Tag Archives: new york

Why Kevin Durant Should Choose the Knicks in Free Agency

So I’ve had a lot of free time during my Sabbatical, and while pondering relatively heavy topics along with the rest of the country in recent days, my mind has meandered to other (less) significant topics like NBA Free Agency.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about Kevin Durant and the team he will play for next season (and Jeremy Lin, of course, but Durant seems to carry a bit more intrigue around the country right now).

Put simply, I think Durant should choose to play for the Knicks.

Before you label me foolish or misguided, please allow me to list why he should choose the Knicks over everyone else.

1) The Knicks play in the Eastern Conference, a far more desirable Conference to play in than the West.  If Durant’s main goal is to win a championship, then it makes sense that the easiest path to the Championship goes through the East.

Of course, the Cavs are the defending champs and defeating them is no small task, but the last I checked the Western Conference still has perennial winners in the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs, the Thunder, the Clippers, and the up-and-coming T-wolves and Pelicans.  The Eastern Conference offers a far easier path to the Championship than the Western Conference – both now and in the foreseeable future.

2) Of the 3 Eastern Conference Teams that Durant will meet with – Boston, Miami, and the Knicks – the Knicks have the best supporting cast.  I know, this is arguable, especially since both the Celtics and Heat performed far better than the Knicks last year (almost everyone performed better than the Knicks, btw).

However, the trade for Rose changes everything.  I should clarify – the trade for Rose in his contract year changes everything.

I know Bulls fans might be skeptical of Rose’s ability to stay healthy, but if he is healthy, the trio of Rose (contract year, 27 years-old, transcendent talent if he’s on top of his game), Porzingis (potentially transcendent player who’s only 21?!?!), and Melo (transcendent talent whom I hope is not past his prime).

Moreover, if Rose doesn’t work out, Durant can recruit Westbrook to come play in New York next year.

Which of the other Eastern Conference teams can offer this kind of combination of youth/talent?  Boston has youth but they’re not quite as talented, and Miami has talent but they’re not quite as young (even Whiteside seems uncertain that he’ll stay).

Moreover, this is NEW YORK CITY we’re talking about.

Winning ONE championship in New York would mean more than winning multiple championships anywhere else.

I know, this makes NO sense to non-New Yorkers.

But ANYONE who’s lived in NYC knows what I’m talking about, and knows that it’s true.

3) Why Durant shouldn’t join any of the other Western Conference Teams 

  • The Clippers – I’m surprised they got a meeting.  I don’t think they have the talent/youth to make a case for being a perennial winner, especially in the Western Conference.
  • The Warriors – As good a thing as the Warriors have going on, I can’t imagine that Durant would join a historically great team to chase a ring.  I know people dogged Lebron for ring-chasing by joining the Heat, but there’s no way that can compare to Durant joining a 73-win team as a free agent.  Granted, I think Steph is awesome and is one of the most humble superstars whom anyone would love to play with, but yeah, I just can’t see Durant joining them because it would be almost too easy.
    • Sidenote: In addition, it must be SO awkward right now on the Olympic Team.  With Klay, Draymond, and Barnes playing on the squad (along with Durant), how weird must it be for them knowing that if Durant comes, Barnes has to go.  While Melo can be unabashed in his wooing of KD, Klay and Draymond must understandably walk a fine line when talking about Durant, especially if they’re pals with Barnes, which the team chemistry on GSW seems to indicate.
  • The Spurs – I don’t think Durant can choose the Spurs over OKC, especially after OKC beat them in the playoffs this year.  I’m sure any consideration of the Spurs would stop when Westbrook gets in Durant’s ear and says, “How can you join them after we beat them in 6?!”
  • The Thunder – I seriously think it’s going to come down to the Thunder or the Knicks, especially after the Ibaka-Oladipo trade last week.  Seriously, the Thunder are loaded with Oladipo/Sabonis, and with Adams’ emergence, I think the Thunder are going to have some major swag heading into next season if their full team comes back. The only thing that makes OKC less desirable is…
    • Familiarity Breeds Boredom – I wonder if KD wants to feel what it’s like to play somewhere else.  I think Lebron had a little bit of this when he joined Miami.  I think we all do.  The grass can seem greener somewhere else.
    • Westbrook’s Team Now? – I wonder if KD would like to go to a team where he’s the clear go-to guy.  I think his friendship with Russell is real, but yeah, I’m wondering if KD would like to go somewhere where he’s clearly the #1 option. Sidenote: This is also what makes the GSW jump less likely.  I think it’d be personal if Durant leaves Westbrook to play with Curry.  This might be reading too much into it, but yeah, since Russ & KD are boys, I think Westbrook would be hurt/angered if Durant went to GSW, and I think Durant would also feel disloyal if he were to do that to Russ.  Uh, this is obviously total conjecture because I know neither Russ nor KD personally.
    • How important is it for Durant to play in the Eastern Conference?  Again, if this matters to KD – which I think it should – then I think KD should choose the Knicks.

