By William Wan
If you watched all the way to the end of last night’s dramatic overtime game when the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics, you would have caught this provocative statement from Magic star Dwight Howard:
“I just want to thank God…We got the win tonight. It’s all because of him. It’s nothing we did.”
It’s not the first time NBA star Howard (know to his fans as Superman) has invoked God in the course of his games. Last year, when asked why people should pick Magic to win over the Lakers, his one word answer was again “God.” (Although, it should be noted, Howard and his team ultimately lost.)
All of which prompted this philosophical question: Does God get involved in the win-loss columns of professional sports (or any sports for that matter)?
Dwight Howard, center, was everywhere his team needed him be, finishing with 32 points and 16 rebounds in the Magic’s victory. (Elsa/getty Images)
Howard’s insistent views on the issue last night generated some interesting online discussion on the topic. There’s of course the smart-alecks:
“so does this mean they cheated?”
“David Stern is gonna fine god for this.”
Then there’s the Celtic angst in response his argument: If God is for the Magic, does it mean he must be against the Celtics?
Of course, athlete’s have been invoking God, or gods, since the invention of sports. As the movie “Angels in the Outfield” points out, football players kneel after a touchdown, baseball players point to the sky after a homerun, and so on.
What do you guys think? What does it all mean?
A little more background on the whole Howard/God relationship in case you’re interested:
*According to ESPN profile: “His favorite song is a gospel hymn, ‘Praise is What I Do.’ And when someone asks for his autograph, Howard writes ‘God bless’ alongside his signature, so that he can ‘let people know that everything that they’ve gotten is because of God.’
*His pre-game routine involves a heavy dose of prayer: “After I shake hands with the guys, I go off to the end of the floor and say a prayer to get myself locked in. The reason I pray is there are so many things that could go wrong on the court and I just ask God to put some angels around me and my teammates to protect us so that nobody has a serious injury. I’ve been saying that same prayer since I got the NBA. I pray with the team before the game and I say my own prayer. I have so much to be thankful, and I just like to take that time to say thanks and ask God to watch over me.”
*Lastly, got a kick out of this funny (but admittedly irreverent) forum discussing Howard’s similar invocation of God last year against the Lakers:
“Let me get this straight: According to George Karl, Jesus couldn’t stop Kobe Bryant. According to Dwight Howard, God will help the Magic beat the Lakers. I’m guessing God plays better defense than Jesus?”
Response on the discussion board: “As a full-time Roman Catholic I can assure you the Holy Spirit is the defensive specialist.”