There was an article out this morning about the Lakers and Heat game and more specifically about the different stages of the careers of the two teams superstars, Kobe and Lebron. It as an interesting article as far as it goes and worth the read. But there was on thing in that article that jumped out at me. It was Lebron's comments about how long he will play, or more accurately, how long the Man Upstairs will let him play. This comment stuck out with me for reasons I will go into. But first, for those interested, here is the the link to it. After you read it, I will have my thoughts on what he said and why I had those thoughts for those interested in that. My thoughts on this are rather long, so if you plunge ahead after the article, you are forewarned, lol.
Now onto my observations:
What really caught my attention more than anything else was LBJ's comment that "the man above knows how much time he's going to give me in this game. And once he decides I don't have any more time to give, then I'll have to call it quits."
When I read that, I thought, the man upstairs? Who would that be? Perhaps he is talking of the day Pat Riley will come down from his office and say, "Hey kid, it's time to hang up the old sneaks."
But no, unfortunately Lebron wasn't talking about his GM. He was of course referring to some god who must really take a very close interest in Lebron and his career. This is just the latest of so many quotes from athletes and entertainers, usually singers, talking about god. It seems to be almost a craze now among this certain set.
You watch a music awards show these days and all you hear is, god is great, or, all praise to god. You watch a sporting event and you see players crossing themselves on the bench, on the field, between plays, right before plays. After the games, they open their mouths and you think, well, you are watching a music award show, or more accurately a church revival meeting.
Let's take a closer look at Lebron's and these other players or entertainers so now common statements. What that really implies for them and their ability to think and view the universe, world, it's history and present as it really is. And what does this idea they have of themselves say about themselves.
Lebron says the man upstairs will decide when his playing days are over. The sheer ego and conceit of this statement opens up a whole pandoras box of implications. To understand these implications, lets take a step back with a quick look at the nature of the universe we live in. We know that it consists of millions of stars which are then circled by millions of planets, just in our own mid-sized galaxy. And in the universe there are millions of these galaxies containing the same. We don't even know how many galaxies there are. And now there is evidence that our universe is not the only one in existence, but one of many. How many? Maybe millions. So you see, we are talking big here. So big, you can't really imagine it. Bigger than Shaq's shoe even. It makes us, this planet, even our own Milky Way Galaxy smaller and more non consequential than a single grain of sand on all the beaches of the world combined.
Yet here is Lebron, and others, who feel that a god who made all this, who I guess we can call the Big Coach or Big GM of everything, has his eye on their sports careers. Like he is sitting up in the owners box with Riles and thinking, Hmmm, I wonder how long I will let Lebron play? Should I end it now, tonight, next year or in ten years?
And it brings up the question, if the Big GM upstairs is so interested in Lebron's career and decides he really digs Lebron's game, or is just a Heat fan, why not make him athletically immortal and let him play for 25 years, or 100 years for forever? Why decide to end his career at all? Let the good times continue to role ad infinitum, right?
And if a player who has a long career is indeed blessed by god, one must assume this god likes him. But what of players who aren't so fortunate? Let's take his own new teamate, Greg Oden. This was player of great potential, it made him a very high pick. Yet his career has been destroyed by an endless series of injuries. He will never be what he was and will be fortunate to have any career at all. Is the Big GM pissed at him for such a shortchange? Did he look down from his office on high and say, "Well, Greg, don't like the way you look. So let's just make those knees into glass," you know, like water into wine.
How good was god to Oden in that regard?
But let's go even further and look at human history. Think about all the suffering that has happened to humans in our history, from when we first appeared here to right this moment. Think of the disease, the accidents the wars, the horrific things that have happened to millions and millions of good people- men, women and children- over the thousands of years of human existence. Think of the horrible suffering, the lonely, hard deaths that will happen just this year. To men, women and yes, children.
