ..........third base 1985 .... Brei Saberhagen .. Royals ....... pitcher . 1984 .... Alan Trammeii ......T1gers ........shortstop 1983 ....Rick Dempsey ......Orioles ......catcher 12
TORONTO BlUE JAYS
A great performance by the Jays' catcher hhelped Torconto dtake t e t1t1e to ana a for the first time. A Borders war.
• Lou Who? MA NYOF US HAVE MIDDLE NAMeS that we would rather keep to ourselves. Some of us have middle names that are just plain boring. Others of us have middle names that are intriguing and unique. Let's have fun with some of today' s top athletes and their middle names. Match the following athletes with their middle name. 1. Lou Whitaker, Detroit Tigers 2. Cornelius Bennett, Buffalo Bills 3. Michael Carter, SF 49ers 4. Mike Witt, New York Yankees 5. Andre Rison, Atlanta Falcons 6. Matt Nokes, New York Yankees 7. Eric Dickerson, Atlanta Falcons 8. Bruce Hurst, Colorado Rockies 9. Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks 10. James Worthy, LA Lakers
a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. j.
O'Landa Dodge D'Andrea Rodman Ager Previn Atwater Vee Aloysius Demetric
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• Guaranteed lanproveanent? With Ihe top pick in the NFL Draft comes many lofty expectations. Fans expect immediate improvement. But history shows that the addition of college football 's top player doesn't guarantee improvement. This listing of the top draft picks since 1970 show what impact his selection had on his team's record the following year. Year Player Position Team Record Year After 1970 ....Terry Bradshaw.......... 08 ..... ..Steelers ............ 1·13.........5·9 1971 ....Jim Plunkett ................ OB ....... Patriots ............. 2·12.........6-8 1972 ... .Walt Patulski ..............DE ....... Bills .......... .. .. .... 1·13.........4·9-1 1973 ....John Matuszak ........... DE ....... Oilers ................ 1·13 .........1-13 1974 .... Ed "Too Tall" Jones .... DE ....... Cowboys .......... 10·4.........8·6 1975 .... Steve Bartkowski ........OB ....... Falcons ............ 3-11 ........ .4·10 1976 .... Lee Roy Selmon......... DE ....... Buccaneers ...... - ...........0-14 1977 .... Ricky Beii ...................RB ....... Buccaneers ......0·14.........2·12 1978 .... Earl Campbell ..... .. ......RB ... .... Oilers ........... ..... 8·6...........10·6 1979 ....Tom Cousineau ..........LB ........Bills .................. 5·11 .........7-9' 1980 .... Billy Sims .................... RB ....... Lions ................ 2-14.........9·7 1981 ....George Rogers ...........RB ....... Saints ...............1·15 ...... ..4·12 1982 ....Ke nneth Sims ............. DE ....... Patriots .... ......... 2·14 ........ 5-4** 1983 ....John Elway .................OB ....... Colts ........ .........0·8·1 ....... 7·9" ' 1984 .... Irving Fryar .................WR ...... Patriots ............8·8 .......... 9-7 1985 .... Bruce Smith ................ DE .......Bills ..... ............. 2·14 ........2-14 1986 .... Bo Jackson ................. RB .......Buccaneers ...... 2·14 ....... .2·14 1987 .... Vinny Testaverde .......OB ....... Buccaneers ...... 2-14 ....... .4-11 1988 .... Aundray Bruce .......... .LB ........Falcons ............ 3·12 ........ 5·11 1989 ....Troy Aikman ............... OB .......Cowboys ..........3·13 ........ 1·15 1990 .... Jeff George ................OB .......Colts .................8·8 ....... ... 7·9 1991 ... .Russell Maryland ........ DL. ....... Cowboys .......... 7-9 ....... ... 11-5 1992 .. .. Steve Emtman ........... .DL. ....... Colts .................1·15 ........ 9-7 1993 .... Drew Bledsoe .............OB .......Patriots ............ 2·14 ........ ??? • Cousineau chose 10 play in 1he Canadian Fool ball League. •• Slrike·shortened season ••• Draf1 righ1s rraded 10 1he Denver Broncos ror QB Mark Herrmann, 1he righls 10 OL Chris Hinlon, and a fir>l round pick in 1984.
SPORTS S PECTRUM • N OVEMBER 1993
Trivia frona the "World of Sports ~1TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT ·
• Undefeated When New York Mets pitcher Anthony Young threw a threehitter for 8 innings against the San Diego Padres on July 24 and lost 2-0, he had to wonder if his 27 -game losing streak would ever end. He didn 't have to wait long. Just 4 days later, Young's streak of futility finally came to a halt when the Mets scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat .a. Good loser. He the Florida lost a long string .. of games, but A Y Mat ltns 5· 4 didn't lose his and give dignity in the face Young his of adversity. first victory in more than a year. Despi te the accumulating losses, Young himself never seemed to be defeated. The infamous 27-game losing streak began on May 6, 1992 with a loss to the Cincinnati Reds and continued until the Met rally on July 28, 1993 produced a long-awaited W. Young's losing streak broke the previous mark of 23 consecuti ve losses set by Cliff Curtis of the old Boston Braves in 1910 and 1911. Here's a breakdowi1 of Young's streak:
14 straight losses in 1992 and 13 in 1993 1 14 losses as a starter, 13 losses as a reliever 1 a 6.31 earned run average 1 73 appearances without a victory It was a long and difficult 14 months for Young. Yet he handled himself well under the intense scrutiny of both the New York and the national media. 1
Q: Wh at can y ou tell m e
about K evin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns?
Chuck: The Phoenix Suns point guard grew up In Sacramento, California. He played college ball at the University of California, where he averaged 14 points per game during a stellar collegiate career. In 1987, the Cleveland Cavaliers used their seventh pick in the first round to draft KJ. Midway through his rookie season in Cleveland, Johnson was traded, along with Mark West, Tyrone Corbin, a 1988 firstand second-round draft choice, plus a 1989 secondround draft choice to the Phoenix Suns for Larry Nance, Mike Sanders, and a 1988 second-round draft choice. Johnson has been a splendid player for the Suns ever since. Not 6nly can KJ shoot the J, but he can play a little baseball too. The Oakland A's drafted Kevin in the 23rd round of the 1986 free-agent draft, and he played in two games at shortstop for Modesto in the California League in 1986. He's quite an athlete.
Who is the best quarterback in NFL history?
Chuck: When thinking about the best of all time, you would have to consider Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Otto Graham- the list could go on and on. But Joe Montana of the Chiefs is the best quarterback of all time. Montana won four Super Bowls as a member of the San Francisco 49ers (three times he was Super Bowl MVP), and always played big in the big games.
c Who is your favorite running back in the NFL?
Chuck: Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions is an exciting player who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first 4 seasons. He can start·and stop on a dime. Barry is a solid Christian, a quality guy, and a terrific role model. I would con· sider him my number one running back.
Q: What ever became of the NBA Cincinnati Royals ?
Chuck: The Royals moved to Kansas City/Omaha for the 1972-73 season, splitting their home games between Kansas City and Omaha. They played as the Kansas CityI Omaha Kings until1975, when they dropped Omaha and became just the K.C. Kings. The Kings remained in K.C. until 1985, when they headed west, competing in the 1985-86 NBA campaign as the Sacramento Kings. Remember, though, that the Royals didn't start in Cincinnati. The franchise began in Rochester, New York, in 1948-49, and then moved to Cincinnati for the 1957-1958 season. e • What kind of player was Jack Sikma?
Chuck: Slkma broke into the NBA with Seattle In 1977. A key member of the Sonics' 1979 championship team, Jack could post up strong and still knock down the 15footer. He ended his career with Milwaukee in 1991.
• Could you tell me what happened to Chris Bando?
