ORIGINALLY POSTED Saturday, April 5, 2008.
SAN ANTONTO (BP)–Former North Carolina star Hubert Davis accepted the John Wooden Keys to Life Award at Saturday morning’s Legends of the Hardwood breakfast, giving all credit to his faith in Jesus Christ.
“I haven’t achieved anything; the only person who has achieved anything here is Jesus,” Davis, now an ESPN commentator, said to a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,500 in San Antonio at the 13th annual event sponsored by Athletes in Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, hours before the Final Four semifinals.
“Without [Jesus], I have nothing. Without Him, I don’t have a plan and a purpose,” Davis added.
Wooden, 93, sent along his video greetings, unable to attend the sellout breakfast because of a recent hospital stay for a broken wrist from a fall.
“I congratulate Hubert on this award. I like this because it’s not just about athletic ability,” said Wooden, a devout Christian, “but about faith and personality and accountability.”
Of course Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 NCAA titles including seven in a row, wasn’t above making a prediction for this year’s Final Four.
“You know, two years ago UCLA was here and finished third. Last year they were second, so you know what’s going to happen this year, don’t you?”
Davis, who retired from the NBA after playing with the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets, described the Wooden award as an example of God’s work in action.
“It says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan for our life. It’s a guaranteed deal and the only thing we have to do to accept the guarantee is accept Jesus into your life,” Davis said.
Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith, in comments to Baptist Press, said he found God’s plan after leaving his long tenure at Kentucky and completing his first year with the Gophers.
“One year ago, I didn’t know this was God’s plan, but He drew me to this and drew other people to me,” Smith said.
“This gathering always refreshes and restores me,” Smith said of the annual breakfast. “I enjoy being here with people I have so much in common with.”
Ron Hunter, coach at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, one of the breakfast’s featured speakers, noted, “I am a college basketball coach, this is the platform God has given me and I want to seek to honor Him in all that I do.”
Hunter attracted national attention earlier this year when he coached a game without shoes in an effort to raise awareness for those overseas who grow up without ever having a pair of shoes.
“I am a vehicle for God to use,” Hunter said, “and more important than any games or any Final Four is the opportunity to raise awareness for those we can serve.”
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo, who is responsible for putting together the USA team for the 2008 Olympics, also addressed breakfast.
“China is going to be very difficult,” Colangelo acknowledged. “But I have peace in my life,” he said. “Not because of me, but because of God’s blessings in my life.”
TNT commentator Ernie Johnson, who accepted Christ into his life when he was 41, closed the breakfast by asking those in attendance to make the same decision he did 10 years ago.
“I’m not a preacher or a Bible scholar, but I love Jesus and I know there is a road block called sin in every person’s life,” Johnson said.
“You may say, ‘You don’t know what I’ve done,’ but I know what He did in my life, and today can be the day you find the right direction in your life.”
Art Stricklin is a sports correspondent for Baptist Press and director of ministry relations for Marketplace Ministries in Dallas.