In May of 2002, NBA Superstar Alan Iverson sat down before Press members and unleashed a rant that has become one of the most famous press conference tirades in American Sports history.
Iverson was upset at his coach, Larry Brown, for contending that Iverson’s missing practice and practice habits may have cost his team another final’s appearance.
Iverson could hardly believe he was having to answer questions about practice, saying, “I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice.”
In a span of two minutes, Iverson would say the word “practice” more than twenty times! NBA players reacted mostly with laughter and mimics of the interview. They know how tremendously important practice is for the successful athlete. Their dads probably pushed them saying, “Practice makes perfect!”
Listen to the contrasting sound of two 1992 “Dream Team” members.
Michael Jordan’s teammates say his practice habits were intense. It was like they had a game instead of a practice. Jordan says, “Every day in practice is like a competition – so when the game comes it’s nothing that I haven’t already practiced. It’s a routine. Whatever happens in the game, okay, I’ve done this before.”
Larry Bird says, “I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I would still wonder if somebody, somewhere, was practicing more than me.” He continues, “Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.”
Practice is even more important for the Christian. Eternity’s game is coming. We are simply in practice now. Switching analogies, we are in the dress rehearsal now. One day, if well prepared, we will be ushered onto the stage and the curtain will open for the big play.
Our practice includes reading God’s word, living it out in daily life, praying to God, developing Christ-likeness and serving others. We not only accept it when our Heavenly Coach corrects us and shows us our flaws, we covet such a coach. We say…
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting”
We practice to hone our knowledge and skill (2 Pet. 3:18) We practice to learn how to defeat our opponent – not being ignorant of his game (2 Cor. 2:11). We practice to become spiritually fit for heaven (1 John 3:7). We practice to build spiritual muscle and stamina so that we are still going strong in the final quarter (Phil. 3:12). One of the strongest Christians ever said it this way…“Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:15). That sounds a little like Jordan and Bird.
The truth is, heaven’s eternal game is for those who love the game so much they begin practicing it now. They love to study and pray and sing and serve. They love seeing themselves becoming like the Master player Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). Those who never practice, never show great desire, and never show any progress will not be on Heaven’s Dream Team.
For now the gym is open. The roster is not settled. Opportunity is there for all. Will you practice today? It’s what all of God’s franchise players do. Watch today’s ESPN video. Think about it and have a blessed day.
– Jeff May