Category Archives: NBA

Kevin Love is Traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA got a lot more interesting after a big trade earlier this morning. The Minnesota Timberwolves sent All-Star Power Forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in an exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 1st-round pick. It looks like the Cavaliers are looking to win now rather than try to build a franchise team by trading away two of their first overall picks. Wiggins was this year’s first overall pick and was looking to be an apprentice under the mentorship of King James. However, LeBron James is looking for another ring, meaning that Wiggins is out of the picture. Wiggins will have a lot of fun developing with Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, who is rising as a dynamic play-maker in the NBA.

As for Anthony Bennett, he looked like a bust last year so his departure wasn’t much of a surprise. It looks like the Cavaliers do not have the patience to watch him develop into a great player. Now this guy will definitely get a shot in Minnesota, seeing that Kevin Love was their only talented big man on the roster.

Speaking of Love, he will enjoy great success in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have an established backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Their small forward position is firmly in place with the return of King James and with the “Lovely” trade they made with the T-Wolves, their front court is taken care of. This blockbuster trade must have every team in the Eastern Conference shaking in their Air Jordans. With three All-Stars on one team (Irving, James and Love) it’s the Big Three all over again. This time it’s up north. LeBron will be a happy man moving forward into this season and Wiggins will have the opportunity to prove to everyone that he’s a superstar in Minnesota without having to stand in the shadow of a future Hall-of-Famer.

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Paul George Injury Leaves Questions in Eastern Conference

After Paul George suffered that devastating leg injury that will keep him out for next season, the Indiana Pacers lost a valuable member of their squad. Without George, there is little hope for the Pacers’ title hopes in 2015. Although this may not take them out of the postseason just yet, let’s look at some threatening teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a favorite simply because they have LeBron James. Not only that, but they also have an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving and a future superstar in Andrew Wiggins. However, their front court could be their ultimate downfall. The main reason why James was so successful in Miami was because he had Chris Bosh pulling in rebounds and giving him extra chances. Last year’s number one draft pick Anthony Bennett was a huge disappointment, but he is the best option for next season’s starting forward position. For center, they have Anderson Varejao and Brendan Haywood, but they are old veterans that can be reliable in all 82 games next season. Tristan Thompson would make a good fit at the power forward spot and Dion Waiters will make a great back-court player that could compliment both Irving and James. It’s mostly wait-and-see at this point for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James' return to Cleveland gives the Cavaliers the best chance for a title run next year. Credit: www.cleveland.com
LeBron James’ return to Cleveland gives the Cavaliers the best chance for a title run next year.
Credit: http://www.cleveland.com

The Chicago Bulls look to be the favorite in the East as well. They have an established coaching staff that knows how to win with low-caliber players, but this year, they get Derrick Rose back…again. If Rose can stay healthy, this Bulls team will be Cleveland’s main competition in the Central Division. They signed Pau Gasol in free agency and landed Doug McDermott in the NBA Draft. All of the pieces are there with Joakim Noah coming off a terrific year, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Guys like Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Ronnie Brewer will also aid Rose in chasing that elusive NBA Finals, somewhere they haven’t been since Michael Jordan led the way many years ago.

Derrick Rose looks for a breakout year. The last time he played a full season, he won the MVP averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Credit: pagesix.com
Derrick Rose looks for a breakout year. The last time he played a full season, he won the MVP averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Credit: pagesix.com

With the Pacers, Cavaliers and Bulls fighting for the Central Division, let’s take a look at some other potentially threatening teams in the East. The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors will be battling for the Atlantic Division. Carmelo Anthony’s decision to return to New York will definitely give them a chance. Phil Jackson looks to make this team a consistent winner in the East and will have to go through the upstart Raptors in order to get there. The Raptors finished last season with the 3-seed in the East with a surprising 48-34 record. They did better than the Brooklyn Nets who landed a tight 44-38 finish. Coach Lionel Hollins will try to make his new Nets team a title contender this year. If he can’t get them that good in a short amount of time, the Knicks and Raptors will dominate this division.

