AIA All-Star Breakfast

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

David Robinson (NBA MVP, 2 time NBA Champion 1999, 2003) Bobby Jones award winner 2012

David Robinson (NBA MVP, 2 time NBA Champion 1999, 2003) Bobby Jones award winner 2012

On Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. PST, reported 25,594,613 total NBA-related tweets. The 2015 NBA Finals averaged nearly 20 million viewers per game, with a peak at over 28 million viewers (as reported by Names like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are known worldwide, and the NBA can sell out arenas for mere preseason exhibition games in many countries in the world.

On top of all this – and somewhat less impressive – I have a seemingly never-ending stream of NBA-related conversations, comments, videos, and articles that pepper my Facebook feed. To some, this might be some kind of sign of the apocalypse, but to many of us, this is an opportunity. This is a hill, and there are many who seek to bring a light to shine off the top of that hill.

From Feb. 12-14, the NBA will host its all-star weekend in Toronto. The best players in the best basketball league in the world will be present, and we have a chance to encourage and build into those men and women who would dare to use their position on the hilltop to shine a light out into the world.

That opportunity is the annual All-Star Breakfast, hosted by Athletes In Action. It’s an invite-only event for NBA alumni and people around the league – front office personnel, referees, and various others who make the game what it is. They are encouraged in their efforts to impact this world for good; efforts that put aside self-interest, in favour of love.  The guests will hear from speakers who will challenge them to persevere in their faith, in one of the hardest environments ever in which to stay faithful.

Two people will also be recognized for their faithfulness and selfless contribution to the world, and using their platform to its potential. They will be recognized with the Bobby Jones Award and the Jerry Colangelo Award. Past recipients have included NBA players Michael Redd, Alan Houston and David Robinson, team owners  Rich DeVos and Don Carter, and former NBA coach Del Harris.

This year’s winners are well known in the global basketball community, though they’re not superstars or even high-profile celebrities. Dell Curry will be the recipient of the Bobby Jones Award, and Dick Bavetta will be presented with the Jerry Colangelo Award. Both have worked tirelessly and with determination to bring light to dark places.

Bavetta personified dedication – he finished his 39-year career as an NBA referee without ever missing an assignment. And that remarkable run never would’ve even started if he hadn’t persevered through nine years of being rejected in his effort to become an NBA ref. That story alone should challenge us to push harder. This year, during All-Star weekend, Bavetta gets another opportunity to shine that light on one of the highest hills in our culture.

Curry is a retired NBA player, and at this point in his life is probably better known as the father of Steph Curry, last year’s NBA MVP. But Dell, a sharpshooting guard who ranks 43rd on the NBA’s all-time three-pointers list, was an excellent player in his own right. He’s the all-time scoring leader for the Charlotte Hornets, and currently works at the colour commentator for the team’s television broadcasts.

Both Curry and Bavetta are active in charitable work. They have spoken to business and youth groups, established scholarship funds, charitable organizations and foundations, and have been stellar examples to all watching.

The next time you watch a game and see a ref making a call, or you see Steph Curry knock down another three-ball, consider the influence that these two men had on the NBA, which in turn shapes our culture. Think about the men and women who continue that work. Pray for Athletes In Action as they look to build into, encourage and challenge those men and women, and pray for them as they look to be bright lights shining from the big city on the hill.

Written by Matt Guynup