It was a great “knockout” by Ali!
No, I am not talking about Muhammed Ali and boxing; I am talking about Ali Forokhmanesh from Northern Iowa University and his “knockout punch” on the Kansas Jayhawks in their second round matchup in the NCAA tournament.
This was a game where the mighty Jayhawks were expected not only to win, but to win convincingly. The Jayhawks were the unanimous number 1 team in the country heading into the tournament. The Jayhawks were the overall number 1 seed of the tournament. The Northern Iowa Panthers were the winners of the Missouri Valley Conference and not expected to have a chance against the winners of the Big 12. This was a true David vs. Goliath matchup.
Yet with 37 seconds on the clock and clinging to a 1-point lead, Northern Iowa’s 6’0” guard, Ali Forokhmanesh, found himself standing wide open, ball in hand, at the three-point line. The normal thought process is to hold the ball to take time off the clock. They had the lead and plenty of time left to kill on the shot clock. But he was wide open – and shooters do one thing very well – shoot. Therefore Ali decided to let it fly and as a result he was the most celebrated player in the country this weekend. His made 3-pointer put the Jayhawks down for the count! Some have called this one of the greatest upsets in tournament history. (Yet I need to brag a bit – I had the upset predicted in the brackets I filled out.)
Ali took the shot because that is what he is trained to do. As it is he is a hero. If he would have missed everyone would have called the shot a mistake and he would have been the goat. Personally I was thrilled as he took the shot (even before I saw it go in.) He did what he knew was right with no regard to the potential negative consequences.
I think we can learn from the guts that Ali showed. In our Christian lives we need to mature to the point that we do what is right because it is right, with no regard to the potential consequences, even if it goes against the crowd or could result in us being ridiculed or persecuted. It is time we take a stand for our God!
I obviously think of David facing a seemingly insurmountable foe in Goliath. Yet this young man trusted God. I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they were getting ready to enter the fiery furnace – their response says it all. They knew God could protect them and save them, yet were also willing to die if that is what it took. The following verses in Daniel 3 say it clearly:
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
In a nutshell the boys simply set their minds to do what is right! Let it be known who you represent!