Recently, there was another chapter in that on-going debate about the greatest NBA player. Michael Jordan, when asked who he would pick, Kobe or Lebron, said, “Five (titles) beats one every time I look at it. And not that (James) won’t get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”
Of course, what Jordan didn’t say, but we all heard loud and clear was that he remains at the top of that list with his own 6 championship rings.
Lebron, the King (of Being Defensive), replied, “(Jordan) said he would take Kobe over me because … five rings are better than one, and the last time he checked, five is better than one. At the end of the day, rings don’t always define someone’s career. If that’s the case, then I’d sit up here and say I would take (Bill) Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t take Russell over Jordan. Russell has 11 rings, Jordan has six. I wouldn’t do that.” (But you just did, Lebron.)
I’m not trying to weigh in on who is truly Jordan’s replacement. It is an interesting dynamic that this debate doesn’t go away. It’s clear that for everyone involved the concern is for themselves and their own legacy.
The truth is a labratory-like comparison between the players is impossible. Each has their own season and brings their own unique contribution.
The truth is Kobe and Lebron are building on a foundation that Jordan and many others have built. They wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are today if it wasn’t for the generation that went before.
The truth is Kobe and Lebron are also dealing with massive amounts of competition that the new league has produced. Lebron is able to do things that previous generations only dreamed of, and that’s not a bad thing. That’s great for basketball.
We can have our own version of this debate too when we compare unfairly across generations – whether that’s colleagues or family members who have gone ahead of us or those who follow after.
I’m thankful for the men and women who don’t think this way, and instead honor those who have gone before and build up those who follow.
People often introduce me as being a better preacher than my dad. But I wouldn’t even be a preacher if it wasn’t for my dad and mom’s influence, coaching, mentoring, and nonstop encouragement in that area. For him, being the best preacher isn’t the goal. He’s just happy to see the next generation excel. Thanks Pop and Mom.
We look at our campus ministry now, LifeBox, and are thankful for how far it’s come in the past five years. CJ Nunag and I have had the joy of leading it, but we also know we are only building on what greater men have lain for us. God used men like Ferdie Cabiling, Rico Ricafort, LA Mumar, Gilbert Foliente, Marc Constantino, Dennis Sy and Christian Flores who have their own sets of skills and gifts that have been turned into priceless contributions today. When their turn came to pass it on, they did so graciously without needing to position themselves on the top. They’ve transitioned into other areas where they can continue to break ground and pioneer.
We look at the people who are coming after – students and staff who are so capable and committed. Like Lebron, they’re accomplishing great things at such a young age that we didn’t accomplish till much later. I preached my first sermon to 80 people at 15 years old. I was so nervous that I finished in eight minutes. But everyone stayed supportive. Mark Muleta, at the same age, preached to over four thousand people and hit a homerun. And we’ve got another one lined up for this year’s Ignite.
I’m excited for what these people represent because it makes me hopeful and really excited for the future.
At the end of the day, it’s a question of what we’re really after. If we’re after personal glory, then we will do everything possible to lift ourselves up and tear others down. If we’re after something bigger, something more meaningful, then we will honor those who have gone before and empower those who are coming after. All this leaves for us is to do our best in the season and time we are in right now.
As Gandalf the Grey said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Are you honoring those who have gone before you? Are you empowering those who are coming up?