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Winning while losing

NBA stars Jeremy Lin and LeBron James find benefits from difficult seasons


Jeremy Lin Associated Press/Photo by Mark J. Terrill

Winning while losing
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In sports, which team wins and which loses doesn’t have lasting significance. Halfway through the NBA season, though, one Los Angeles Laker says his team’s lowly record has changed his relationship with God.

Jeremy Lin, 26, hasn’t had an uplifting year by conventional standards. The Houston Rockets traded him to the Lakers this summer, but not before attempting to lure New York’s Carmelo Anthony with a banner that gave him Lin’s jersey number. On the court, finding even a dozen wins has drained blood and sweat from a Laker squad now mired in the bottom five. “I went through one of the worst, if not the worst, slump I’ve had in my basketball life,” Lin wrote on New Year’s Day.

The candid blog post told of sleeplessness and a discouragement that often stretched well beyond the final buzzer. Yet he began to “fight for a life of joy” through prayer and reading his Bible. “It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it has been a rewarding one,” Lin said. “I can see myself surrendering the results to God. … I complain less and am more grateful. I feel much more peace and joy.”

Lin isn’t the only one publicly slogging through a career low point, either, with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers clinging to a .500 record after a losing skid. “Right now we’re just not very good in every aspect of the game that we need …,” James said last month, echoing earlier calm acknowledgments of his need for patience.

The second half of the season begins with the spotlight still fixed on losers. New York and the Lakers are bottom-feeders, often in comical fashion. San Antonio and Oklahoma City seem more likely to fight for the final playoff berth than the NBA finals. It increasingly appears the league will see a long-dormant team emerge in May and June. The likes of Washington’s John Wall, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, and others have ushered in a new group of young, competitive teams.

On the dark side of the box score, though, Lin, LeBron, and others are learning to keep grinding with patience and joy, even while losing. “When I focus on who God is and how much He loves me,” said Lin, “I am able to live with joy and freedom from life’s pressures or the results of basketball games.”

Your match in Row T

Does speed dating boost sagging attendance? The NBA’s Eastern Conference–leading Atlanta Hawks hoped so. On Jan. 7, Philips Arena hosted a “Swipe Right Night” with the mobile dating/tryst app Tinder. Users of the app “swipe right” if they like a person’s picture. If that person does the same, they can chat. Users swipe left for “undesirables,” which helped brand arena security the “Swipe Left Patrol.” Fans met in designated areas, watching their phones while the Hawks beat Memphis 96-86. —A.B.

Dolphin swimmer

Former Miami Dolphin Rob Konrad may have swum more than nine miles over 16 hours in the ocean. The retired fullback sailed from the Palm Beach area midday Jan. 7 and stumbled onto land the next morning suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. Konrad, 36, says his boat was on autopilot when he hooked a fish that pulled him into choppy waters without a life vest. Playing NFL football likely saved his life, as he strained most known limits of the human body in water. He said he gained confidence while swimming: “Five or six hours in I realized, ‘Maybe I can do this.’” —A.B.


Andrew Branch Andrew is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.

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