Chuck: The former major league catcher and brother of
SPORT S SPECTR U M· N O V E M BFR 1993
I CHUCK SWIRSKY, host of §IlQ11§. Spectrum radio, is sports director of WGN Radio in Chicago. Milwaukee Brewers general manager Sal Bando, Is cur· rently the manager of the Brewers' AAA team in New Orleans. Chris' major league career began in 1981 when he broke in to the majors with the Cleveland Indians. He played with the Tribe until 1988, when he played 32 games for the Indians and 1 game for the Tigers. The 1989 season was his last, as he closed out his career with the Oakland A's. Chris is a solid Christian. Look for him to continue to be a strong witness in the Milwaukee organization. GOT A QUESTION? Ask Chuck. If there's something about sports you want to know, send your question to The Swirsky Report, ~ Spectrum, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. SPORTS TALK RADIO Listen to ~ Spectrum radio with Chuck Swirsky each Saturday at noon Eastern time. Call l-800-6538333 to find out where you can hear the program.
S P OR-1 S SPEC TRUM • N OVE MB E R 1 993
EAOING TilE CHILDREN'S CLASSIC The Lillie Engine That Could might be the easiest
way 10 understand what A very Johnson has gone through to make it in the NBA. L ike the little blue engine fro m Watt y Piper's story, Johnson is an inspirati on. Like the little blue engine, Johnson is much smaller than his counterparts. Like the little blue engine, Johnson has had to persevere. And like the little blue engine, Johnson 's goal is to climb a mountain.
/ think I can - / think I can - / think I can - / think I can.* When you look at Avery Johnson, you see a sophisticated, articulate individual. A man who has things in focus. A man
Being only 5 '11 " and undrafted hasn't stopped Ave ry Johnson from climbing the mountain of NBA success with the highest degree of professionalism. What you don't see is the j ourney that brought him to this point. Avery Johnson wa s born and rai sed in New Orleans, the ninth child of a 10-kid fa mil y. His fath er Ji m worked as a carpenter and his mother Inez stayed home to take care of their large crew. Money was not something that tlowed freely around the Johnson home, yet love and support were plenti ful. " My moth er and f ather were examples, j ust prime time examples. M y mother taught me patience and kind~ A scending. Avery ness and understanding. My Johnson's NBA career father taught me how to be a really began to take off last ma n- a godl y man. He year as he distributed 561 me how to be a father taught assists to hi s teammates.
By Rob Bentz
-continued on page 18
SPOR T S SPt=CTAU M â€˘ N OVEM BER 1993
and how to provide for my family. And they both taught me how to work together in a marriage situation," says Johnson. "They were always there for Avery, they shows the steady were always there for each one of their improvement of Avery Johnson as an kids. And God was al ways first in our NBA player, it's the increase in his household." scoring average each year. It's a goal Th e impact that Jim and Inez have Avery has set for himself, and a goal had on their ninth chi ld is a strong one. that he's still working on. You can see the love on Johnson's face " I want my scoring average to go up as he talks about his father, who passed every year. Derek Harper has done it away in October of 1992. for 8 straight years, I want to do it for 10," explains Johnson. "I want to have " My father and I had a great relationAll-Star seasons. I want to do what I ship. Everything that a father-son relacan to lead my team to an NBA tionship should be," describes Johnson. Championship, and to do that I have to " My father was a hard-worki ng man. And improve my game every year." both of my parents al ways instilled things Whether Avery Johnson gets an in terms of hard work, confidence, and NBA Championship ring remains to be those types of values." seen, but his statistics show that his Those values helped keep Avery on game is definitely on the rise. D th e ri ght track as he wa ited fo r th e Year Team Games Min Asst PPG chance to prove himself on the basketball court. As a seni or in high school , 88·89... Seanle ...........43 ..... 291 ......73 ........1.8 Johnson stood only 5'3" and had a regu89·90 ... Seanle ........... 53 .....575 ......182......2.8 lar seat at the end of the bench. " I was so 90·91 ...Denver/SA..... 88 .....959 ......230 ......4.7 far down, the coach needed a bullhorn to 91·92 ...SA/Houston.... 89 .....1235 ....288 ......5.8 reach me," Johnson chuckles. " I rode the 92·93 ... San Antonlo .. ..75 .....2030 ....581 ...... 8.7 pine almost my entire senior year. But the guy who was playing in front of me got put off the team for some reason, and the coach inserted me in the lineup at the beginning of the playoffs. My game just took off and everything was clicking at the same time. We fini shed the year 35-0 and won the state championship."
; Still Climbing I
~ ~ I ' I '
! think I can - /think I can - ! think I can - ! think I can. It was in the championship game that one college scout spotted Johnson and was so impressed that he gave him an opportunity to play at New Mexico Junior College. Nobody else paid any attention to the little guard from St. Augustine High School. But one scout was all it took. Johnson's climb up the mountain was slowly beginning. He played at NMJC in Hobbs, New Mexico, for a year befo re mov ing on to Cam eron Uni versity in Lawton, Oklahom a, for the 1984-85 season. Johnson then packed his bags once again. Destin ati on: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Southern University. It was back in Louisiana where Avery Johnson began to establish himself as a pl ayer who should not be overlooked. Now 5'11 ", the junior point guard made an immedi ate impact in the South \ve stern Athleti c Conference. Johnson averaged 7.1 points per game for the Jaguars as a j unior and improved his scoring output to 11 .4 points per game as a senior. But scoring was secondary. Avery Johnson was a passer. A passer extraordinaire. A passer to make one of his boyhood heroes, fellow Cajun' Pete Maravich, proud. Johnson led not only the Southwestern Athletic Conference in assists-he led the nation. And if that 's not enough to impress, he did it twice. Johnson dished out an average of I 0.7 assists per game his j unior year, and an all-time NCAA Di vision I best of 13.3 assists per game his senior year. Add to that the South western Athleti c Conference 18
ANDREW BERNSTE!Nfm.A PHOTOS
Player of the Year Award both seasons, as well as the MYP award for the conference tournament both years, and you would th ink the NB A would be knocking down his door. Think again. Johnson went overlooked and undmhed. He had climbed that mountain for 5 years, but it looked like he might not reach the peak.
.A Putting it up. During
the 1992·93 season and the playoffs, playing against the likes of Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley, Johnson had more f ield goal attempts (580) than he had in his entire NCAA career (559) with Cameron and Southern University.
/ think I can - / think I can - / think I can -I think I can. Disappointed yet determined, Johnson resumed his quest for the NBA at the free agent camp of the Seattle Supersonics. He impressed the Sonics so much at the free agent camp that they gave him an oppot1unity to play for their summer league entry in Los Angeles. It was in L.A. that Johnson made his mark. The Sonics' summer league team consisted of such NBA veterans as Sedale Threatt, Olden Polynice, Russ Schoene, and Derrick McKey, but it was the little point guard from Southem University who led the team in scoring and assists. " I was pl aying agai nst guys li ke Byron Scott [Lakers] and Terry Porter [B lazers], guys th at I had been watching on TV," explains Johnson. " But I held my own. And that reall y gave Bern i e Bickersta f f [Sonics head coach] an idea that I could be a good player down the road." On August 2, 1988, the Supersonics signed Johnson to a free agent contract. The NBA career of Avery Johnson was in motion. The mountaintop was in sight. But his first 2 years in the league might best be described as slow motion, as he appeared in 96 games for the Sanies, averaging j ust 9 minutes, 2.2 points, and 2.4 assists per game. Not exactly All-Star numbers. But it was Johnson's time in Seatt le that proved to be the tuming point in both his professional and personal lives.