One super-random wild card in all this is that KD considers Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong NY, his good friend and pastor.  I love it.

Carl, let’s make this happen.

So there you have it.

KD, become a legend in NYC.


Why I’m Thankful for Redeemer Presbyterian Church

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for awhile, but it seems most appropriate to write this following a weekend in which Redeemer Presbyterian Church celebrated its 25th anniversary.

As someone who has lived in NYC since 2001 (and first visited Redeemer in 2000), it’s been really cool to get a first-hand look at how Redeemer has impacted our city and world for 13 of those 25 years.

Much has been said of Redeemer’s influence over the years, and I thought I’d write my own list of things I’m grateful for from the perspective of a pastor/church planter in NYC.

1. I’m thankful for the ways Redeemer has resourced, blessed, and celebrated other churches in NYC – I sat down with a friend of mine in the Bay Area a few months ago, and he mentioned that the pastors in NYC all seem to know each other, which was odd to him.

But more than that, he mentioned that the pastors seem to speak highly of each other.

He asked me why this was the case, and I was taken aback by the question because I thought that’s how all cities worked together.  He assured me that this isn’t the case in other cities.

Much of this unity can be attributed to the tireless and prayerful work of Mac Pier, Concerts of Prayer, and the NYC Leadership Center, and I think that Redeemer embodies this so well.

This general positivity toward other churches has filtered down to all the church plants that Redeemer has had a hand in resourcing, and it’s truly a joy to see church planters/pastors celebrating the work of all churches around the city.

As a church planter I can’t articulate how beneficial this is.  Redeemer really does embrace the idea that it takes a movement (and many churches working together) to bless a city, and I’ve been greatly resourced by the folks at Redeemer City to City (Robert Guerrero & Mark Reynolds & their team come to mind most readily) and Redeemer without them asking for anything from me.

Love it.

Sounds like grace to me.

2) I’m thankful for Redeemer’s theological vision for all-encompassing urban renewal – Back in 2000 when I stayed in NYC for the entire summer, I was extremely refreshed to witness a church that had a vision for serving the needs of the disadvantaged in the city (Hope for New York), as well as the wealthy upwardly mobile class (Center for Faith and Work – although this center speaks to all classes).

Back in 2000, when people referred to “Urban Ministry”, I’m pretty sure people were referring to the ‘hood.

This makes sense because in 2000, cities were just in the beginning stages of becoming attractive areas again, so most of the models of urban ministry had to do with working with the least of these while so many had fled the cities.

Fast forward to 2014, and Williamsburg is now Williamsburg.

Redeemer has really introduced a new way of thinking about “urban” ministry as including service to the disadvantaged and service to “Center City” folks (I believe Tim is the one who first used the term “Center City” when referring to the large upwardly mobile urbanites that now largely inhabit spaces like Manhattan).

3) I’m thankful for Mike Keller – Mike currently leads City Campus Ministry in NYC, and he’s also a PCA Pastor who preaches at Redeemer from time to time. Mike grew up at Redeemer.

The I first met Mike in 2001 on a car ride to Nyack College.

We’ve been friends ever since.

Mike truly lives out what’s outlined above.

Not only does Mike LOVE this city, but he’s extremely supportive and generous toward other churches and works in the city.

He’s someone who thinks deeply about people in every sphere of society, and he has this unpretentious way about him that allows him to connect with people from various diverse backgrounds.

I love the guy, and I love watching the guy do ministry (especially when he has no shame playing basketball on asphalt courts while being good for 25 fouls/game).

He married up with Sara, too. 🙂  It’s really neat to see how much they BOTH love this city and want to see it flourish.

It makes sense that Mike and Sara possess so much of Redeeemer’s DNA, and they’re first-class people that I’m proud to know.


As a church planter, I would not be where I am without Redeemer.

As a church, we would not be where we are without Redeemer.

Thanks for the ways you’ve impacted all of us, Redeemer.


We’re Launching A New Church in Midtown Manhattan

Hope Midtown Launches October 2014

I’m really excited to announce that Hope Church NYC will be planting our third church in Midtown Manhattan in October 2014.

