Monday, June 4, 2007

No Excuses ...

I anticipated watching the Detroit Pistons play the San Antonio Spurs for the 2007 NBA Championship. I was wrong.

One of the best take-aways in watching this otherwise disappointing series was the response of the Cavs to what might have been easy excuses for losing the first 2 games of the series in Detroit. They refused to play the "blame game." GM Danny Ferry and Coach Brown insisted that their players adopt a "no-excuses" attitude. They did. It worked. They're headed to the NBA Championship series.

LeBron James said"You just have to learn from what happened and maybe try to execute a little bit better next time."

That's true in ministry. This is the time of year we complete our annual pastoral service reports and denominational statistical report forms. The process can be discouraging if the church hasn't made quantifiable progress in the last 12 months. Rather than blaming the weather (although we did get hammered by snow storms in February) or the Sunday School superintendent or the music director or the new church down the street, take a moment to learn from what happened last year and let's try to execute a little better next time. I think that falls under the category of leading with diligence (Romans 12:8).

For church leaders on the edge... no excuses!

***** Below are two articles; the first written when Cleveland was down 0-2 in the series and the second written after they won the series (only the 3rd team in NBA history to overcome those odds).


Mike Popovich - Canton Repository online edition (May 27, 2007)

Cavaliers Head Coach Mike Brown was clearly upset when LeBron James did not get a call after drawing contact from Richard Hamilton during the final seconds of Thursday's Game 2 loss to the Pistons.

By the time his postgame press conference began, Brown had cooled down. He stuck up for James on the court but said afterward the Cavs are a no-excuse team.

"I feel like if I play this or blame that, I'm letting us off the hook and giving us an excuse," Brown said. "I don't want to be about that."

It would have been easy for Brown to come in and criticize the officials for not calling a foul on
Hamilton. A league fine would have followed.

The message the coach wanted to convey is the Cavs need to take matters in their own hands.
"I want us to control our own destiny, so we've just got to play better," Brown said.

James took a cue from his coach.

"It was definitely a situation where maybe things could have got out of hand on that podium with me up there and with Coach also," James said. "You guys could see it in our guys that we maybe wanted to say something, but it's not about that.

"You just have to learn from what happened and maybe try to execute a little bit better next time."


Down 2-0,
Cleveland likely will have to win Game 3 tonight and Game 4 on Tuesday at home to have a realistic shot at advancing to the finals. "It's a challenge, but it's nothing we haven't been part of before," James said. The Cavs find themselves in the same position they were last year in the conference semifinals. They were able to stretch the series to a decisive Game 7 before losing at Detroit.


The Cavs hope to become just the 12th team in NBA history to rally from a 2-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven series. The 1971 Baltimore Bullets and the 1993 Chicago Bulls are the only teams to have done it in a conference final.

Reach Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail


The call that changed it all

Sunday, Jun 3, 2007 3:46 am EDT

CLEVELAND -- One team gained strength as the series went on, one got weaker. One club became more confident, the other got rattled. One stayed resilient, the other imploded.

The irony is that it was the young Cleveland Cavaliers who showed maturity, while the veteran Detroit Pistons fell apart at the seams. That's why Cleveland is headed to its first NBA finals.

This series was decided at the end of Game 2, when LeBron James attacked the rim, drew contact from Richard Hamilton but wasn't awarded a foul. The Cavs were furious with the no-call, fled the court in anger and prepared to meet the media after going down 2-0. The coaches and players were irate, ready to rip the officials for failing to call a foul on the play and costing Cleveland the game.

Instead, general manager Danny Ferry and his assistant Lance Blanks took control of the situation, demanding from everyone that no excuses would be made. Hence, the quote from both Mike Brown and LeBron James: "We're a no-excuses team."

The Cavaliers gained strength from that moment. The message delivered to the press was as much meant for Cleveland's players as anyone. Refusing to blame the officials meant showing no signs of weakness. It meant building strength rather than allowing an internal excuse...