Dwight Howard - the New NBA Commidity for Christ GetReligion: Is the NBA ready for CCB? Contemporary Christian Basketball?
The Get Religion blog is now one of my favorites, if not the favorite. Terry Mattingly and Doug LeBlanc consistently give us a succinct and interesting round-up of religious news stories and this one really grabbed my interest. It seems that those who make money off of NBA stars decided to look at the whole Kobe scandal through the marketing lens and now there is an anti-Kobe on the horizon. Dwight Howard may be this year's version of LeBron James, but (gasp!!) he is a born-again Christian who wants to use his basketball skills as a platform for sharing the gospel.
Of course we know that such things are not allowed in polite company, but rather than taking Dwight's influence out with a full-frontal assault, it looks like he is going to be neutralized in a different way. He is going to fill a marketing niche. Marketers know that there are lots of religious types out there who watch basketball and Dwight can become "a role model for this segment of the population." Ah yes, good ol' American pluralism at work, with a little marketing savvy thrown in. We'll accept the Christian kid but we'll section his influence off to the religious side of the population.
You can defeat Christian influence in one of two ways - through persecution or popularity. Although the marketing gurus will insist they are not attacking Dwight's faith, they will effectively neutralize his influence by turning him into just another salesperson. They don't want to worship his God, they want to use him to further their worship of the god of mammon.
What worries me the most is the quote from the president of the Pro Basketball Fellowship -
I would hope that Dwight's beliefs wouldn't hurt his chances to market products," Terry said. "I would think that marketers would want to embrace someone with such values.I'm thinking that if I am some type of spiritual advisor to him I would be more worried about how marketing products for the NBA, Nike, et al, will hurt his chances at living a consistent Christian life and being the witness he wants to be.
Thanks Dwight, for your boldness in witnessing for Jesus, but please be aware of the snake pit you are walking into. Let us pray for Dwight, that his faith can survive his fame. And please, let's don't have a bunch of Christians rushing out to buy a "Passion of Dwight" bobblehead doll, or the new Nike Dwight Howard signature "walk and dunk on water" sneakers.