The two most surprising teams last year were the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats. Both finished with more than 42 wins, which is saying a lot for both of these franchises. The back-court combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal will definitely keep the Wizards in the championship race, but their front court will have to play consistently well in order to compete in the division. The Bobcats are now back to being called the Hornets and hopefully this rejuvenated team will make more surprises this year. With the Miami Heat losing some firepower because of the whole Decision 2.0 fiasco, the Southeast Division is wide open for the taking. Even the Atlanta Hawks are contenders after making the playoffs last year with a losing record. You can never count out everyone  in that division. Unless you’re the Orlando Magic.

The Eastern Conference will definitely be more interesting this year and a lot more competitive. Unfortunately for the Pacers, their chance at a title shot is dampened with the George injury. Hopefully they can learn some lessons from Chicago on how to make the playoffs without your superstar player.

Lord of the Two Rings: Return of the King

It’s official! LeBron James has decided to go back to his hometown and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A contract has not been presented yet, but James will probably get a max deal, making him the highest paid basketball player in the NBA. As for Chris Bosh, he will remain loyal with the Miami Heat and keep his talents in South Beach where he will just landed a 5-year deal worth over $116 million. Dwyane Wade is also a free agent and is probably going to stay in Miami as well. However, the Chicago Bulls have made a push to bring Wade back to his hometown. Everything will start falling into place once Carmelo Anthony makes up his mind on where he wants to play. He has narrowed his choices down to Chicago and staying in New York. Anthony is leaning towards the Knicks, but if Chicago is still a great place for Anthony to land. He will play for a championship-caliber team with a All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose and NBA-Defensive-Player-of-the-Year winner Joakim Noah. If the Bulls sign Wade, that could also attract Anthony to move west.

Now back to LeBron. James is the franchise-leader in points, free-throws made, and steals. He just needs to make 32 three-pointers and he will have the franchise record for that as well. He will also have the opportunity to play with something he has never had in his NBA career: a really talented All-Star point guard. Kyrie Irving has emerged as the leader of the Cavaliers since James left town. Now James won’t have the pressure to carry the team on his back like he did back when he first played with Cleveland. Irving will provide that All-Star power and the play-making ability to compliment James’ style. Not only that, but James will also get to play with rookie sensation Andrew Wiggins. The first-overall pick in this year’s draft will learn from LeBron up close and personal. It’s likely that the two players will share a bond on the court that will help develop the young star into one of the best rookies in the league. James will serve as a mentor for the young Wiggins, but he’ll do more than mentor him; he’ll show him how it’s done.

I think everyone in Cleveland now forgives LeBron for The Decision back in 2010 and now Cavaliers’ fans will have something to cheer about this season. Home games are going to be sold out, jerseys are going to be dug out of the trash can and Johnny Football will be closer to his new friend. The Heisman-winning quarterback will be playing for the Cleveland Browns this year and Manziel will definitely bring some excitement to the city. With both him and LeBron, a little hope has been poured into Cleveland. Now we’ll wait and see if LeBron can bring a title to his hometown.

Spurs Beat Heat in NBA Finals

The San Antonio Spurs won their 5th NBA Finals against the Miami Heat last night, winning 104-87 in Game Five. 22-year-old small forward Kawhi Leonard took home the Finals MVP Award. He is the youngest player to win the award since his teammate Tim Duncan did it back in 1999. Magic Johnson was the youngest, winning the Finals MVP his rookie year in 1980. Leonard proved to everyone that he is a force to be reckoned with for years to come. In the first two games of the series, he put up average numbers. But in Game Three, he flipped a switch and became a dominant player! In the series, Leonard averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game and shot 61 percent from the field. His best game was Game Four where he scored 20 points, racked in 14 rebounds and had three steals and three blocks. Leonard is going to be a superstar in the NBA for a very long time if he keeps playing with his aggressive style.

Tim Duncan and Coach Gregg Popovich won their 5th championship together at 38 and 65 respectively. Duncan becomes the second player in NBA history to win three championships in three different decades. John Salley was the first when he won with the Detroit Pistons in 1989, the Chicago Bulls in 1996 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000. No one is absolutely sure if Duncan is going to retire, but if he does, he’ll look back on his career with no regrets. Riding off into the sunset is the way to go in professional sports (just ask John Elway and Ray Lewis)!

