Donald Sterling's racist rant about blacks last month put a huge amount of focus on professional athletes. Many sports writers and fans have labeled today's athletes as spoiled, ungrateful, prima donnas who have no appreciation for those who came before them.
You can count me in this group. But, if what I have been seeing over the past two weeks continue, I may become a believer in the fledgling view that some athletes are beginning to "get it."
First, NBA players made it clear to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that they would boycott playoff games if Sterling was not banned from the game. The players won. Sterling was not only permanently banned from the NBA, but the league is in the process of forcing him to sell his NBA franchise.
For those who need more convincing that some professional athletes are beginning to "get it;" one need look no further than newly crowned MVP of the NBA, Kevin Durant.
His acceptance speech given last week during the presentation of the award will go down as one of the best speeches ever given by a professional athlete. To see the speech in it's entirely, go to http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/05/kevin-durant-mvp-speech-mom
What manner of man is Kevin Durant that he was moved to give such a wonderful speech? He called each of his teammates by name and made a personal comment about each; and ended by giving his mother the best Mother's Day gift possible. The above-referenced video speaks for itself.
The video immediately went viral and has continued to be discussed inside and outside of sports. But, in watching Durant's impassioned speech, I could not help but notice an alarming fact that I have yet to hear any discussion of regarding his comments—his beginning and ending of his speech.
In the media and on various blogs, I have yet to see one mention of Durant's public confession of his Christianity. Here is how he opened his speech, "First off, I would like to thank God for changing my life...for letting me realize what life is really all about...basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people and I realize that..."
He then closed his speech by saying, "last, I just like to thank God again...he's the first and the last, alpha and omega. I thank you for saving my life."
Talking about Durant's speech without mentioning the role of God in his life is like having a hamburger without the bun; it's simply just a piece of meat that is not complete. You know as well as I that if Durant had opened and closed his speech with him talking about being homosexual, it would be the lead headline of his whole speech. But because he talked about his belief in God, the media made a conscious decision to pretend it was never mentioned.
This is Exhibit A in the continued secularization of our society. Durant, by all accounts, is a great person on and off the court. He conducts himself in a manner that brings honor to his parents, the NBA, and society at large; and also is an avowed God fearing Christian.
Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, instilled these Christian values in him and his brother, Tony. As a single parent, she raised them as if she were a drill sergeant. She didn't give them choices, but rather gave them direction. She took them to church, not asked if they wanted to go. She protected them with the shadow of her moral values and Christian beliefs. Christian values doesn't stop you from doing wrong, it just stops you from enjoying doing wrong.
Talking about Kevin Durant without acknowledging his Christian values is like talking about Richard Nixon without discussing Watergate; or Nelson Mandela without discussing Apartheid; it would be an incomplete account of who they were. So, as we Christians celebrate the shining example of Durant's life, let us not allow the media to edit out the essence of who Durant is — a God fearing Christian.
This is not about proselytizing or "wearing one's Christianity on their sleeve;" but rather about telling the whole story of who a person is. Homosexual athletes receive praise from on high from the media and politicians when they come out of the closet; they argue that these athletes should not have to hide who they are.
So, why then should Christian athletes who come out as Christians not receive the same accolades from the media and politicians? Why should they hide who they are: The media, with their reporting, has truly shown who they are.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.)