S P O R TS SP[;C TRUM • N O V E M BER 1993
Professionally, Johnson found himself near the end of the Sanies' bench behind point guards Nate McMillan, Sedale Threatt, and a veteran named John Lucas. The relationship that developed between Johnson and Lucas would later become extremely significant. Personally, Johnson made a decision that was more than significant- it changed the course of his life. " I really took a look at myself. I was at a church service in my hometown of New Orleans where the pastor preached about being fully committed. He talked about people who are just church-goers, people who aren't fu lly committed, that they're not reaching their fullest potential as Christians," said Johnson. " It really just hit me in my heart. I ju st got up and said, ' I want to change, I want to be a full -time Christian.' "
11/iink I can - 11/iink I cm1 -11/iink I cm1 - 11/iink I can. Before the start of the 1990-91 season in the Pacific Northwest, the Sanies deal t Johnson to the Denver Nuggets for a conditional draft choice in 1997. He played in 21 games for the Nuggets before they waived him on Christmas Eve, 1990. Enter th e San Antonio Spurs. They saw something th ey liked in th e Southern University product and signed him for the remainder of the '90-91 season. Johnson obliged, filling in for starting point guard Rod Strickland with an average of 9.4 points and 5.4 assists in 7 games as the Spurs starter. But Johnson's stay in San Antonio didn't last. Just 20 games into the '9 1-92 season the Spurs also showed Johnson the door, waiving him on December 17, 199 1. A Christm as break later, Johnson signed with the Houston Rockets on January 10 and spent the rest of the '91-92 campaign in Houston. He averaged a respectable 5.6 points and 3.7 assists per game in limited action and became a free agent at the end of the season. Then, just 6 games into the '92-93 season, a familiar face returned to th e San Antonio Spurs bench. Avery Johnson was back. He had signed a 1-year contract with his old team. Great things were expected of the Spurs and first-year head coach Jerry Tarkanian. But as they limped to a 911 record, one problem crept to the surface-no point guard. Tarkanian shouted loudly about his team's dire need for a point guard. Nothing was done until Spurs owner Red McCombs decided that the Spurs didn 't need another point guard, they needed another coach. Ex it Jerry Tarkanian , enter John Lucas. Form er teammate and fri end John Lucas. The 14-year NBA veteran agreed with Tark that the Spurs needed a point guard. But there was one small difference. Lucas knew that the point guard he needed was already on the roster. One of the first moves Lucas made was to inser1 Avery Johnson into the starting lineup. He didn't disappoint. With Johnson starting at the point, it was full steam ahead as the Spurs won 18 of their next 19 games. To say his contribution was crucial would be an understatement. He averaged 9.8 points, 8.6 assists, and 30. 1 minutes per game under Lucas. The Spurs finished the year with an impressive 49-33 regul ar season record. They surprised th e form er Western Conference Champion Portland Trail Blazers, knocking them off in 4 games, and took the powerful
Phoenix Suns to a sixth game before bowing out.
I J/iink I can - IJ/iink I can -11/iink I can - l lhink I cm1. It appears th at the former Soni c, Nugget, Spur, Rocket, and Spur has finally found an NBA home. But what made Avery Johnson hang on and continue to work through so many struggles? " When I se t goals in my life, they're not easy to attain. That 's why I set them high, so I can really push myself," Johnson ex plain s. " Wh en I use th e Stairn1aster, I program how many minutes I want to do it for, usually 30 minutes. Sometimes people punch in 30 minutes and never get that far. But when you punch in 30 minutes and you do it for 30 minutes, they bring up the amount of calories you've burned, and the number of stairs you've walked. But at the end, there's a sign that says, 'goal attained.' I love seeing that sign, because I set out to do it and I did it." That kind of perseverance is what has made A very Johnson, one of less than a dozen NBA players under 6 feet tall, a valuable player. But it 's also that kind of perseverance that sets him apart off the court as well. " Perseverance would definitely describe me, with faith in parentheses. Because I've had to persevere through a lot of different things on and off the court," states Johnson. "And I've had to walk by faith and not by sight in a lot of situations." The faith that he leaned on through the many tough times is also the faith that he strives to live for today. " Our role as Christians is just to serve God. That 's why we're here, to serve God and glorify Him and share His light with others," explains Johnson. " And there are three ways that I stay sharp. I stay on my knees in prayer. I love talking to God. Second, I stay in the Word. I try to read my Bible every day. And third, one of the most important things is staying in the right type of fellowship. I have brothers that I can just talk to and share with. That's reall y important to me." Beyond the spiritual support that Johnson receives from his friends, he gets still more support from his wife Cassandra. She's not only the mother of their 11month old daughter Christiane, but also a business partner, fitness partner, Bible partner, and friend. Wi th a wife who supports his spiritual growth , a group of friends that does the same, and an NBA career that 's on the ri se, you would think that he would be ready to say what th e littl e blue engine said as it crossed the mountain.
I Jhought I Could - I Though! I Could - I Though! I Could - I Thought I Could. But that;s not Avery Johnson. He wants more. He hasn't crossed the mountain yet. He's still climbing. " My life has been pretty much a mountain, and I'm going straight up the mountain. It hasn't been a roller coaster, it's just been a mountain," declares Johnson. " It's been a pretty hard climb at parts of the mountain, but it just keeps getting better and better, and I know it 's becau se God i s wa lking with me. And He's promised never to leave us or forsake us."
Making Mom Proud IIJidM
to see why Inez Johnson, mother of Avery, would be proud of her son. What might surprise you is the thing that she is most proud of. "My mother is proud of me for a lot of things in my life. She's proud of me for what I do on the basketball court," explains Johnson. " But she is most proud of me for my degree from Southern University. Just a little piece of paper that says,' Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Southern University, May of 1988.'"
I think I cm1 - I think I can - I 1hink I can - I think I can ...
* "I Think I Can" is a trademark of Piau & Munk Publishers, a di1â€˘ision of Grosse// & Dunlap, Inc.
S P O R TS SPEC TR U M â€˘ N O V t:= M B E R 1993
• Athktes Who ore Leading by Excunple
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• • Jason Hanson
The Confidant THE LION OFFENSE had Struggled all day, failing to put the ball in the end zone. The Patriots weren't much better, sending the game into overtime on a touchdown pass with just II seconds to play. After 4 quarters of action, the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots were knotted at 16. What transpired next is becoming a familiar sight to Lions fans. Head coach Wayne Fontes summoned his kicking team. Just 38 yards stood between the Lions and victory, and Fontes knew how to get there. His name is Jason Hanson. With II minutes already gone in the overtime period, the Lions wanted to end the battle then and there. And Hanson obliged. The dead-eye placekicker from Washington State drilled the 38yard game winner, and the Lions had a 19- 16 victory. Not really a surprise, considering that Hanson hadn't missed a field goal of less than 45 yards since joining the club as a second round draft choice in 199 1. Lions center Kevin Glover was quoted in the Detroit News after the game as saying, "when he goes out there to kick, we know it 's going in. If it 's 45 yards or in, it 's good. No doubt." That's not to say that Hanson can't kick the long one (he booted an NCAA record, 62-yard field goal in college), but it reveals the immense confidence that Hanson's teammates have in his abilities. " As a kicker, that helps me to know th at my teammates think I can get it done. I' m not worrying that, ' none of these guys think l can make it. ' " It's not just the Lions who have confidence in Hanson. So does Dave Wilson, chapel leader of the Lions. " Of all the guys I work with, he's the guy I can go 20
to with any ministry opportunity. He just wants to be used by God in whatever way he can. He's got a great heart. One of the best I've ever worked with." Whether Hanson is speaking at a Pro-Challenge assembly or to a group of young people from Detroit 's inner
ship with Christ, and it's much more dynamic than going to church. To sum it up as 'devoutly religious' just doesn't capture it. For someone looking at me from the outside, I hope they can see something more."