Let's take a look at just a recent small, yes small, microcosm of this that happened not long ago. World War II. It was a war that cost over 40 million lives. Deaths from all types of ways, starvation, freezing, sickness, the battles themselves. Families lost everything, families were wiped out of existence. Six million Jews were herded up like cattle, taken to camps, beaten, starved and worked to death. Husbands, wives and children had to watch as their husbands, wives and children were sent into gas chambers then shoved into ovens to come out chimneys as smoke and fat that clung to those chimneys in layers so many feet thick they had to send more Jewish prisoners up those chimneys to scrap the fat off so that more of their friends and family members could be burned up. And eventually, even the chimney scrappers would make that journey up those same chimneys as wisps of smoke. Then they just sent some more people up to scrap the new layers of fat out.
If you put on film, every single horrible thing that happened to every single human during our existence, it would take thousands of years to watch and it would drive a sane person insane.
So here we have the Big GM, who for some reason turned and keeps turning a blind eye to all this. Yet Lebron thinks that this same GM is watching his game, his career and calculating how long he will let him play ball? He actually thinks that this god is so very interested in that?
Or maybe that is why the Big GM has let all these things happen to us. Maybe he is just such a big sports and entertainment fan, all his concentration is on the lives of Lebron and other athletes and entertainers. Maybe he doesn't have the time to focus on the other little problems like WW II or the thousands of babies that will die this year from disease or starvation or neglect.
Maybe he is too busy watching Lebron dunk or Beyonce sing.
The other thought that came to my mind is this: If the Big GM is so interested in Lebron and his career, why the long wait to get the party started? The world is around four billion years old. Before mankind appeared, hundreds of millions of years passed before even single celled life appeared. Then millions more before dinosaurs. Then hundreds of millions of years the dinosaurs ruled before they died off. Then many more millions of years before mankind made it's belated arrival. How short a time have we been on this planet? Stretch you arm out, with your shoulder being the start of earth, now look at your tip of your finger nail. That tip is how long we have been here. If the Big GM upstairs was so concerned about Lebron and his game, how long his career will last, why did it take so long to get that particular party started?
If you look at all these things, one gets the impression the Big GM doesn't give hoot about how long Lebron plays ball. Or Beyonce sings. It really seems an unavoidable conclusion. That is if you are smart enough, educated enough to understand the world and universe we live in. And if you are not so egocentric to think you are that important.
Even further, this concept of the Big GM is brought into focus by so many interviews by athletes. You know them, you have seen them after a team wins. "It was in Gods hands." "God is good." "God was with us." We have all heard it.
So does that mean God is against the losing team? That he attends all these games and decides who wins and who loses? Does that mean he likes one player, one team over another, even though all these teams seem to have so many believers who express that belief every chance they get when a microphone is put in their faces? Is one team just not praying hard enough?
On my Steelers, we have a top level QB, Ben Roethisberger. After every touchdown pass he throws, he points to the Big GM in the sky. The message is clear, "Thanks big guy, it's all on you." So when Ben throws these TD's, apparently it is gods will. But what happens when he throws a game losing interception? He has done that more than once in his career. Yet I have never seen him point to the sky on those. And why not? If god is responsible for the TD passes, doesn't it follow reason that he is responsible for the picks too? Doesn't this just indicate that on that day, the Big GM decided to let the other team win? So since this is Gods will, why shouldn't Ben thank him for that as well?
There was a football player back in 2010, a very talented wide receiver for the Bills named Steve Johnson. Apparently, he was strongin the belief of the Lebron, Roethisberger school of the Big GM who cares about how their career is going. Well, he dropped a pass in a game that cost the Bills that game. Afterwords he put up this tweet:
"I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!!" the 24-year-old tweeted from his iPad at around 5:15 Sunday after the Steelers' 19-16 overtime victory. "AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO"
So here is this athlete, a multi-millionaire who has the best life can offer, a life we can't even imagine. He drops a pass and thinks god has suddenly deserted him? Does he know the history of the human race? Has he ever heard of the holocaust or WW II? Does he have any inkling of the suffering going on with millions of people in history and that continues every day? Yet this man is so egocentric, so oblivious to the reality of the world, that he thinks dropping a pass was some rejection by a god who was just so interested in his game?
You hear these athletes and singers with their endless litany, "God is good. Praise god. It's all on god." Really? If it is all on god, then isn't all the suffering of mankind? It is so easy to be rich and famous, the world literally your oyster, your biggest problem deciding which rich friends house you will party at tonight or what exotic locale you will vacation in for three months and babble on about god being good and have the mind numbing, egomanical conceit that he is interested in your career....while the endless suffering goes on. Or maybe you just are not even aware of what goes on. Maybe you just live in your little bubble of fame, riches and fortune. Maybe you just don't have a clue about the real world.
