Friday, January 15, 2010

A Lesson Learned from the New York Knicks and Fearing Ghosts

My wife and I attended the New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game last Saturday night at the Ford Center. Oklahoma City won in a blowout--106-88. Really, the game wasn't even that close. The Thunder had a 29 point lead in the fourth quarter before exlusively playing their reserves the final six minutes. The OKC Thunder are young, athletic, and really good.

But what is fascinating about this game is the storyline afterwards. It seems that some of the Knick players blamed the loss on "ghosts" in the hotel where they slept the two nights before the game. That hotel, the Oklahoma City Skirvin, is a historic, recently renovated, five star hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. U.S. Presidents, Hollywood stars, international royalty and thousands of others have stayed at the Skirvin since its opening in the early 1900's. I love the Skirvin because OKC's history resonates in the lobby and halls. One of our church members was the night manager of the hotel when the Skirvin re-opened in 2007, and Rachelle and I were able to enjoy a few nights in the Skirvin at the "family and friends" rate. Last time we stayed there, I ran into my friend Chief Justice Robert Henry, who told me that the Skirvin had literally been his home while he attended law school at Oklahoma City University. He lived in the hotel, prior to its renovation, for over two years. Everyone in OKC who knows a little history of the Skirvin is familiar with the "ghost stories" about the hotel. We locals laugh about it.

But the Knicks weren't laughing. It seems that at least some of them were genuinely scared; to the point of not sleeping well. They blamed their lack of rest for the loss to the Thunder. Those of us watching the game knew the Knicks shot a great deal more poorly and rebounded far worse than the Thunder players. But if you had asked me after the game why this was so, I would have simply said, "OKC is a better basketball team." The ghost story, however, is a sure fire more interesting explanation than the straight forward one.

One of the traits of human behavior I've observed over the years is that when things don't go well for us, we have a tendency to blame other individuals, other circumstances, and other events for our failure, rather than taking responsibility and identifying the problem within us. There's something refreshing about a person or an organization that is performing poorly and simply says, "We are not very good right now. That doesn't mean we can't get better. It just means that unless things change, we will never fulfill our mission."

Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while each time expecting different results.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the Knicks/Skirvin ghost story its that when we struggle in our endeavors, we should ask God to keep us from seeing the kind of ghosts that drive us to insanity.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Ron said...

Got post Wade. I guess it goes to show we are all the same. In Taiwan and much of the third world there is a strong belief in ghosts and spirits. I think it is because of the natural tendency to try and find an excuse for our problems instead of our own failures or often our own sin. It gets to the point where their whole world view or religious system is geared to appeasing evil spirits and trying to get favors from dead ancestors. That is why they need the Gospel. The truth shall set you free.

It is interesting to hear our leaders try to find who to blame for the current problems in the SBC that have caused us to seek a Great Commission Resurgence. I have not heard anyone willing to say it might be our leadership’s fault or even more unbelievably that the Conservative Resurgence has any responsibility.
Ron West

Tom Parker said...


I continue to be amazed by the SBC leaders in the emphasis of the GCR without ever admitting the SBC was right on track with Bold Mission Thrust till the takeover overshadowed the BMT till it dropped completely from the radar. Know we find ourselves over 30 years later trying to do what the SBC was poised to do 30 years ago. Aint going to happen.

Bob Cleveland said...

One of the premises of Christianity is that we serve an all-powerful God Who will provide what we need to serve Him as He desires. So, when a church, a convention, a denomination, doesn't have enough money or enough volunteers, or isn't getting the results God says we should be getting, the question must be "What are WE doing wrong?"

A church might ask what it is they're not doing that God wants them to do, or what they're doing that God doesn't want them to do. Ditto for other organizations.

In my experience, that almost never happens. Instead, blame the economy, blame culture, blame the devil, blame other religions, etc.

Good post.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

Anyone see Frank Page as being positioned to be either the new president of NAMB, or the first president of whatever one global mission entity that comes out of the GCRTF? Just a thought. Can't remember if Pat Robertson told me that or if it was just the ghosts.

:) said...


Good points one and all.


david b mclaughlin said...

I have a story about the Skirvin that relates to Elvis.

JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet toured with Elvis for many years. Several years ago when JD was still alive they were going through OKC and had some time to kill. JD called me (I was proud to call him a friend) and I took him and the rest of the group downtown to Chelinos for dinner.

When we were on our way downtown JD asked me if the Skirvin Hotel was still there. He remembered it from when they stayed there when Elvis played the Myriad (now Cox Convention Center) years earlier.

At the time the Skirvin was in between owners and not open but I was impressed that this man who had traveled all over the world and had been in thousands of hotels remembered The Skirvin by name.

And he loved Chelinos.


Rex Ray said...

Is Church like Sports?

A coach is usually someone who’s played the game. The more players respect him, the harder they try to please. If a team is a loosing team, there’s a reason why.

Good reasons for loosing:
1. Lack of experience.
2. Wrong size.
3. Lack of skill.

Bad reason for loosing: Players don’t care.

If there’s no good reason for loosing, does the school start over with a new kids, or do they get a coach that can motivate them to win?

Rex Ray said...

The topic is sports. Right?

Is asking: ‘is church is like sports’ so far off topic that no one will give their thoughts on the subject or do preachers and preacher sympathizers not want to face reality?