• Dana Millerci ty, making himself available to Mackie talk about his faith in Jesus Wet Moccasins Christ is what he deems imporon the Move tant. "That's what matters. Football PROFESSIONAL BOWLER DANA is so temporary. The money, the MILLER-MACKIEmakes tracks fame, all of that. Yet your relawherever she goes, but it's not tionship with Christ, that 's li fe. I because she's sloshing around in want people to know that's what her shoes. Being one-quarter li fe is about," says Hanson. " I Osage, Miller-Mackie has two want people to know that my life names: Dana and her Indian is centered around Jesus Christ." name " Wet Moccasins." As one Members of the media have of only four two-time winners of noticed something different the US Open, the top event in about the Lions' kicker- so women's bowling, "Wet Mocmuch so that they've tabbed him casins" has a history of making "a church goer" and " devoutly a move both on and off the lanes. religious." But Hanson says it's With her heritage, moving is in much more than that. her blood. "There are worse things to be Elected to the Indian Sports called than 'devoutly religious' Hall of Fame in 1982, Milleror 'church-going,' but sometimes Mackie takes pride in her Osage it misses the point. What I have • ancestry. The Osages, like many is a re lationship. It's a relation: other Indian groups in the 19th SPOR rS SPECT R UM • N O V E MBER i LJ93
century, were forced to move westward by the expansion of white settlements. Finally placed on a reservation in Oklahoma, they set another precedent for Dana to follow: Strikes! Not the kind involving bowling balls or pins, but something a bit more lucrative-oil. Granted the mineral rights to the area, the Osages, because of their wealth, are unique among Jndian groups. During the summer when she was in her early teens, Dana and her fami ly would leave their home in Albuquerque to visit relatives in Oklahoma. "My family would go there, and we'd dance in the pow-wows. They had beautifu l gatherings of all the different tribes. The warriors would dance and then the women. We'd dance around a circle. It was not real heavy; it 's a kind of shufne." True to her Indian heritage, Mi ller, at age 21, started making moves and strikes of her own. Despite growing up in a family of pro bowlers, she preferred team sports, especially basketball and field hockey. However, finding her professional opportuni ties limited, she switched to bowling. After competing on bowling's pro level and earning her first US Open title, she fou nd herself making still another move. This time to Australia. Having married Steve Mackie, a native Australian, Dana moved wi th him to his homeland. With no pro bowling leagues, rough lane conditions, and having to bowl against men, Dana wondered what God had in store for her. "It was like, wow, maybe thi s is the end of my career. Maybe this is what God has for me. I'm going over there and leaving my church, a strong church family, and strong friends and family." After a year of bowling in
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Australia, she earned a substantial bonus for winning a number of tournaments. The next year MillerMackie started commuting to the States to take par1 in pro tournaments. Her first time back, she won! It was her first US win in 6 years. Miller-Mackie realized that her time in Australia helped her game. "To compete over there with their lane conditions was what my physical game needed. I couldn't have known that. So the Lord had all that worked out. I gave it up to Him, and He gave it back even better." Dana and Steve now live in Fort Wor1h. Despite some difficult losses, including this year's US Open, where a first-place finish would have made her the only bowler ever to win the event three times, Dana continues to view life with a positive perspective. "Somebody once said our life is kind of like a crochet rug. On this side, it looks like it's full of knots. On the other side, when we get to heaven, we can see His plan." What 's the next move? Whatever it is, "Wet Moccasins" has peace, knowing that, as she says, "God always knows what's best for us." -Beverly Flynn
Under Construction INDIANAPOLISCOLTS nrnning back Anthony Johnson is the first to admit he's never been the overnight sensation type-the burstonto-the-scene impact player. "It's never come easy," says the fourth-year pro. " ! 've always had to work for all the respect I've ever gotten." It was that way for Johnson at Notre Dame, where he started slowly for the Fighting Irish before garnishing second-team AllAmerica honors his senior year. And it 's been no different in the NFL, where Johnson spent his rookie year primaril y on special teams or watching from the sidelines. But Johnson has quietly gone about his business during his first three seasons, diligently laying the foundation necessary for a successful career. And last season, he finally began to see some fruits of his labor. Johnson was the Colts' leading rusher in 1992. He set a franchise record for total yards from scrimmage when he piled up 240 yards (77 rushing and 163 receiving) in a game agai nst New England.
FOCUS ON SPORTS
"This could be the year I really make some strides," Johnson commented before tlrt: st:ason began. "I feel like I' m ready to explode, but I just need to have faith in the Lord and trust Him." One thing's for sure, while Johnson has been slowly building his football career, God has "drafted" Johnson to do His work, a calling Johnson relishes. Johnson speaks at least twice a month in the off-season to various groups about the importance of letting God have control of every area of life. "Although [public speaking] does not come easily for me, I believe God gave me this platform as a pro athlete," Johnson explains. "And whether Charles Barkley believes it or not, we are role models, and I feel I can speak on God's behalf." Johnson also helps out at the Crisis Pregnancy Center where his wife Shelly is a counselor. Johnson recently established the Johnson Family Foundation, which will provide food and clothing to help needy families.
S P ORTS SPECTn U M • N O V EMBL R 1 993
And while the Colts' runner stresses that good study habits and physical activity can help the mind and the body, he says that only the Lord can make the spirit right. "I' ve known Christ most of my life," says Johnson. "And even when I've done my share of rebelling, He's always picked me up and shown me His faithfulness. It 's fun to stand up in front of kids and tell them what I believe." "Indianapolis is a very needy area," says Johnson. "It 's sad that in a city wit h two pro teams [also the NBA 's Pacers] there isn't more done." But Anthony Johnson is one man who is willing to help with the construction. Ironically, his fam ily life has also been in a building process of sor1s. Already "under construction" with two children, 4-year-olcl Taylor and 2-'/2-year-old daughter Kylie, the Johnsons are awaiting their third addition this fall. Many areas of Anthony Johnson's life are in the building process-on a solid foundation that has been properly laid. r:::::JI -Mark Syswerda 21
What's it like to rub shoulders with the guys on the best teaTn in pro hoops? Scott Bradley knows, and as he reveals in this report, he isn't doing it just for fun • By Scott Bradley
S PORTS SPECTR U M • NOV E MB E R 1993
JUNE 12, 199 1, in the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. John Paxson had just hit something like five jump shots in a row, changing the momentum of the championship game between the LA Lakers and the Chicago Bulls. For the previous 8 years, 1 had been with the Bulls. Not as a player or a coach, but as a chaplain. There had been rough times and lean times-especially during the pre-Michael Jordan era. During those years the Bulls had sometimes played in practically empty arenas, being booed unmercifully by their own home crowd. There had been dissension among teammates and the boys out on West Madison had gotten nailed by the media. But now it looked as if the Bulls were on the verge of winning their first NBA championT WAS
ship. And whether things were good for the Bulls or bad, they always seemed to appreciate having someone to help them understand the spiritual side of life. Horace Grant, the Bulls' starting power forward and a player who had begun to show a real interest in spiritual things during the prev ious season, had promised at the beginning of the year that if the team won it all, the players were going to have a team prayer before the celebrat ion. And he wanted me to lead it. Even that night before the game-as we met together in our team chapel meet ing-Grant , Craig Hodges, and Scott Williams reiterated that promise. Now, as the game was winding down, my attention was less on the game than it was on what would soon take place before a national television audience in the lockerroom. That preseason request by Horace was about to put me in a new and unusual situ ati on. I began to rehearse prayers in my mind. "How should I pray?" "Should I be dramatic or calm?" "Will they still let me do it?" With about 3 minutes left in the game, I heacled toward the lockerroom. Once there, I watched on TV as the game ended and Scottie Pippen, with the ball in one hand and his index finger of the other hand pointing in the air, ran around in jubilance as he and his teammates celebrated. It had happened! The Bulls had won it all ! The players were ecstatic, but my stomach was in knots. One by one the players came in , shouting and hugging and beaming with the joy of victory. True to their words, Horace and Craig began to round the players up. As we huddled, Horace looked at me and nodded. I was ready to pray when Coach Phil Jackson glanced my way and said, "Reverend, let's do The Lord's Prayer." It was a wise decision, because that way everyone could join in. Before 87 million people all over the world, the NBA champion Chicago Bulls recited The Lord's Prayer. That time brings back pleasant memories as the Bulls prepare to enter the 1993-94 season. Of course, since then Michael and Company have won two more championships. It has become a tradition now to recite The Lord's Prayer after each championship as the best team in the world acknowledges the creater of that world. These memories have been es pec iall y reward ing because I remember when things were not so good. I first became involved with the Bulls at the beginning of the 1982-83 season after meeting Henry Soles, the team's senior chaplain. As a former semi-pro bas-
ketba ll player in the Chicago area, a big sports fan , and a person interested in seeing spiritual growth, I was glad to be ab le to help- and glad to know that there was a spiritual int erest among the players. We exchanged phone numbers and stayed in touch. , At the beginning of the nex t bas ketball season, Soles and I talked agai n. He ment ioned that the Bulls were in town for th eir home opener, but that he would be gone. Then he suggested that if I was go in g to the game, I should meet the team chapel leader. Each team has a player who is responsible fo r te lling his tea mmates where and when chapel is to be held. For the Bulls this was David Greenwood. Upon arriving at Chicago Stadium about 6:00 p.m. that Saturday night for the game against the New Jersey Nets, I had no intention of speaking at the Bulls' chapel. My only thought was to let the players know I was there to help in whatever capacity Soles might use me. But that's not exactly what happened. To insure access to the players, I bought a courtside seat. A few players were up on the court warm ing up, so I maneuvered my way toward the locker room tunnel in order to talk to anyone who came up for the shootaround. When David Greenwood finally ca me out of the tun ne l, I nervously introdu ced myself. Greenwood then asked me an unexpected question. "Would you like to do the chapel tonight?" he asked. "Yeah, sure," I said, speaking before taking time to think. "Fine," he said. "Follow me do wnstai rs." I was
S P O RTS SPI?C T11LJ M â€˘ N O VL M OER 1 993
.A. Looking for answers.
