First, Nike gave us Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon. Then it was Penny Hardaway and Lil' Penny. Now, Nike introduces us to Blake Griffin and "Dr." Daryl Drain.
A former NBA Slam Dunk champion - made popular by those amazing dunking abilities - Griffin proves to be a great sports personality as well.
In the commercial, Griffin is hoping to participate in a pick-up basketball game, but the athletes are one player short of a pick-up game.
Insert Dr. Drain.
He's a young baller more obsessed with his swag than his game. He shares a comical exchange with Griffin.
Drain: (going third person on 'em) "Daryl Drain will go for a run."
Blake: "Daryl Drain, huh? Can you shoot?"
Drain: (looking supremely self-confident) "Can a butterfly sing?"
As the video progresses, Drain proves to the worst kind of pick-up teammate; the guy who doesn't know he's terrible. In basketball language, Drain is a scrub. Fortunately, the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers forward is there to clean up all of Drain's mess with a plethora of his signature ally-oop dunks.
What a picture of the gospel.
Dr. Drain represents us. Spiritually speaking, we're a lot like Dr. Drain. We have about as much chance of achieving a righteousness that's pleasing to God on our own as Daryl does in sinking one of those 3-point attempts. With his eyes closed. From his knees. Using a medicine ball. Aiming at a moving moving rim. You get the point.
Spiritually, we're scrubs.
But there's good news. Even for scrubs.
Jesus was both willing an able to make up where we lacked.
We need that spiritual ally-oop! Drain's awful shooting performance never hurts the team, because Griffin is able to take his shots and redeem them. That's just what Christ did for us. Jesus never sinned. To borrow a sports analogy, he batted a thousand. Spiritually speaking, he never missed. Scholars refers to Jesus' perfect life as the active obedience of Christ.
Here's where the ally-oop comes in. At the cross, He exchanges us his perfect stat line for our crummy spiritual stat line.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
We get to play for the winning team. The commercial concludes with Blake and Drain celebrating victory with a couple of cold drinks from a mobile vending truck. Drain did nothing to contribute to the win except for to get picked up by the winning team.
And Team Jesus was winning way before I got on the squad. It's just as Jonathan Edwards said.
"You contribute nothing to your salvation except for the sin that made it necessary."
Question: What is your biggest life lesson that you've seen illustrated through sports?
Chris Lassiter is a husband, father of five and Young Life leader at his former high school, Robert E. Lee in Staunton, Va. He has written for The News Leader, VIBE, Rapzilla.com, HipHopDX.com and Young Life relationships. He is the author of You're Grounded, which you can read about here.