Orlando Magic and Personal Life Parallels

28 Jan

If you have spoken to me for more than 1 hour, you would know that I love sports (among other things which I’ll leave for you to discover!) This post is about the NBA team I support, Orlando Magic. But if you don’t like sports, or just basketball; don’t go away just yet, give this article a chance as it is a little more than “just sports”

Basically, I am a young christian man and on the cusp of entering great things. As you enter on this journey, you endure growing pains. You have great highs and huge lows in order to position yourself through growth, experiences and lessons. This point in life is all about laying the foundation for my future while savoring the moments of today. It’s exciting as one often catches the glimpses of excellence that will be further revealed in the near future but it’s frustrating as you have to push through the days of slow progress and doubts. In spite of all these things, I know I can trust in God to make a way for me and step into the dreams and potential that I hold.

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This closely parallels the storyline of the basketball team I follow, Orlando Magic. Since trading away their star player, Dwight Howard; Orlando has had to rebuild, make trades and draft new young players into the team with the intention of developing them and hoping they earn their spot for the upcoming years. It’s all about laying the foundation and putting them in the best position to win a championship in a few years time. With that enticing thought in mind, you have to endure the struggles that result in tough losses. You have to take the punches to the chin and learn from them, knowing you will be stronger and better for it the next day. I almost changed teams before we traded away our star player because the whole situation was frustrating for me as a supporter. I couldn’t barrack for a broken team; however. my loyalty wouldn’t let me. I decided to stick with the team and swallow the tough times, so that when they do win their first championship, I can be a proud supporter who stuck by them in the hard times. Although, I have found myself enjoying following the progress of this team, not because we may be getting closer to a championship, but because they have taught me so much in relevance to my own life, through their attitudes, hard work, words and actions. I constantly watch their games, read the articles, stats and their tweets to gain more insights to who they are and what they do, on and off the court. They inspire me to adapt their mindset in ways I never thought they could. I may have lost you right now, but I’ll explore further how they have challenged my thinking. Orlando Magic has been a fantastic team for me to support in this point of my life because I have discovered that I needed to hear their progress and how they went about it. In other words, they are far more relevant to me than just a basketball team and that only pushes me more to support them.

I will share how certain players on the team have challenged me uniquely and inspired a certain mindset for me.

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(Tobias Harris and Coach Jacques Vaughn)

Tobias Harris – This young man was actually traded to Orlando Magic last year. I had never heard of him prior to the trade. As I discovered more and more about him, I have grown fondly of this hard-working player and could eventually become my favourite player. When he was playing for Milwaukee Bucks, he was not getting much, if any, game time. He was getting frustrated because he felt he had a lot to offer, he had size, athleticism and skills to develop into a good player but wasn’t getting noticed according to him. He would call his father for advice; every time his father would always tell him to keep working hard, keep training hard and when your number is called up, to be ready and make the most of that opportunity. He did that and soon he was traded to Orlando Magic, he got his opportunity and flourished. He put up staggering numbers for a young player who recently didn’t have many minutes on court at Milwaukee. It was incredible to see this young man gain reward for his training. He now has lofty goals that he will continue to work hard for. It may be outrageous to achieve them but with the mindset of his, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was to achieve them, become an All-star one day and even bring home the championship. He tweets every morning on Twitter Bible verses that he has read and it’s more incredible seeing this man with a heart after God also. Tobias Harris inspires me to work hard, practice as much as I can, despite the little opportunities I may see; because one day, my number will be called up by God and I have to be ready to knock it out of the ballpark.

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(Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo)

Arron Afflalo – is the self-motivated, hard-working player who constantly looks to improve himself and his game. He is happy but never satisfied until he gains the ultimate glory of a championship. He was traded to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard multi-trade deal. He was expected to be the ‘go-to man’ of Orlando. He has always had a chip on his shoulder and felt the need to prove himself especially as he started on a team that had championship players (Detroit Pistons). He rarely got game time but proved himself through his tenacious defense. Eventually he moved to Denver, where he played a back up role and gained some extra minutes. He was a reliable role player who continued to develop his ability to score while retaining his defensive skills. Now that he has moved to Orlando and been thrusted into the limelight of a rebuilding team, with a chance to shine. Afflalo took it all on his shoulders and learnt many valuable lessons. Afflalo finished the season knowing that he needed to be better, more efficient as he found it difficult with the extra pressure applied by opposition, along with the status of being the ‘best’ player. With that intention in mind, Afflalo has increased his efficiency, his scoring output and his presence on the court. He is often called the most ‘underrated’ player, a dangerous player and has people calling for him to be on the All Star team after witnessing his improvement this year. Another incredible statistic to underline the value of his improvement is that only one player in the past has increased his points per game each season for the first seven seasons. Arron Afflalo teaches me to work hard on my craft, learn from times of pressure and situations so that I can better in what I do.

Victor Oladipo – Oladipo is the newest player, having been drafted at number 2 and is playing his first season. Victor is an incredible workhorse. When he was younger, he was never expected to play NBA. However, this was his dream and he was determined to make it a reality. In his first year of college, he was considered the third or fourth best player on the team; in his second year, he was considered the second best player on the team, and in his third year, he was better than all of them. A lot of it was due to his athleticism but a lot of it was also due to his work ethic. Now that he is playing NBA with high expectations; Oladipo has had to adjust to the pace and dynamics of the game. His weaknesses such as turning over the ball and his three point shooting has been exposed but this gives Oladipo the motivation to further work on his game so that he can help his team and also become a champion of the game. When Oladipo has a bad game, he takes it on the chin and learns from it. When he has a good game, he humbly accepts it and looks to be better the next game. Victor Oladipo’s attitude and work ethic inspires me to push towards my dream; especially when people can’t see it happening. Only I can put in the work to see my dream become a reality.

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(Maurice Harkless)

Maurice Harkless – Harkless is in an interesting situation because he is the youngest player on the team and is playing his second season. In fact, he is the same age as me. Maurice is a very athletic player who is tall for his position. He has the ability to be a fantastic defender, a great rebounder and be able to attack the basket for points. However it’s the ability to be able to shine those skills consistently. The work ethic to expand his game and be more dangerous on court. Maurice is a player who knows he can be a wonderful basketballer but needs to develop further, be aggressive and make the most of his opportunities. Some games he can score 15-20 points; other games he is non-existent. This has often caused him not play some games due to the coach but despite those circumstances, the coach is often sharing encouragement and words of wisdom so that he can make the most of his opportunity and eventually tap into the incredible potential he has as a basketball player. ‘Moe’ Harkless inspires me to work on my craft, listen to my mentors and tap into the unlimited potential that God has placed inside me, even when the circumstances don’t show it.

 

They are only four players out of a possible thirteen that I could have named but I didn’t want to ramble on any further. Those four key players show how their lessons have been applied into my life as I’ve needed it. People think basketball is only a sport but it’s more than that and I have shown why. If people need to know why I’m heavily passionate about Orlando Magic, it is written up here. Now I am looking forward to a championship; but for now, I’m looking forward to following their progress and learning more about their lessons.

Thank God for Basketball!

 

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