I have been a fan of NBA basketball for as long as I can remember. As a young boy, I never missed a televised NBA game, I watched NBA Inside Stuff with Ahmad Rashād every Saturday morning, and I’d wake up each morning and check the newspaper to discover what happened in the league the night before.
From the engaging personalities of the players and coaches (and even the GMs and owners) to the amazing display of talent and athleticism, the NBA is one of the most entertaining shows on earth, but it is even more entertaining when your hometown team is winning. That was definitely the case when “my” Houston Rockets hoisted the Larry O’Brien championship trophy in back-to-back years in the mid-90s. As a basketball fan, it is exciting to watch great basketball games, but it’s even more exciting to watch “my” team play at a highly competitive level.
And that is the case right now. The Houston Rockets, after acquiring James Harden before the 2012-2013 season, have become nationally relevant. Several years ago, they made it to the Western Conference Finals, and this year they have emerged as a legitimate contender (although I still think they need another piece or two, but that’s neither here nor there). With this return to national prominence, I find myself anxiously awaiting the next game to see if “my” team is the real deal. When they win against a good team like the Thunder or the Spurs I am elated, and my excitement carries over into the next few days, but when they lose I am dejected and my sadness carries over into the following days. And that is why I am writing this blog, not to provide my analysis on Houston Rockets basketball (although I will if you ask me to), nor to persuade anyone as to why the NBA is the best professional sports league on the planet, but as a reminder to myself that my identity is not found in any basketball team or player.
It may seem silly to some, but, as humans, we are easily distracted and quickly lose our focus. If it’s not basketball that vies for your affections, it’s something else. During a time like this, when the Houston Rockets are in the playoffs, I have to remind myself that who I am has nothing to do with the success of my favorite team (I assume many avid sports fans can relate). If my team wins or loses, that does not define me. What defines me is that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am a child of the living God. In Christ I have found lasting joy, unlike the temporary happiness that comes from my favorite team winning the championship. While it is cool that the Rockets won two championships back in the 90s, the joy that comes from knowing Christ is not a joy that comes from trying to relive the past; the joy that comes from knowing God is eternal. The Bible tells us that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). While I have tasted and seen the joy that comes from knowing God, I am also susceptible to fall back into my old ways, which more often than not, lead me try to find joy in fleeting pleasures, such as “my” team winning an NBA title.
So, I will continue to cheer on the Houston Rockets and hope that they win an NBA title, either this year or the next, all the while praying that I will not be distracted from the glorious reality of God in whom there is endless joy and infinite value. Rather than finding my identity in my favorite sports team, I pray that I will find my identity in Christ alone.