It’s hard to believe that in September 2012, we launched this church not knowing what to expect, especially with the challenges of starting anything new in a city like New York.

We hoped to become a movement of diverse, small/medium sized neighborhood churches where God could move throughout faith communities, and 20 months later, we’ve been able to start two growing churches (Hope Church Astoria & Hope Church Roosevelt Island) in remarkably diverse contexts.

Of course, we’ve had our challenges too, but in many ways those challenges have allowed us to press deeper into trusting that God is doing the work, while we’re along for the ride.

For the past year and a half we’ve had a group of folks journeying together in Manhattan, and this crew is now preparing to help us launch this church in the Fall.

I will be leading this new venture along with James Chi (you’ll hear more about James soon) and a host of awesome people that comprise our Midtown Community.

In addition, Craig Okpala will be overseeing the worship experience in Midtown while still being significantly engaged in Astoria.

I will also remain significantly engaged in Astoria (I’ll still be attending and preaching at Hope Astoria regularly, for the most part) as Hope Midtown will gather in the evening.

One of the clearest ways this has all been possible has been because of the standout leadership of people like Kristian Hernandez (Hope Astoria & Preaching Team Lead – Kris will be a regular preacher in Midtown), Dan & Amanda Sadlier (Hope Roosevelt Island), and our Transitional Leadership Team (Darryl Romano, Christine Okpala, & Tony Thottukadavil), and a stellar staff team at our churches.

They, along with so many of our leaders, volunteers, and attenders – have been a joy to serve alongside.

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my wife Tina is as supportive of this as she’s ever been.

I’m excited about all that God is doing in NYC, and I’m so glad to be along for the ride.

Hope Midtown has begun meeting weekly on Friday Nights in Manhattan as we prepare to launch in October, 2014.  If you’d like to find out more or if you’d like to get involved, you can email me at drew@hopechurchnyc.org.    

Some Pastors/Leaders You Should Get to Know

There are tons of great pastors/leaders that you should know, and I really appreciated this blog by Donald Miller about why pastors are important.

I wanted to introduce you to three relatively new Pastors/Leaders at Hope (they’ve been around since the summer), three of whom have made a significant impact in our community already.

Many of you have already met these folks, but I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce them on my blog.

1. Kristian Hernandez – Kristian is a good friend whom I’ve known since 2006, and he’s one of the warmest, funniest, preach-like-nobody’s-business pastors I know.  We were so blessed to have the great folks at Resurrection Churchbless Kristian and his family to join our church plant, and he’s done an amazing job preaching, pastoring, and leading in our community.

Find out more about Kristian here:

2.  Dan & Amanda Sadlier – Simply put, the Sadliers are awesome.  I love this family.

Dan is leading Hope Roosevelt Island, a new church on Roosevelt Island that I’m absolutely giddy about, and he’s added so much in terms of leadership, strategic missional thinking, wisdom, and fabulous teaching/preaching.

Amanda is leading our Hope Tots/Kids Environments, and she’s done a phenomenal job with them.  Amanda is a catalytic leader who Joseph Longarino described by saying, “she could be president.”  She’s really a stellar leader as well.

On top of it all, the Sadliers have five great kids.  Meet them all below.

New York City is blessed to have pastors/leaders like these folks!

Personal Reflections After One Year @ Hope

If you haven’t heard by now, Hope turned One a few weeks ago (September 22), and it’s been a milestone for us as a church.

I’ve shared some personal reflections (and lessons) I’ve learned as a church planter before here, here, & here, but I thought I’d add to the list now that we’ve made it through one year.

1.  “Leadership is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand.” – John Ortberg

I’ve been in vocational ministry for just about 12 years now, and never before has my leadership (particularly its flaws) been under as intense a microscope as it has been during church planting.

Seriously, the folks at Hope have been super gracious, and I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people (some more than others, unfortunately) – hopefully it continues to be at a rate that people can stand.

2.  “In Ministry You’re Going to Disappoint Someone, Try Not to Make it Your Family” – Lynn Hybels

Ah yes, ministry is full of disappointing people, and it’s hardest when the ones we disappoint are our spouses and kids.

I’ve been very mindful of this during this season, and I’ve tried my best not to disappoint Tina and David too much.

We regularly practice Sabbath, and we take frequent trips outside the city as well.*  This has really helped us maintain a sane pace in this church planting endeavor.

Obviously, I fail more than I’d like to admit, but it’s good to keep this statement as a compass for us moving forward in church planting and vocational ministry in general.