As for the San Antonio team, they broke NBA Finals records with their demolition of the Heat. They now hold the Finals record for highest field goal percentage, shooting 56 percent from the field and had the best average points per game differential with +14. This was truly a great win for the Spurs franchise. Congratulations to San Antonio and better luck next time Miami!

Kawhi Leonard Lifts San Antonio Spurs in Game Three

The San Antonio Spurs took Game Three over the Miami Heat last night, winning 111-92. That gives them the series lead at 2-1. The Spurs’ first half was one of the most phenomenal performances in NBA Finals history. The offense was so team-oriented that it left the Heat disoriented at halftime. The first quarter ended with the Spurs leading 41-25, an 86 field goal percentage performance, and then at halftime, the score was 71-50. The Spurs ended up shooting 76 percent on the field in the first half, an NBA Finals record that Coach Gregg Popovich said would never happen “ever again.” San Antonio did everything better than the Heat. They had a better field goal percentage (59.4), better free-throw percentage (81.2), had more rebounds (29) and less turnovers (12).

The only thing the Heat did right was through LeBron James. The two-time champ lead his team in points (22), rebounds (5) and assists (7). Miami also did well behind the three-point line, hitting 47.6 percent. James, Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen did their part in that category, but the Heat couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole that they had put themselves in.

The biggest star of the night was 22-year-old Kawhi Leonard. He shot a career-high 29 points, had four rebounds, two assists and two steals. The last time he scored that many points was his senior year in high school! He was also the only player on the court that made double-digit field goals and he made six out of seven free-throws. Leonard was considered the X-Factor coming into this game. If he played well, the Spurs would win. Well he’s playing well and the Spurs are winning! If San Antonio wants to continue winning, Leonard will have to play his heart out every night and stay consistently aggressive on the court. Coach Popovich even called Leonard “the future of the franchise.” He’s playing like it right now.

So where exactly did Leonard come from? Well he was born in Los Angeles and attended Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. In 2009, he was named Mr. Basketball California his senior year, making him the 48th overall best prospect coming out of high school. He ended up going to San Diego State where he averaged 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds his freshman year while also shooting 45.5 percent from the field. He won the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year Award and was the conference tournament’s MVP.

Leonard came out of college his sophomore year after averaging 15.7 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. He was originally drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick, but was almost immediately traded to the Spurs. The Pacers would end up getting George Hill through that trade. Since then, Leonard has been a solid player for the Spurs, but now he’s starting to turn into a great one. Keep an eye out on him as the NBA Finals Series continues this tomorrow night.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Chris Kaman

The Los Angeles Lakers’ season is over, but one player still deserves some recognition. Chris Kaman plays center for the team and stands at 7 feet tall and weighs 265 pounds. His career started with the Los Angeles Clippers when he was selected sixth overall in the 2003 NBA Draft out of Central Michigan University. Kaman’s great-grandparents are German, but he was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a dual citizen with both the United States and Germany, allowing him to play on the German national team.

During his rookie year with the Clippers, Kaman played in all 82 games, becoming only the second rookie player in franchise history to accomplish that feat. He made the All-Star Rookie Team and was eventually named an NBA All-Star in 2010, averaging a career-high 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. In 2011, Kaman was part of the monster trade with the New Orleans Hornets to acquire Chris Paul. He had a good start with the Hornets, but his play dwindled down towards the end of the season. In 2012 he signed with the Dallas Mavericks, joining German teammate Dirk Nowitzki. Unfortunately, the Mavericks missed the playoffs that year for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Kaman signed with the Lakers in 2013 and the 32-year-old veteran remains with the team so far.

Although it may not be that public, Kaman is also a Christian. He grew up in a Christian home, being raised by Christian parents and went to a Christian high school. Kids at a young age feel pressured to become a Christian because that’s what their parents believe or their parents tell them to, but Kaman was able to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior on his own.

