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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Picking Brackets and March Madness

One thing that our family has enjoyed over the years is the excitement of the college basketball tournaments.  When Everly and I were making decisions about my graduate studies in 1986, the ACC had one of its great years with Duke and Georgia Tech battling it out as two of the best teams in the country, and no slack from UNC and NC State as well.  We got hooked on the tournament that year, seeing a great Duke team lose to Louisville in the championship.  By then, we were making plans to move to Durham, and David was getting close to being born.

Living in Durham and attending Duke turned us all into basketball fans.  One of our favorite family stories comes from a time when I was still a student at Duke and Everly was a visiting clinical professor in the department of education at UNC.  One day as we were driving in the car together, Naomi did as little ones often do.  She was sorting out the world and announcing it to the rest of us.  That day, she informed us that "Daddy's school is 'Go Duke' and Mommy works at 'Beat Carolina.'"  I couldn't have been more proud of how well she learned our sentiments.  Out of the mouths of babes....

David and I spent many an evening watching Duke basketball with neighborhood families.  David gets anxious about tense situations in ball games or movies.  He still is likely to hide his face.  But as a boy, he would pull his coat over his head, run to the other room, climb the stairs, get behind the couch, and otherwise entertain us with his acting out the tension in the room.

Eventually we bought season tickets to women's basketball at Duke.  David and I went most often, but Lydia got very interested during a few years when Iciss Tillis played for Duke.  We made posters with her name, and we managed to get some autographs and meet various players.  David was a huge Alana Beard fan.

After Baylor won the national women's championship in 2005, we spread our loyalty back to Baylor, where Everly and I met and earned our bachelor's degrees.  Then, when Lydia attended Baylor and Everly was working in Texas, we added season tickets to the women's basketball games there.  Many of our happy family times and pictures from Everly's last two years came at the Baylor basketball games.
So today I'm preparing to pick my brackets for the two tournaments.  It's happy to have both Baylor and both Duke teams in the mix.  Also having some other teams we're glad to see succeeding (at least this year) like NC State, Virginia, Mercer, SF Austin, and NCCU adds to the fun.  Getting to hate UNC, Texas, Louisville, and others from the legions of evil will also make it enjoyable.

Until getting interested in Baylor basketball and living in Texas, Everly was the least fan of basketball of all of us.  She would usually wait until the Final Four weekend to pay attention.  But her new interest led her even to pick brackets last year.  Not really a basketball aficionado, she did not excel in her picks.  This year, those of us in the family who get organized enough to do our brackets in time will not be able to count on Mom's bracket to be at the bottom of our group.

We'll miss Everly and we'll miss Brittney Griner this year for the tournaments.  But having Everly with us through these recent basketball seasons makes our joyful memories of basketball past even better.  She was a sold out fan for Baylor Women's basketball, and that makes me love the game more.


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