Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of most beloved players to ever play in the NBA. He was the finals MVP two times, he made the all star team 18 times, and he helped the Lakers take home five championships. Any player with that resume is going to be admired by many, but Bryant had a little something extra that made him loved by almost everyone.
On January 26th, 2020 Bryant lost his life in a helicopter accident. I remember turning on the TV that day, watching the highlights, and listening to the stories that his friends and teammates told. All the stories had a common thread and that was that Kobe possessed a tenacity and will to be great. His attitude towards the game of basketball was inspiring.
One story stands out in my mind. In 2014 Deron Williams shot 0 for 9 in a game. Bryant was asked about what he would do if he had a stat like that and he said, “I would go 0-for-30 before I went 0-for-9. 0-For-9 means you beat yourself because you lost confidence in yourself”.
Bryant later pointed out that Williams could have had more opportunities and the nine shots reflects that. In other words Williams accepted the fact that he couldn’t make a shot that day. He gave up. On the other hand, Bryant says he would shoot all night because he knows he is eventually going to make it.
I have thought about this quote from time to time, and I think there are wonderful spiritual applications that can be made.
Stats do tell a story.
In the Bible, James says it in this way, “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself. Yea, a man will say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith.”(2:17-18). We may convince others and ourselves that we are trying and putting our best foot forward but our actions tell the real story.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus says “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”. What does your stat sheet say compared to what you say? Sometimes we convince ourselves that everything is a-0k spiritually not realizing Christ holds the page. It like a player protesting a foul while watching the obvious evidence on the Jumbotron
By his stats, you could see that Williams had checked himself out of the game, even though he was still on the court. I wonder how many people have checked out of the game? How many people have already given up and at this point they are simply going through the motions?
When we miss, keep on shooting.
A lot of people actually convince themselves that there is no saving them. There are a number of reasons people believe this. Sometimes people have really tried to shake a sin only to find themselves falling over and over again. For those who have had their sins washed by the blood at baptism (Acts 22:16), there is a promise of continual cleansing. In 1 John 1:7 it says, “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”. There is no reason to give up. If one continues to walk in the light, and confess their sins (1:9), the blood of Christ continually cleanses them. Of course, a continued honest attempt to not sin is necessary.
Sometimes people think they have sinned in such a bad way that they are cursed. The reality is, sin is so bad that even the smallest lie makes one guilty for an eternity in hell. This is the amazing story of God’s grace. No man has ever deserved it. Comparing sins to others is not how one is saved. Coming in contact with the blood of Christ is! God’s plan of salvation is for all people (Rom 1:16). Even the chiefest of sinners (1 Tim 1:15)!
Do I have the confidence in my faith to keep shooting through a slump?
Those who watched Kobe’s career know that he wasn’t just blowing hot air. He really would keep shooting. Why? Because he prepared for those moments. He didn’t rely on raw talent and winging it. He was known for being the first to practice. He was known for working on a simple move for hours. He put in as much preparation as he possibly could.
Many people have a fair-weather faith. They have created a world and an expectation that God will never allow something bad to affect them. James 1:2 says just the opposite, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations”. There is a certain expectation that we are going to experience the difficulties and struggles that are brought with living in this world. The question is, am I prepared for it?
Preparation does not include getting Phillipians 4:13 tattooed on your arm. It involves taking time to tattoo it and other truths of God’s word on your heart.
Preparation includes taking time to prepare. Hebrews 10:25 gives instructions to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together”. In our modern language it says, “go to church”. The contextual reason for this command? Preparation. We go to church because it is commanded, but it is commanded in part because it is going to make us ready for the slumps of life.
A stat can tell a lot. What would your stat line say about you?