As Scott Wil liams and B.J. Armstrong would attest, winning three world championships does not solve all problems. That's w hy Scott Bradley is there when the players need him to help them find answers to tough situations that are common to everyone.
WI T H
amazed, shocked, scared, and surprised, all rolled into one. In a few minutes I was going to be talking to several NBA stars. What could be said to them that might touch their hearts? I began to pray quietly, asking the Lord to give me something to say that would give them the spiritual help they would need. About 5 minutes later, a crowd of NBA giants came heading toward the small room designated as the chapel for the night. Would all those huge guys even fit in there? Buck Williams, Mike Gminski, Mike O'Koren, and Albert Williams, dressed in their blue road uniforms from New Jersey, filed in . Then came the Bull s: Orlando Woolridge, Reggie Theus, Sidney Green,
.A. Three-peat and
Three-prayer. It's a tradition now that the Bulls gather in prayer after capturing NBA title.s, as they did after taking game six from the Suns in Phoenix last .June.
Wallace Bryant, Rod Higgins, and David Greenwood, dressed in their home white uniforms. It was a humbling thought to realize that these guys, known all across the country, were there to hear me talk to them about God. I didn't have a Bible with me that night, so I would have to rely on my memory for a Scripture verse. Standing before them, however, I could feel the boldness of the Hol y Spirit come alive in me. I quoted Matthew 6:33. "Seek ye fi rst the kingdom of God and His righteousness .... " I gave them a brief, 10-minute message about priorities and what is really important in life, then led them in prayer. This was my baptism into the NBA. Being around professional athletes can be intimidating. I certainly found that out during that first meeting on opening night. And I discovered it when I first spoke at a chapel attended by Julius Erving. The experience was frightening because as a teenager I had admired him from afar, sitting in the stands in amazement as he would defy all laws of gravity with his twisting, turning, fl ying, slam dunks and magnificent moves. Now
BU L LS
here he was sitting right before me, listening to what I had to say about the Bible and how its teachings could help him. But Dr. J had a way of making anyone feel comfortable, and as I talked he would consistently nod his head in agreement. The Bulls' chapels are usually held an hour before game time and they last about 20 minutes. It is totally voluntary, and it is generally a meeting attended by players from both teams. The service stat1S with prayer, and we usually ask a member of the visiting team to pray. After prayer, either Soles or I will deliver a 15- to 20minute message, trying to help the players see the importance of trusting Jesus and living by the principles of God's Word. We also give the players an opportun ity to share a testimony or a comment. This is exciting, because sometimes their testimonies will inspire others-especially if there are visitors. On one occasion, for example, a local television station wanted to do a feature on the chapel. The reporters brought their TV equipment into the room and shot the session. Afterward the young woman who was operat ing the camera said, "I was so inspired by that chapel, I had to fight to hold back tears. I had no idea that anything like this even goes on," she cont in ued. "They looked so intent as they listened. It was just beautiful." I know how she felt , because I've particularly been blessed to hear the testimonies of others. Such NBA greats as Julius Erving, Kent Benson, A. C. Green, and David Robinson have really inspired me. On a """M "" few occasions the inspiration and testimonies were so j ubilant that it appeared a revival meeting was going to break out at any minute. After the testimonies by the players, we close in prayer. The players then shake hands and go back to their res pective lockerrooms to get ready for that night's contest. The chapel also provides moments of privacy when the players can open up about their problems. Many of the players have sought help for difficulties in their home life, problems in team meetings, and even tough times in contract negotiations. We always pray about these matters. It's been exciting to see these athletes, who are esteemed so highly, responding so humbly and graciously to the Bible and its gospel message. Through the years I have learned to appreciate the in tensity on their faces as they listen attenti vely. B. J. Armstrong, for instance, has the most concentrated look I have ever seen when it comes to chapel. He seems to never bat an eye. One of the problems that happens over and over is
SPO n TS SPEC TRUM â€˘ N O V E MBER 1 993
L I FE
W I TH
th at we can befri end a player and see him begin to Pax and he shot too much. Actually, that's the way B.J. understand the importance of spiritual things in his life, ran th e second team of fense when he came off the onl y to watch helplessly as he is suddenl y traded to bench. So when he was inse11ed into the starting role, he another team. This has happened on several occasion . merely ran it like he always ran things the previous seaOne player it happened to was Steve Colter. Steve son. But he was al ways faithful in chapel and never played wi th the Bulls at the beginning of the 1986-87 once expressed any bi tterness or animosity toward anyseason. A quiet and likable person, he had come over one-either in those private chapel moments or to the from Portland in an off-season trade. He had been raised public press. It wasn't long before he won the confiin Phoenix, and I had the privilege of meeting his famidence of the starters and remained in the starting role ly. Steve would even come to church most of the season. The Bulls' players are fun-loving with me. Unfortunately he had trouble adjusting in Chicago, and before I practical jokers, and it appears that season's end he was traded to Stacey King is the recipient of most of ~ERE ARE A BUNCH of Philadelphia. The press blasted him. the jokes. But Stacey holds his own, ~ guys who are all makÂˇ espec iall y when he does his deadBut Steve came back to haunt the ing more money than even a docringer impression of Bill Cartwright. Bulls the next time they played the tor would dream of. They have Si xers, single-handeclly taking them Scotti e Pippen always has a funny championship rings, cars that word as well. John Paxson and Will apart with accurate shooting and pinalways work, beautiful families, point passing. After the game he told Perdue are usually pretty quiet. and homes that most of us only me, " I had to prove a poin t !" He This past season, the Bulls missed read about. They make their livdidn 't have to prove anything to me. the presence of Cliff Levingston. He ing at a game that is exhilarating was nicknamed "Goodnews" because I hated to see Steve go. to play and exciting to watch . And they play it better than anyone Fans often fail to recogni ze that of his jubilant, outgoing personality. else in the world. although these young men appear Cliff was a real cheerleader, and his So what in the world do they superhuman on the court , they are enthusiastic presence was always felt need something like chapel for? just as human as anyone in real life. both on and off the court. Why do they take time out before The problems that they experi ence But the Bulls will never miss a playa game to pray, listen to somecan be understo od by all of us, er like they' ll miss Michael Jordan , one preach, and hear the Bible because we all face them. Many of whose surpri se ret irement still has being read? the players have been celebri ti es Chicago bu zzing. He was always the Something Jesus Christ said since high school, and they find it Bulls' leader, yet he seemed humbled may help explain it. "What good hard to relate to the real world of by his success. Much of the credit for will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his problems. Some of them have even thi s goes to his parents. James Jordan soul?" He asked His followers in confided in me that people appreciwas, as Michael said after his death, his Matthew 16:26. ate them so much for tllt:ir talents best friend. We'll not only miss having Jesus said this long before basthat they hardly appreciate the fact Michael on th e court, but we'll also ketball was invented and agents that they are mere human beings. miss seeing his proud dad at courtside. began dreaming up long-term conThis is where a program like the Horace Grant has been a leader as tracts worth millions of dollars. He chaplaincy can help them. One year well, and a workhorse on the cou11. He said it because of the truth behind a player had fallen victim to the polhas been a very positive influence on it-that no matter what a person itics of the team and was benched many, and over the summer takes plenhas or accumulates, it is worthless