“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”Psalm 90:12
I t is estimated that the average NBA team is worth $2.58 billion—and the collective fair-market value of the league’s 30 franchises is $77.5 billion. Those huge figures demonstrate the amazing turnaround the sport has made.
In the fall of 1950, the league started with 11 teams, down from 17 the previous season. Another team would fold later that season, leaving only 10 teams. The league was in trouble. There was a problem. On November 22, 1950, the Fort Wayne Pistons edged the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18 in a game where the teams scored a total of eight baskets.
Three years later, 106 fouls were called and 128 free throws shot in a playoff game between Boston and Syracuse. Bob Cousy scored 30 points from the foul line alone! In 1954, Syracuse beat New York 75-69 in another playoff horror show where free throws outnumbered baskets 75-34.
Can you guess the problem?
The game was dull and played too often at a snail’s pace, with one team opening up a lead and freezing the ball until time ran out. The only thing the trailing team could do was foul. As a result, games became rough, ragged, and turned into free throw-shooting contests.
1954 was the turning point. In 1954-55, NBA teams averaged 93.1 points, an increase of 13.6 points over the previous season. The Boston Celtics became the first team in NBA history to average more than 100 points per game for a season, and three years later, every team did it.
Can you guess what changed the game? If you visit the Starbucks on South Franklin Street in Syracuse, New York, you will find an unusual monument sitting outside. It’s a monument to the thing that impacted the game of basketball—the 24-second shot clock.
The addition of a finite amount of time, coupled with the loss of opportunity, transformed the sport of basketball. A recognition of the same principle in our spiritual lives can also transform the productivity of our influence for Christ. Psalm 90:12 instructs us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Wisdom is simply recognizing and living out God’s will for our lives. A heart of wisdom means having the passion and will to do so.
I don’t know about you, but as I reflect on my life, my greatest regrets are the shots I didn’t take. It was the opportunities I missed by playing it safe, dribbling the ball, dancing around the edges, and putting off taking the shot. I was more worried about what would happen if I missed the shot instead of what would happen taking it. Think about how that relates to missed opportunities to share the gospel, show sacrificial love to my wife or a friend, or care enough to get involved and spend the time needed to help someone hurting. How boring!
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we have “a great cloud of witnesses.” What kind of a game are they seeing? Is it dull, being played at a snail’s pace to avoid losing? Let’s change the game. Let’s play to win! Time to be intentional, look for opportunities and take risks. Stand firm and take the shot!