Feel free to ask Tina how it’s going, and if you ask David, he’ll probably tell you that he wants to watch Nemo.

While you’re at it, register for this conference to help lead from a healthy marriage and inner life.

*The caveat here is that regular Sabbaths and vacations have only been possible because 1) We have an awesome team.  Seriously, these folks can easily lead and shepherd without me, and it’s been unbelievable working with a dream team.  2) We have the been blessed with resources to go away.  I’m not going to pretend that resources don’t matter when it comes to vacations/development/pulpit-supply for pastors, and I’m a big advocate for pastors being funded. 

We can talk more about this but I realize there are many out there who have neither a team nor resources yet, and that’s where networks and denominations like ours can be so helpful.  

3.  I’m More Mindful of the Question “Should We Do This?” rather than “Can We Do This?” 

I think for any entrepreneurial endeavor, it’s easy to dream about endless possibilities without taking into account reality.

In the entrepreneurial endeavor of church planting, I think it’s easy to dream about endless possibilities without the very fuel that runs it all – the Spirit.

This is where prayer is so important… specifically, the following prayer:

“Your Will Be Done, Your Kingdom Come.”

4.  In Any Missional Church, a Balance of Risk and Safety is Needed. 

If there’s too much risk, then people get burned out, community and quality suffers, etc.

If there’s too much safety then there’s little movement and vitality, and an insulated culture is created.

I believe Jesus modeled this for us, too, but that’s worth another blog post.

Hopefully we continually find ourselves between these two extremes.

5.  As Somewhat of a Careful Planner, I’m Consistently Surprised By How Things Turn Out Differently Than I Envisioned, and Yet Sorta Similar.

This definitely reminds me Who’s in Control.   

5.  I Was Made For This.

I can’t believe I get to do this.  It’s such an honor to exercise faith in this way!

I recall all my fears about church planting, and I realize I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

As a result, I am so unbelievably thankful to everyone who’s supported us on this journey.  It’s been such a thrilling ride, and despite going through some of the hardest times of my life, it’s been so reassuring seeing how God has orchestrated it all.

Jeremy Lin, Race, and Proving Oneself

I posted a few days ago that I preferred for Jeremy Lin to play on the Rockets.

With that said, I was shocked to see the Knicks decline to match the offer.

I think what’s been so shocking to me is the recent analysis from some Knicks fans and other pundits (Stephen A Smith and Frank Isola come to mind) who have dismissed Lin’s ability, competitive spirit, and motivation (money).

Doubting Lin’s longevity, I can understand.

Doubting Lin’s consistency over 82 games and playoffs, I can understand.

But please don’t tell me the kid can’t play (can’t go left, questionable jumper, turnover prone, etc), lacks heart, and is driven by money. 

It’s baffling to me when people ignore the data.  Lin played well last year.  He had one bad game against the Heat, and consider it was only one bad game with every team gunning for him.

The data shows that Lin is a better player than Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd right now.

Listen, even I was a doubter of Lin.  Coming into the league, I thought at best he would be a solid backup for the right team.  I likened his game to Kyle Lowry (former point guard of the Rockets, ironically enough) when he first came into the NBA.  I would have been thrilled if Lin just got regular minutes on a team.

But this past year, Lin continued to prove me wrong.  He proved everybody wrong.  Time and again, Lin showed he’s a high caliber player in the NBA, capable of being elite and even carrying a team at times as the lead guard.

For 26 games, Lin was a terrific rookie (practically speaking) point guard last year.

We call some guys can’t-miss after 25 college gms. But 25 starts vs NBA comp. proves nothing? Y consider #Lin fraudulent, not promising?

Of course, I needed to confirm whether Lin’s play was all hype with no substance. So what did I do?  I looked at the data.

And the data is that Lin really did play well and elevate the performance of his team and teammates.

When it comes to money, Lin wasn’t the one who went fishing for more money from the Rockets – it was the Rockets who pursued Lin with a bigger deal.  To suggest that Lin was devious in upping the salary is silly considering it was the Knicks who publicly laid out their cards too early, thereby giving a chance for the Rockets to up their offer even further.

I did not expect such a strong smear campaign to come from “reliable Knicks sources”.


As an Asian-American, I’ll admit that the criticism toward Lin has stung a bit more.

As odd as this may sound, the Lin bashing felt personal, as if people were pushing around my kid brother.

Even though I wanted Lin to go to the Rockets, I’m actually disappointed at the Knicks and some of the media.

I’m mad enough that I was tempted to write a blog post in comic sans font claiming that Jeremy Lin would win a championship before the Knicks do.