ty of time to share with children his for no apparent reason. This isn' t in an eternal sense. Most people-even basketball unusual when a team is doing poortime and testimony during speaking players-understand that. And l y, but in thi s case the team wa s engagements and basketball clinics. because they know that there is The Chicago Bull s are the threedoing well. I remember his attitude something greater to consider in life time NBA champions, and it's been a as he testi fied in chapel and said, " If than just their scoring average, NBA Job had to suffer trials and tribulathrill to be along for th e ride. Even players attend chapel in impressive ti on, so must 1." though my position is not on the cour1 numbers. They are seeking what The Bulls are like a family. And or in th e inner circle of the Bull s' we all need- peace with God and Âˇ every family has its ups and clowns. braintrust, I feel that my role as a chapassurance of forgiveness. B.J. Armstrong, nicknamed " kid" by lain is significant. Sure, I don't " play" What's the use of chapel? Turn for the Bulls. But I do " pray" for them. his teammates because of his boyish the question around. After reading what Jesus said, what's the use of l ook s, al ways asks prayer for his And when you think abou t it , th at anything without the eternal life that might be the most important role for family. He i s a great example for chapel speakers talk about? youn gsters and i s we ll-liked by someone to have for this or any other everybody in the organization. team in sports. For a free booklet that talks about Yet when the 1992-93 season the kinds of questions everyone started, he got a lot of fl ack from asks, whether an NBA star or a Besides his ll'ork ll'ith the Bulls, Sco/1 some of the starting players when he Maytag repairman, write for Why Bradley has wrillen a book. The Black stepped into the starting rol e over In the World Am I Here? Write to Man: Cursed or Blessed? takes a look John Paxson, who had back surgery Sports Spectrum, Box 3566, at the black e.1perience from a biblical in the off-season. Their gripe was Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566. perspectil'e. that he ran the offense faster than
What's the use'
SPORTS SPECTR UM â€˘ N OVEM BLR 1993
_.. One of many. Sensing the need to assist in the inner training of its players, the NBA allows all teams to have team chaplains who do what Scott Bradley does. In fact, there is even a chapel service that is held in conjunction with the owners' meetings each September.
Taking cues from t he mas t er teacher, Wally Armstrong has made a name for himself among golfers By Sam Woolwine
WO YEA RS AGO, if you had asked the average golfer who Wally Arm strong was, chances are the answer might have been: "Oh, he's the astronaut who was the first person to walk on the moon." There are some who might believe that Wally Armstrong's. teaching methods could have come from outer space, but he's not to be confused with Neil. ..,_ Everything but the This Armstrong was a former PGA kitchen sink. Using Tour player who labored in obscurity common objects and for more than a decade, never winning unorthodox methods, a tournament , but generall y cashing enough checks to keep his carcl. In his Wally Armst rong has career he had several top ten finishes, developed something but people generally remember only the all duffers wantwinners. Perhaps his best performance a way to improve as a tourin g pro came in th e 1978 their game. Masters when he tied for fifth , setting a
SPORTS SPI:OCTA UM- NOV I:O M BEA 1993
scoring record for first-year players in th at event and fini shing j ust " Research shows th at 85 percent of learning is visual. Our mind three shots behind the champion, Gary Player. directs our muscles. There is no muscle memory-there is mind memory, so you have to feed the right motor images to the mind. If the mind Although not well-known by the masses, he was a hero to many is given the right pictures, the muscles will follow. Give people somewho played in the pro-ar11S preceding PGA Tour events throughout the country. While Armstrong's game wasn't quite good enough to beat thing visual that they can relate to, and they learn better. " When I first started writing [for a central Florida magazine], I had the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Lanny Wadkins in the this wonderful secretary who was a pastor's wife and who didn't play 1970s and into the '80s, his communicati on skill s and vibrant personality had a positive effect on his playing partners in the pro-ams. golf. She was a great filter for me. She made me stand there and explain my golf tips until she understood. It was a great experience in "The other guys on the tour used to kid me about being able to win how powerful words are and in the importance of using simplici ty." the pro-arllS, but not the tournaments," Armstrong says now about th ose days. " I was very successfu l at winning pro-ams because I Armstrong also borrows teaching methods from a Man he calls the enjoyed trying to help my amateur partners get better at their games. greatest teacher ever. " I think Jesus Christ was the Master Teacher. And He taught in ways people could understand, using parables and illustraThey could relax with me." ti ons to simpli fy what He was say ing. I reall y Whi le Armstrong had pretty much vanished from the public scene since leaving believe the Lord gave me this gift. It's the way He taught, using everyday experiences. the Tour in the mid-80's, the University of " You know, a lot of teachers try to communiFlorida graduate began working on enhanccate by rules. You read the top books in America, ing his teaching skills after his departure. and the pros assume people know certain words. " When I was a student at Florida, I To me, many of them teach the way the Pharisees wrote numerous papers on the golf swing. I was fortun ate to study under form er did, using stringent rules and regulations, the do's and don' ts. I try to paint pictures, pictures of Florida coach Conrad Rehling, who was a things people can identify with. I want to reach the great teacher. I learned a lot from him," Armstrong explains. masses. I' m more of a common-people teacher. You can call me a Tee-evangelist, teaching "golfaTaking principles he had learned from bles" (golf parables). the two Rs-Rehling and readings-and correlating them with theories on visual" I have a passion to com munica te th e gol f swing to people out there, li ke an evangelist in ization, Armstrong began producing tapes. th eol ogy. I want to reach the athei sts and the The key to those tapes became imagery. agnostics, the people who have given up on golf Two years ago, the name Armstrong becau se th ey haven't improved, and they don ' t might have conjured up thoughts of space believe they can improve." travel and the moon. Today, it conj ures up Armstrong, in addition to producing numerous images of hula hoops and coat hangers, tapes, takes his act on the road approximately 40 folding construction rulers and bright balloons, footballs and tennis rackets. times a year. He has been featured at several cAAAOI.LMOAGAN Fellowship of Christian Athl etes camps over the Wally Armstrong is the guru of gadgets, years, and he has clone charity work for Campus the master of mental manipul ati on, the _.. It's all in your head. Part of the genius of wizard of wacko golf ideology. He is an the Wally Armstrong method of teaching Crusade for Christ and World Blindness Outreach in Hershey, Pennsylvani a, an organi zation that advocate of the KI SS theory: " Keep It golf has to do with his emphasis on getting sends doctors overseas to perform eye surgery. Simple, Stupid," and he's a proponent of a mental picture of what you want to do. He remains close to FCA because through that using what might seem fri volous to golf ministry he became a Christian while he was at purists to improve the game of the masses. the University of Florida. Today, to most amateur golfers, Wally Armstrong has become a household name. He has had more TV time over the past 2 years than " I was given a very clear presentation of the â€˘ Wsl/y Armstrong Nicklaus, Watson, and Wadkins put together. gospel in FCA. I began to see that it wasn' t tslks about not Chances are you've seen the wacky world of Wally Armstrong on a what I had to do to become a Christi an, but depending on whst he cable infomercial co-starring country music star Kenny Rogers and rather what Christ did." did but Instead sports commentator Pat Summerall. It 's been playing for 2 years, Little did he realize that a couple of decades depending on what later he would be a teacher, helping people see introducing a series of tapes called Maximizing Your Golf Game. Jesus Christ had done So where does the hula hoop fit in? Most people know what a hula more clearly how to play the game of golf by In order to obtain salhoop is. But most people don 't know what it has to do with golf- until emulating the methods of teaching that Christ vation. If you want to they watch Armstrong use it to teach the symmetry of the swing. used 2,000 years ago. From sitting under a know more about that great teacher, to playing, to becoming a great The coat hanger reminds students to keep their wri sts fi rm whi le idea, write for the free chipping. The folding ruler is used to accentuate the right shoulder teacher, Wally Armstrong's life has come full booklet Religion or working downward rather than outward. The balloon illustrates how circle-which seems appropriate for a guy who Christ- What's the teaches with a hula hoop. to maintain the tri angle of the arms and shoulders. The footba ll ? Difference? Send your Picture a quarterback taking a snap from center, and you have correct request to Sports posture. The tennis racquet demonstrates the connection between Sam Woolwine is the sports editor of the Spectrum, Box 3566, Challanooga News-Free Press in Challanooga. Grand Rapids, Ml swings in other sports. Armstrong takes the famil iar and applies it to gol f principles. Tennessee. 49501-3566.