“Well, it started off just going to Bible classes and all that, but there was definitely a time when I realized I really wanted to do this,” Kaman said. “I don’t remember the exact moment, but I remember a period when I was probably 14 or 15, and I had to begin making the right decisions. There is a lot of peer pressure at that time in seventh and eighth grade. And I had to begin making the right decisions and just trying to live the right way. There was peer pressure to do some things that I probably shouldn’t do, but I just went the right way and chose not to.” (Credit: FCA.org)

Kaman has also been able to maintain that faith as a professional basketball player. His work with kids who have ADHD and his devotion to volunteer at basketball camps show that following Christ is something that he has personally chosen to do.

“I’ve matured so much in the last six years, so it’s a powerful thing to be in the NBA and be able to deliver a message to kids,” Kaman said.
“I do a lot of things with kids and basketball camps. And I always tell people that the hardest thing is trying to be a proper witness to people by my actions on the court, because the game is intense and fast-paced, and you’re just trying to play and be competitive. At the same time, you don’t want to say the wrong things or do the wrong things because there are people watching you.”

Kaman also has been a big contributor to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His message to kids and everyone else around him is that staying a Christian for a long time is not easy. There are times when you get spiritually tired from serving God, but Kaman reminds us to lift our spirits and be happy that we serve an Almighty God.

“I think there are times when you don’t want to do things like your devotions, or you’re tired, or whatever,” Kaman said.  “But you push yourself the same way you do with basketball on and off the court. In the off-season when you’re working hard, you’re pushing yourself to become better, and I think with Christianity, you never want to be satisfied with where you’re at. You always want to have more. And I think that the extra time spent between you and God and reading your Bible and doing your devotions, that’s going to help your relationship with Christ even more.”

NBA Finals Rematch

After a Game Six blowout and a Game Six overtime victory, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs are in the NBA Finals for a second straight year. The Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-92 last Friday behind LeBron James and his 25 points and 6 assists. The Spurs will make the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 in overtime. Tim Duncan had 19 points and 15 rebounds in the Western Conference Finals win. He had to step up his game after point guard Tony Parker went down in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He hopes to return to action in the NBA Finals, a series of games he just can’t miss.

The Thunder had a great run this year. Kevin Durant won his first MVP and Russell Westbrook played beautifully for most of the postseason. His 34 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals in the losing effort showed that he played well. However, his 7 turnovers proved otherwise. Westbrook missed a lot of big shots and took a lot of big shots, but he just could not help Durant get back to the NBA Finals.

As for the Pacers, Lance Stephenson’s unorthodox defensive methods were not enough as he just could not contain “The King.” James had his way with him and now Stephenson, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers will have to wait their turn next year after losing to the Heat three straight times in the NBA playoffs. Head Coach Frank Vogel is expected to return and hopefully his team can be more prepared for the Heat next season.

Last year, the Heat defeated the Spurs 95-88 in Game Seven on the NBA Finals to win their second straight title. This year, they are looking at a three-peat, joining the likes of Boston, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs will be looking for revenge. Duncan is hoping to win one last championship before he retires as a Hall of Famer. He has proved to be one of the best power forwards to ever play the game, but with another title at his grasp, he just can’t help but try to win one more. With Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard stepping up, this Spurs team could prove to be more trouble for the Heat than last year. This will be the series to truly determine who the best team in the NBA is. The Spurs are known to get a lot of productivity from their bench players. The Heat are going to have to do the same if they want that third straight title. Tune in this Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC to watch Game One of the NBA Finals.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka has returned from his calf injury and played great in last Sunday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs. In his first game back from injury, Ibaka had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. It just goes to show you how much of a difference he can make when he’s out on the court. This season, he averaged 15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a game. Here’s the amazing thing about that: he’s only 24 years old and has played in the NBA for four years! Ibaka is already proving that he is one of the best power forwards in the NBA. His teammates and fans have nicknamed him Serge “Iblocka” for his tremendous effort on defense. When superstars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook take over on offense, Ibaka takes over on defense and helps anchor his Oklahoma City Thunder team. But who is Serge Ibaka really? Well let’s take a look at his history.

