So Doris Burke upset some folks the other night when she interviewed future MVP Kevin Durant after another of his amazing performances, this one over the Miami Heat. You can view the 28-second clip here. You can see how some of my fellow Okies felt about her "disrespect" here in a nice twitter thread. This is an old discussion in some ways, but Burke finally did what many of us do in the privacy of our homes: we laugh when athletes credit God in their postgame interviews or post-touchdown rituals. Oddly enough, many believers feel the exact same way as we skeptics; it's absurd to attribute a particular performance or play or game to God's providence, as if God somehow accounts for human agency in sports contests. One can only imagine a blood-spattered God ringside at an MMA event as he gives one pseud0-gladiator the victory over another, or God in flippers swimming dolphin-like amongst water polo players, trying to avoid genitalia (uncleanness and whatnot) so as to give one side the victory.
Burke's sin was in laughing at KD when he said his performance was because of God/Jesus Christ. First, it's impossible to know what she was thinking. She might simply be a nervous laugher; it does happen. Second, she might have been just as surprised as I was to hear KD speak so explicitly about Jesus. I'm not sure he's done it in a postgame interview before, but it was certainly the first time I heard it. I would have been just as flabbergasted as Burke seemed to be. Her question, like it or not, is a fair one. "You didn't have anything to do with it?" Of course he did. He shot, he distributed the ball, he led the Thunder to a big win over Miami. Finally, I suppose if we parse this, we might get some general agreements, or at least, I'll concede that if certain things are possible, then he wasn't completely nonsensical in his assertion. If God created KD with all these amazing abilities, then it's possible that God was indeed involved in KD's amazing performance. Of course, his parents would then also be partly responsible for KD's amazing abilities. Either way, within that framework, KD's comment doesn't sound completely nonsensical.
I'm assuming Burke wasn't laughing to mock KD or his faith. She's a professional, and I've listened to her interview athletes hundreds of times. I've never seen her behave disrespectfully to any declaration of the Lord's agency in victory, however dubious the claim might have been. Seriously, consider some of the athletes who have a cozy relationship with God. Say what you want about the Tebows of the world; he at least has integrity in his faith declarations, as his off the field behavior seems above reproach. He's a walking lifestyle covenant. Put the "I'd like to thank my savior" in someone else's mouth (fill in the blank with whatever athletic douchebag first comes to mind), and it's a first-order miracle that Burke hasn't laughed before. KD, too, though, is an upstanding citizen, so it's incredibly unlikely that Burke meant to offend or mock.
People of faith would do well to take this as a lesson. Sometimes the words you use have zero coherence when juxtaposed with the reality you purport to describe. When I watch KD put up 30+ points, I don't think, "Man, that Jesus can play some fuckin' basketball." When he then gives the credit to Jesus, I laugh and shake my head, and I still think he's an amazing player; I just think he doesn't really understand human agency all that well.
By the way, yes, I'm back for now. We'll see how this goes for a while. The break was good for me. I still don't know why I want to comment on these things. You'd think teaching college would be sufficient stimulation, but I still find myself wondering some of this shit aloud, and it's really not fair to put students through that grinder.