Monday, May 24, 2010

We Are All Witnesses

LeBron James appeared as “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated February 18, 2002. He was 17 years old. From the start, biblical language and imagery has been used to describe “King James.” Nike only capitalized on this with its “We are witnesses” advertising campaign. Like it or not, we are. We have been.

LeBron was not the first to make the leap from high school hoops to “The Association,” yet the hype around him was unprecedented. As a high school teacher and coach, occasionally I have a student or two who during their junior year already looks like a D-1 athlete. This student-athlete however is exceptional (as LeBron was! A burning question I hold is: Just how good was he as a high school football wide receiver?! Can I get a witness?). Regardless, Division-1 collegiate athletics is a far cry professional sports. I can’t imagine being his teacher and reading “High school junior LeBron James would be an NBA lottery pick right now” on the most popular weekly sporting magazine, only to grade his papers an hour later. Since the fateful day LeBron was chosen as the number one draft choice, we all have served as witnesses to his promise and potential. I would like to think we rejoice in such God-given talent and abilities.

Being a witness however has implications; it requires a great many things. From the “Witness Protection Program” to the famous rock ‘n’ roll diddy that asks: Can I get a witness? we understand that responsibility and truth go hand-in-hand with the act and call to bear witness.

In terms of our faith, it was on this day, Pentecost, that Peter said God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses.—Act 2. Jesus kept his promise—he sent the Holy Spirit. John 14: 16-17 says I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth. The disciples no longer merely had the potential to preach the good news. Once the Spirit came to them, they were not afraid. They saw the life of Jesus in a new light; they could say with confidence “Jesus is Lord.” I rejoice in that realization. It is something I work every day to understand and like the Nike campaign says to “believe.”

What have you witnessed? Isn’t this why we go to live sporting events? When have you served as a witness? Isn’t this why we follow certain players and teams—so we can testify to the truth that they are what all the hype is (or is not) proclaiming. And what has being a witness led you to proclaim?

Photo Credits
LeBron: We are Witnesses

1 comment:

  1. You bring up a great point that we have witnessed a special athlete.

    2 MVPs, countless triple-doubles, mindblowing blocks, passes, you name it; yes, we have witnessed this.

    But, as I'm sure Lebron will agree, he will never have a complete career without at least one championship ring. His inability to win big really makes me question what we are witnessing. However, his career is not over, and he has a lot of time to accomplish this.

    I strongly dislike Shaq, but he's got 4 rings. MJ has 6, Kobe is about to get his 5th (knock on wood), and even Dwayne Wade has a ring.

    So I challenge, if we have not witnessed anything of substance or of meaningful victory, we have not witnessed anything. This is the case of Lebron. The man claims he can win a scoring title every year, but doesn't. Now that might be something to witness.

    Frankly, it's pathetic that we have made Lebron the icon of this current generation when someone like Paul Pierce has accomplished an infinite amount more than Lebron, and deserves more to be standing in an add that states, "We are witnesses."

    Having now lost twice in the playoffs of Division 1 college lacrosse, I can tell you first hand that no matter how many goals are scored, none will ever be worthy of "witnessing" without a complete finish.

    Your alma mater, Notre Dame, is a great example of a team worth witnessing. With a meager 7-6 regular season record, they currently find themselves in the championship game tomorrow against Duke. They are not a flashy team, they win boring, low-scoring games, but, dammit, THEY WIN, and if they win tomorrow, we will genuinely witness the greatest underdog victory in the history of lacrosse.

    I feel bad to rag on Lebron. Whenever anyone asks me who the best athlete in the world is, I say Lebron James. The man is a freak of nature, with, what seems to be, supernatural basketball skills. Just like most kids my age, I would give some meaningless body part to have his gifts.

    But this era has seen Usain Bolt shatter records, home run records broken, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal go back and forth with grand slams, and so much more. What makes Lebron's accomplishments so witness-worthy?

    It is easy to sit in a desk chair and criticize. But:

    What have we witnessed with Lebron that we haven't witnessed before? What has he accomplished that has not already been accomplished?

    I got news for ya'...we already have witnessed, and his name is Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Nolan Ryan, Tom Brady, and Kobe Bryant, and other.