SPORTS SPEC"r RUM- N OVE M BER 1 993
Backed by a wicked serve, a fierce co~npetitiveness, and a supportive husband, college volleyball star Joy Russell tries to go national
By Richard Koe
HE SCORE WAS
14- 10 in th e rubber match of a roller-coaster, five-game showdown for the NCAA Division II national volleyball championship las t Dece mber betwee n th e topranked Portland State Vikings and the mimber-two rated Northern Michigan Wildcats. With the much bi gger WiIdeals th reateni ng to come back from the brink of elimination, 5' 9" outside hitter/setter Joy Russell made a final kill. It bounced off a Northern Michigan defender's hands and out of bounds. The Portland State crowd roared their approval and poured onto the court. The Vikings had captured the national ti tle. " I prepared myself to go up against a big wa ll ," Joy said of the tall Wildcat lineup. "We looked at
S I~O RTS
their 6-foot-plus front line and wondered how we could block th em." They couldn ' t. But instead they came up with an all-out defensive scheme that in clud ed skidding on their stomachs to save balls and stop th e rain of s pikes fr om Northern Michigan. Such defensive intensity is not new for Russell, who had 24 kills and 18 digs in that final game. One sportswriter observed, "Joy """â€˘â€˘VlOSI<o Russell scrambles for everything in every volleyball match, including diving to the tloor for an errant ball, or, if necessary, setting the ball from her knees." Those aren't the onl y weapons the two-time, first team All -American has at her disposal. There's the ex plosive spike that can't be stopped in the one-SOOth of a second it takes to arrive. And there's the deadly
S I"EC I RUM- N OV'-'.MBER 199:l
jump-serve that once earned her nine aces in a single match. Opponents especially dread the jump-serve, which Russell has nearl y perfected, finding it almost impossible to return. "It 's a fast, straight-ahead serve with a top spin that drops quickly," she explains. Russell 's all-around game makes her valuable at two positions- outside hitter and setter. She hit .299 last year for Portland State while taking second in kills with 509; assists wi th 482; and digs with 39 1. The previous year she led her team in aces with 64 and was second in assists with an astounding 722. And as was plain for all to see at the 1992 finals, in crunch time she steps up the intensity a couple of notches. Such superior athlet icism and such remark able accomplishments have reaped numerous honors for the 21-year-old senior. To list a few, Joy was chosen NCAA Division II Pl ayer of the Year in 1992 by Volleyball Monthly; was named MYP in the 1991 NCAA Regional Championship match; was chosen first team All-American for 1991 and 1992; was AllNorthwest Region for 2 straight years; and was named All-Tournament eight times in 2 years, including the 1990 and 199 1 Elite Eight National Championships. Russell 's volleyball honors also date back to her high school days when she was the first athlete to play on four state champion volleyball teams in Oregon as well as being named four times All-League and four times All-State from 1986 to 1989. During her first year in high school athletics, she participated in track, softball, and basketball, as well as volleyball. But probably Russell 's greatest honor so far was her selection to the U.S. Volleyball program last summer, a goal that few NCAA II players attain. She became both a member and a team captain of the US "B" team, which played six matches against the German national team in Germany. Her stellar play led to an invitation to try out for third setter on the U.S. national team. Tryouts for the U.S. national team meant the possibility of missing the opening fall tournaments, but she couldn 't pass up this opp011tmity of a lifetime. " It was a really hard decision," Joy explains. "I told my coach and teammates at Portland State, who are shooting for a repeat NCAA title, that I didn't want to miss this chance and be ' I woulda, I shoulda, I could a."' Joy's husband Dan, an alternate for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team, understands her aspirations to be part of the U.S. national volleyball team, and he supported her <4 Joyous again. In an difficult decision . Dan early season rematch accompanied Joy to San of last year's national Diego for the tryouts before finals, Russell and her he headed fo r Colorado Portland State tea mSpri ngs, where he trai ned for mates traveled to the 1993 World Cup held in Marquette to take on Finland during October. Northern Michigan. Dan has not onl y been As in 1992, Portland Joy's main supporter, but State came away with has also served as unofficial the victory. cheerleader at Portland State STATE UtiVERSITYF
S POR T S SPECTR UM路 N OVEM BE R 1993
volleyball matches, with a little help from members of th e wrestling team at Portland State. Dan serves on the university's coaching staff and helps conduct wrestlin g camps during the year. Joy first met Dan in the trainin g room at the Port land State gym in 1990 as she was being taped before volleyball practi ce . During their " introduction s," th ey found out they att ended the same church- a large, growin g, suburban conDON PAVLOSKI gregation east of Portland. .&. Reasons to cheer. The Portland State Joy was alread y datin g, University volleyball team has picked but Dan was wi lling to up four national championships- 1984, 1985, 1988, and last year's title behind wait for God 's timing. It the leadership of Joy Russell. cam e in a matter of month s when th e two attended a Wizard of Oz production and had dinner at a fan cy restaurant atop a 48-story Portland bank tower. As time passed, both became convinced that God had brought them together, and they were married October 7, 199 1. This just happened to be the night before an important volleyball match. Joy Lammert shocked both her coach and teammates with the news, but they gave their blessings and hoped for the best. The following clay, Portland State had a new name in the lineup: Joy Russell. Joy and Dan come from strong family backgrounds, and they each accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at an early age. However, both sets of parents were later divorced. These unhappy experiences have served only to strengthen the young couple's resolve to have a strong marriage and Christian testimony as they seek to serve God. " We've learned to lean on God because He alone is the only One you can trust," Mrs. Russell says. She finds assurance in an appropriate Bible verse from Nehemiah 8:1 0, " ... thejoy of the Lord is your strength." Her husband is challenged by Jeremiah 15: 16: " When Your words came, I ate them; they were my j oy and my heart 's delight." The words of the Bible are on his regular study diet as a student at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. Together, Joy and Dan serve on another team, leading junior and senior high youth groups in their church. " We feel God 's call to serve, and that remains our number one priority over any athletic endeavor, including the Olympics," Joy emphasizes. But even when they do compete, they find a purpose that transcends wins and losses. "God has given all of us talent," Joy explains, " and we should use it to the best of our ability with the purpose that is above and beyond the day-to-day achievements." Any future careers are on hold for both Russells. But later they want to be involved in a Christian sports ministry, holding sports camps, and fami ly retreats. Joy, an Art s and Letters major at Portland State, may also look into some kind of outreach using music. Meanwhile, it 's back to the volleyball court, either for another NCAA II championship year at Port land State, a stint with the U.S. national team, or both. One thing is sure: For this volleyball star, a life of serving-whether on or off the court- is sheer j oy.
