This morning I am teaching Confirmation class to some fifty 6th graders. So of course, I was thinking about basketball
That much is normal. What is not normal is that I was thinking about North Carolina basketball….in a positive light! Some of you won’t understand, but members of Big Blue Nation (University of Kentucky fans) are raised from birth to understand that the Tar Heels are the enemy!
How did I get there? This morning’s class was on our doctrinal distinctives. I was thinking about how we are often able to see because we stand on other’s shoulders. For example, John Wesley brought to the church an understanding from Scripture of God as a loving Father, but standing on the shoulders of others helped him see. Luther and Calvin are examples of those who had gone before and given great insight to the church.
And so I was thinking about Dean Smith, past coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Dean Smith is credited with so many innovations we now take as normal:
- Huddling at the free throw line before a free throw attempt
- Pointing a finger at the guy who made the assist
- Giving the “tired” signal to the coach when a player needs a rest
- Using multiple defenses in a game
- Using the point guard to call out the defensive sets
- And perhaps the most infamous, the ball control offense. Dean Smith managed to make the game so boring by effectively running the four corner offense that the NCAA instituted a shot clock to speed up play.
The kind of basketball that I and countless other fans love today – that of aggressive, fast-paced offense would not have been possible without Dean Smith’s extremely effective use of the rules of that day. In fact, it occurs to me now that when Kentucky wins their 8th National Championship on April 2nd, they may owe a sort of a debt of gratitude to Dean Smith!
I stand on the shoulders of more people than I can count. My dad’s integrity and humility. My mother’s hospitality and passion for the overlooked and the outcast. Dr. Kinlaw’s preaching. Jeff Blake’s encouragement. Hule Goddard’s mentoring. Rev. Slone’s teaching. Annamarie Hamilton’s grace. And on and on. I did a Facebook post once mentioning many who had invested in me…and on whose shoulders I stand to see.
Whose shoulders do you stand on?
And this may be another whole post, but while Dean Smith changed the game for the better…the final result looks like nothing he envisioned. As others stand on my shoulders and on yours, can we let them improve on what we have created even when it feels like dismantling? Looking back, how do we learn from those who went before to allow others to come after?