I was asleep on a school morning about ready to get up, and my mom walks in the bedroom and said, “Get up. The Governor is on the phone.” I said, “Yeah, Yeah.” I thought she was kidding. She said, “No, the Governor of Georgia, George Busby, is on the phone, and he wants to talk to you. So I got up, and it was Governor Busby. He was asking me to go to the University of Georgia. He was trying to recruit me for the major university in Georgia because I was from Georgia. That really works on you when the Governor is waking you up in the morning, schmoozing you to go to the state university.
One time we were playing Charlotte at Duke. It was a wintertime game. We were playing a nationally televised game. We had a little down time the afternoon of the game. We were in a hotel next to a big mall in Charlotte. I and Mike Gminski, our big All-American Center were just walking through the mall killing time, and within ten minutes we had a hundred kids following us, wanting our autograph, just wanting to be around us as we walked down the mall. That'll make your head swim.
When you leave that arena, arriving at your top, which every athlete does, and it's over. For example, a professional like *Michael Jordan, who eventually retires, and he’s out of the game. Every athlete, high school athlete, college athlete, pro athlete...you get your maximum, and you’re gone. Over time the limelight fades, and then life has to go on. You've got to deal with it. I have seen some of my former teammates, and people I played with in the country who can’t deal with that. They can't come off of that high and create a life well. Because of my conversion, because of confessing Christ, because getting into the scriptures and letting Him deal with my ego, over time my transfer for life and abundant life was that of moving from a sense of worth in basketball to a sense of worth in being in Christ. It takes time because it's an addiction. It's like coming out of alcoholism or coming out of food addiction. You have to put disciplines into that. You have died to self. The Apostle Paul says, “I die daily.” You have to store up treasures in heaven because the other life [before Christ] is storing up treasures on earth.
In my Duke career as a young Christian in that crazy world, I wasn’t a star. There are four guys that I played with who went on to play in the **NBA, which I didn’t do. I played in ninety percent of the games I dressed out for awhile at Duke University. I was the first four backup, but I was never called to the press conference after the game. That wasn't my role. I look back on that, and I thank God for that because the enticement, even at that level, might have been so great and so addictive that I might not have been able to come off of that and serve the Lord as a minister. That might have been too much for me. Now I can look back and say, “Thank you, God, that I didn't ‘make it,’” like my fellow teammates or some of my fellow teammates did. That has ultimately been a blessing for me.
*American former professional basketball player, and entrepreneur
**National Basketball Association: the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America