Ibaka was born in the Republic of Congo and is the third-youngest of 18 children. Both his mother and his father played basketball for the country of Congo and it is safe to say that Ibaka has inherited their athletic gifts. He also plays for the Spanish national team and is fluent in five languages (Lingala, French, Spanish, Catalan and English). Having played on the Republic of Congo youth team, he is also one of three players to play for two national teams ( the other two are Roy Hibbert and Charlie Villanueva). In 2008, he was selected 24th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, becoming the first player from the Republic of Congo to get drafted by an NBA team. From there, he has been a dominant force on defense in the NBA. He is well known internationally as well for his role in the Olympic Games in 2012 and winning the gold medal in the FIBA European Championship in 2011 for Spain.

As for his religious beliefs, Ibaka is a Christian and began learning more about Christ ever since he moved to the United States. Recently, he’s been reading the Bible daily and having a teammate like Kevin Durant has been very beneficial to his spiritual walk. Ibaka tends to not associate with the public media and outwardly express his faith, but he is known to make a gesture to God after a big play in a game by making the cross symbol on his chest and pointing to the heavens. He can also be a great international ambassador for Christ. With him speaking five languages, he can be the ultimate missionary! He already works with UNICEF in helping child development all around the world. Ibaka has also pledged $315,000 to the “UNICEF Gets Boys and Girls in the Game” project for the renovation and expansion of two orphanages in Brazzaville, Congo. Ibaka, whose home country is the Congo, has also pledged a donation of $500 for every blocked shot he records during the 2014 NBA Playoffs. He is truly a man after God’s heart and hopes to make a difference around the world.

NBA Conference Finals are Set

Four teams punched their tickets to the NBA Conference Finals and all four teams are the top two seeds in their conference. It will truly be a test to see who the best team in the West and the East really are. First, let’s see how each team got there.

The Miami Heat were expected to make it this far, after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and finished off the Brooklyn Nets in five games. Ray Allen knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in Game 5 to advance the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 96-94 victory.  LeBron James has been a dominant force in the playoffs, averaging 30 points a game. The Heat is looking for a three-peat, but they will first have to handle the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers have struggled throughout the playoffs, and many thought they wouldn’t make it this far after their poor performance against the Washington Wizards. This team has had trouble rebounding and boxing out. Indiana had to go all the way to Game Seven with the Atlanta Hawks (a team with a losing record), but they finally ended up beating the Wizards last night 93-80 in Game Six. Roy Hibbert has not been the same player he was during the regular season. He averaged 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game and now during the postseason, he is averaging 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He has also gone three games without scoring a single point (two against the Hawks and one against the Wizards in Game One). If Hibbert can play consistently against the Heat and have games like he did in Game Two against the Wizards where he had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, then the Pacers might have a chance.

Paul George has played consistently well in the playoffs, averaging 21.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Credit: indystar.com
Paul George has played consistently well in the playoffs, averaging 21.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.
Credit: indystar.com

As for the San Antonio Spurs, the one-seed out in the West is not having too much difficulty getting to where they are now. They did have to go to Game Seven against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, but they were able to close out and move on to the Portland Trail Blazers. Against Portland, the Spurs defeated them in five games and all five wins were dominant victories. They closed out on a 104-82 blow out on the Trail Blazers last Wednesday. Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich has this team right where it needs to be and they have been playing great basketball lately. The only concern is the injury status of Tony Parker. The veteran point guard has a tight hamstring that might limit his mobility, but he says that he is ready to go. Small forward Kawhi Leonard has really stepped up for this team. He is one of the youngest players on the roster and he has made a big difference. During the regular season, Leonard averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. In the postseason, Leonard has averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. His performance is the X-Factor when the Spurs take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