NO YOU THOUGHT Maury Pavich and Connie Chung had a
~tough time getting their schedules together. Take a look at this. While wife Joy Russell tried out for the US Volleyball National Team in San Diego during August, husband Dan was off to Colorado Springs to train for the 1993 World Cup wrestling matches which were held in Heinola, Finland, during October. While husband Dan was holding wrestling camps last summer in Portland, Oregon, wife Joy was playing for the US Volleyball "B" Team in Germany. It's a frenzied lifestyle, but when they have to be apart they're pulling and praying for each other all the time. Dan, former national champion Greco-Roman wrestler at Portland State University and alternate for the 1992 US Olympic wrestling team, has been pinning opponents in Europe and across the United States for years. In the 1992 World Cup held in France, he placed second in his medium-weight (74 kilos or 149.5 to 163 pounds) class, losing only in the finals to a wrestler from Cuba. Now Dan has his sights on the 1996 Olympics. Only one wrestler in each weight class goes to Atlanta, and Dan, who was ranked third in the nation in 1992, hopes he can become number one in 1996 and go for the gold. Dan's also busy endorsing Nike wrestling wear, from shoes to jerseys, a contract he's had with the sportswear giant the past 3 years. At NIKE TOWN in downtown Portland, Dan has his own personal display, complete with his awards, shoes, and jerseys worn in past wrestling tournaments. Both faith in Jesus Christ and wrestling came early for Dan, who has photos showing him in a wrestling singlet and 4 In it toget:,:Âˇ~~~~;;~;;:;' headgear at 18 months old. "I athletic endeavors sometimes became a Christian at a camp take them to separate locales, meeting in Idaho when I was 5 the Russells are unified in their years old and solidified my main purpose. faith in Christ as a high school sophomore." Dan finds many opportunities to share his Christian faith with other wrestlers across the world. "I got into a conversation with a heavyweight Jewish wrestler at the 1992 World Cup in France," he relates. "We talked about differences between religions, and I explained what it meant to have a vital, living relationship with Jesus Christ." Naturally, Dan likes the Bible verse, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephesians 6:12). "That's what it's all about," says a guy who knows about wrestling. Now, if only Dan and Joy could find a place that hosts both world-class wrestling matches and world-class volleyball games at the same time. Someplace like Atlanta, perhaps? - Richard Koe
For more information about what Dan Russell was talking about when he discussed Jesus Christ with the Jewish wrestler, write for the free booklet Who Is This Man Who Says He's God? The address is Sports Spectrum, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566.
Richard Koe is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. 30
S POR T S S P ECTRUM â€˘ N OVE M BER 1993
The Yea.. o• Llvlaag Daaage..o'Ualy How can we prepare for the inevitable? • By Rob Bentz are familiar: Reggie Lewis, Drazen Petrovic, Steve Olin, Tim Crews, Don Dtysdale, Roy Campanella, Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison. Maybe you marveled at their athletic ability. Maybe one of them was your hero. And maybe, no, undoubtedly, each of them thought he had another day of life. More than in any other year in recent memory, death has touched the sp011s world by taking athletes who we thought had many years ahead of them. We lose athletes every year, but never as many prominent ones- two NBA stars, two NASCAR favorites, two members of one baseball team, and two popular Hall-of-Famers. All this proves nothing about spm1s, hut it instructs us clearly about life. We are mot1alsregardless of our fame or lack of it- and not a moment of life is guaranteed to anyone. I'm sure Boston Celtics captain Reggie Lewis had no idea that he would never walk out of the gym at Brandeis University. I'm sure Steve Olin and Tim Crews both planned on practicing with the rest of the Cleveland Indians on March 23. I'm sure Davey Allison wouldn 't have been anywhere near Talladega in a helicopter had he known the end result. · None of these athletes wanted to die. They all displayed a real zest for living. Yet the real truth is that all are gone, regardless of their athletic success, their future plans, or their view of death. All had jobs that require incredible body control and precision. Hour upon tireless hour these athletes spent practicing and perfecting their trade, yet all of the physical preparation in the world does not put one beyond the reach of l-IE NAMES
tragedy. It can strike the top athlete in the world just as easily as it can strike you and me. Nothing can bring them back. Not the spotlight. Not the zeroes that fattened their contracts. Not the adoring fans. As fans, we look at athletes as if they're on another level,
have numbed their sense of reality or the self-confidence requ ired to play at such a high level, many athletes have developed a swagger that seems to carry beyond the playing field and into their daily lives. The "it can't happen to me" syndrome seems to have a stronghold in today's society,
almost superhuman. Many are, after all, superstars. We may even begin to think that death and tragedy dare not touch a pro athlete. Many of them seem to agree. There's a dangerous attitude developing in spo11s today, one of indestructi bility. Whether it 's the multi-million dollar contracts that
especially in sports. Many athletes seem to be afraid to acknowledge that they are mere mortals and that an end will come, first to a career and then to a life. This disturbing question remains: Are these athletes prepared for the end? Most of us have been touched in some way by the passing of a loved one or a close friend. Yet when it's an unex pected death, it 's that much harder. Reggie
S POn T S SPECTI"lUM - NOVE MB E R 1 H93
Lewis, 27; Steve Olin, 27; Drazen Petrovic, 28; young men with a lifetime of memories yet to make. Instead, all that's left are memories. Like it or not, we all face death. Youth notwithstanding, it is inevitable. We can be in the best physical condition or vast ly out of shape, it makes no difference. Death can come tomorrow, next year, or in 50 years, but one thing is certain, it will come. In Ecclesiastes 7:2, the Bible tells us, " ... for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." When Reggie Lewis died, he left behind his wife Donna, a son Reggie Jr., and another child on the way, yet he was, in the greatest possible way, prepared. He knew what the Bible says in Romans I0:9: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." According to those who knew Reggie, including Celtic chaplain Bill Alexson, he had put his faith in Jesus Christ. The vaunted Boston Garden is a great place, and it was the basketball home of Reggie Lewis. But it cannot compare in the least to Reggie's eternal home in heaven with his Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know where you're going to spend eternity? The Bible says you can know: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (I John 5: 13). lt 's an assurance we all need. Reggie Lewis was 27 at the time of his death. Not exactly an age one ex pects to die. But Reggie Lewis had made a heartfelt acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Savior. He knew that when his life ended he had eternal life. Reggie Lewis was prepared for eternity. Are you? 3 1
Cousin Ju9ttn~ Mom~
Datt~ SPORIS SPEC/RUM
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