There is a QB in the NFL who is widely hated. You probable heard of him. His name is Tom Brady. He is hated for many reasons. Too good looking, too good looking a supermodel wife, wins too much. You NFL fans know the drill. All those things never bothered me, because I don't care about them. I actually do like him, even though he has beaten my Steelers more than his fair share. Why? His greatness in one thing I admire, but also because of this, despite all his marvelous games, his many regular season and playoff and super bowl victories, he has never pointed to the sky when he throws a TD, he has never once, not once, in any of his interviews after all those superlative moments and games, said, "It's all about god. God is good." Because Tom Brady knows it's a human game, played by and decided by human endeavor only. And he knows if there is a actually a god who created this universe, he sure isn't sitting in the owners box next to Robert Kraft, watching Tom Brady, giving him a little wink and thumbs up and saying, "Hey Tom, I got this fixed for you, bud."
When you hear all these athletes and entertainers drone on and on about this, you can't help but wonder this: If after the game or the concert or the next award show in front of your thousands of screaming, cheering adoring fans, you got into your three hundred thousand dollar car to get back to your multi-million dollar house, and you got into an accident and ended up a scarred, mutilated quadriplegic, would at your next public appearance, if you decided to have one, would you blow into your straw to spell out on your computer screen, God is good? Somehow, I doubt it.
When I listens to these people, like Lebron, talk about the Big GM who is so concerned in this vast old universe about how their careers proceed, it really makes me wonder how tiny and self centered their world, their universe is.
When you think about how big this universe (s) is, how long it took mankind to come to be on this earth, how much suffering and despair so many millions have lived through and died in, and will for centuries yet to come, I shake my head when I think they have the conceit and hubris to think they have their own private GM sitting in the owners box, all excited and interested if they make dunk, score a bucket, win a game of sports. Or make a hit music record.
It amazes me that they, don't see so clearly that their fortunes and length of their careers will not be decided by some mystical GM upstairs who finally got tired of watching their game, but by the limitations of their physical human bodies and the decision by real life, human GM who one day says, "It's time to retire or I will have to cut you." Because that is the only GM who is watching your game or gives a hoot how you are playing or how long you will play.
A couple last points. I'm sure some will read this and find it as an attack on religion or religious beliefs. It is not. It is my own reflection on how some people become so self centered, so obsessed with their own lives that they make this leap of logic, bring close to themselves this idea that their careers are so important, that some god is watching and pulling the strings for them. In something as totally meaningless as sports, when there is no evidence at all that the same god was interested in things a little more important, like endless human suffering or wars or any litany of bad things that plague us.
Lastly, I do understand Lebron and others of this ilk and mindset, who believe as they do, have that right. They also have the right to point at the sky on every touchdown, tell us how great god is when they have another hit album or TV show, and espouse about how god is so very interested and acutely involved in their successful athletic or entertainment careers while old people will freeze to death tonight and kids will die of cancer today. God sure is good, when you are on the right side of that coin. That warm, fantasy cocoon of a life these people live in. But if they had been in N*zi concentration camp, if they had watched their loved ones stripped naked, beaten, whipped, starved till they weighed 90 pounds, then, when they couldn't work any longer, gassed and burned in an oven, would they tell everyone how good god is or how responsible god is for what has occurred in their lives? Somehow, I doubt it.
It is also my right to shake my head in wonder about how obtuse these people are to nature of reality, to be amazed at the lengths people will go to see themselves as something so special in a universe so large they can't even imagine it. To wallow in the idea that amid all the suffering, trials and travails of humanity, they think some god is watching them, no doubt rooting them on as they wear that athletes jersey, as they play their games. To be so uneducated, so oblivious and unknowing that their own universe is just this little, private, insignificant thing that they have blown up so big. This thing they call themselves. Their own so special lives.
And while I never have written about this before, today, for once, after one stupid comment too many, by another self obsessed athlete, I exercised this right.