Speaking of the Thunder, they have had a roller-coaster ride of a postseason. They have had the strongest playoff schedule out of any of the teams. First, they took out the Memphis Grizzlies in seven games after being down 2-1. Then they just recently beat the L.A. Clippers in Game Six 104-98, after through tough matches with them. After that win, they will advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in the last four years. Kevin Durant has arguably been the best player in the postseason, leading all players with 31.4 points a game and capping off the Game Six victory over the Clippers with an amazing performance of 39 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists. He also has six double-doubles this postseason, showing that he has been carrying this team on his back and lifting them up game after game. Teammate Russell Westbrook has been a game-changer this entire postseason. When he plays well, the Thunder win. When he doesn’t play well, they don’t win. Oklahoma City has to rely on both Durant and Westbrook to bring their best against San Antonio. While Durant has had double-doubles, Westbrook has had triple-doubles. His first one came in a losing effort against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Five on the first round of the playoffs. Then his Game Seven performance against them was historic, with 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. His best game to date was in Game Two against the L.A. Clippers where he had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. If Westbrook can play consistently well, the Thunder could go very far. They have already swept the Spurs during the regular season and have played well against them in recent years.

Kevin Durant will have to keep his scoring pace going as the MVP takes on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Credit: nba.si.com
Kevin Durant will have to keep his scoring pace going as the MVP takes on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Credit: nba.si.com

The Eastern Conference Finals will be played first on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Indiana Pacers will host the Miami Heat for the first game of the series. Then on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs will host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 9 p.m. for the first game of that series. These games are must-see NBA playoff T.V. It’s the four best teams of the NBA squaring off and you just can’t miss it!

Christian Athlete of the Week: Nenê

At birth, his name was Maybyner Rodney Hilario, but we all know him simply as Nenê. The Brazilian basketball player was originally drafted by the New York Knicks in the 1st round of the 2002 NBA Draft, but was then immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets. He began his rookie season as a bench player, but then started to ease into the starting lineup by the end of the year. Next season, as a full-time starter, he averaged 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Problems with injuries slowed his career down at Denver, but then on January 11, 2008, Nenê received some devastating news: he had testicular cancer. He was only 25 years old when doctors found the tumor and it seemed as if his NBA career was coming to a sudden stop to the power forward. He talks about going through that difficult time to The Christian Post:

I say: ‘Why? Why me? All bad dudes around, why me? I’m a good guy,'” said Nenê, according to the Post. “But God, when He want to test someone, He put this kind of test and He bless you after that. I had to prove that I can get back from cancer. From cancer!” (Credit: The Christian Post)

Nenê stayed diligent in prayer and on January 14th, 2008, he got the tumor removed at a Denver hospital. He returned to action on March 27th later that year and received a standing ovation. Even better, the Nuggets won the game by beating the Dallas Mavericks 118-105. Now, Nenê is playing for the Washington Wizards and finished the regular season with 14.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He has been a huge help for the Wizards in their playoff run. In the series win against the Chicago Bulls, Nenê averaged 17.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Currently, the Wizards are down 3-1 to the Indiana Pacers and are facing elimination. 

However, Nenê has learned how to deal with any tough situation. Growing up in Brazil, he wasn’t always so fortunate and his story is a true rags to riches kind of tale. 

“I always remember what I’ve been through to be here,” Nenê said. “I have no shoes, I have no clothes, but I was blessed. I remember my mom. She have money to buy the food or give to God like you’re supposed to, because we’re Christian. She give to God and say, ‘You know, we don’t have food today, but God is going to provide our future.'”

Whether it was cancer or poverty, Nenê learned how to trust God in difficult situations. His wife, Lauren Hilario, was also going through brain cancer around the same time that Nenê had testicular cancer. The couple have now celebrated five years of marriage and have a baby boy together. Nenê is now making more money than he could ever dream of and God has truly blessed his life. 

“I realize God, He marked me, to understand, back in the day when I diagnosed with cancer, He said, ‘You’re going to have it because you’re going to help a lot of people,'” Nenê said. “I’m not nothing without God. The things I’ve been through, I been through because He was with me. If I wasn’t, I would’ve fell on the first wall.”

Nenê understood that just because you are a good person does not mean that bad things won’t happen to you. Nenê now knows what God’s plan for him is and said he will retire before the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He said he wanted to retire earlier than most people would expect him to (around the age of 33) so he can be more involved with God is the Answer, his church in Brazil. A humble man with a humbling past, Nenê is a true role model of Christian athletes everywhere.