Alas, I don’t know how to switch to comic sans on this blog.

It’s hard for me to believe that race isn’t involved in the critique of Lin’s game or his motives, especially when people ignore the data or choose to believe unnamed sources after Jeremy himself has come out and described the free agency process for himself.

So far, no Knicks source has come forward to claim the truth about how the negotiations went down.

So the smear campaign has begun.


Whether it’s true or not that Lin’s game and motives have been dismissed because of his race, I realize this is the burden of being a minority in this country – the haunting suspicion that a slight or critique is due to one’s race.

The African-American community certainly feels this more acutely when there are slights (which many of us are so unaware of), but I think it’s also common for any minority.

It’s hard NOT to be sensitive and reactive to perceived slights.

But what’s harder, perhaps, is to receive those slights, push them away with firm yet gracious hands, and then go gang busters in proving the naysayers wrong.

At the end of the day, that’s probably the best that we can do when we are slighted, though.

We can either get too angry or get too soft, but somewhere in the middle is the way of redemption, the way of the cross and resurrection.

And so we absorb the criticism, maintain our identity as one whose Center is true, share our perspective in non-reactive ways, and then prove naysayers wrong with furious truth and love.

This is how redemption comes, I believe.

Furious truth and love… … in this case, on the basketball court.

Jeremy, I’m still rooting for you as hard as ever.

Thoughts on Jeremy Lin’s Free Agency

I’ve decided to end my blog silence with a topic that’s been pressing on my heart – Jeremy Lin’s free agency.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d love to see Jeremy Lin on the Rockets

Yes, I have a newborn in the home as well as a new church plant to deal with, but this is what I choose to write about.  Clearly, I still have Linsanity.

Anyhow, what I’m about to write might go against popular opinion in New York, and it actually pains me to admit what I’m about to say.

But alas, I must admit, as a pure Jeremy Lin basketball fan, I think Lin should go to the Rockets.

Before I go into why, you should probably know that 1) I personally would like for Lin to stay in NYC and come to Hope Church NYC, 2) I am unabashedly only a Knicks fan insofar as Lin is on the team, and 3) I am not a Rockets fan in particular (for anyone wondering, my team is the LA Clippers).

With all that said, I think Lin should go to the Rockets, and here’s why:

1.  Lin thrived as the lead player during Linsanity – and so did the Knicks.  The numbers don’t lie.  Sure, they may have played weaker opponents, but Lin still played exceptionally well against playoff caliber teams (Lakers, Jazz, Mavs) and players (Deron Williams) while playing with equally anonymous players (Novak, Shumpert, Jeffries – Chandler being the only exception).

The Knicks were 8-1 when Lin played the role of lead playmaker until Melo returned in a loss to the New Jersey Nets.

The last game in which the Knicks were “Lin’s team” was when he lit up Dallas for 28 points and 14 assists.

In those nine games with Lin as the lead guard, he averaged 25 pts/game and 9.2 assists/game.

Plus, anyone who followed the Knicks run during that time period could see there was an obvious enthusiasm on the team and a raised level of play.

Lin never had an opportunity to be the lead player for the Knicks after Melo returned.  I’m trying to state this without being biased here…

2.  With Melo and Stat around and with Woodson coaching, we will likely never see Lin in a lead role again.  

There are a lot of folks talking about how overrated Lin is and how his play tailed off as the season progressed.

Lin’s numbers did regress, as did the Knicks’ stats as a whole, but I’d argue that it was because of the changing dynamics on the team that demanded that Lin change his game, NOT because Lin isn’t capable of leading a ball club.

Now, I say this as a completely biased Lin fanatic – in my opinion, Lin was not the main reason for the drop-off in performance by the Knicks.

Lin had to change his game to accommodate Melo, Stat, and eventually Mike Woodson.

I think I can speak for millions of Lin fans (and a few Knicks fans) out there when I say that I wish I could have seen how far Lin could have taken the team as the lead player.

“There’s no way he’s Melo!  There’s no way he’s an elite guard!  Lin got exposed against Miami!”

You might say all of these things, but the sad thing is, we never had a chance to see if Lin could be an elite lead guard.

His game had to change when Melo and Stat came back, and Woodson made it clear that he didn’t think too highly of Lin.

But again, the sad thing is, we never had a chance to see if Lin could be an elite lead guard after he lit up the World Champion Mavericks for 28 and 14.     

3.  I want to see how well Jeremy can do as a lead player for the whole season.  As a huge Jeremy Lin fan who reveled in the euphoria of Linsanity, I need to see how Lin can do when given the chance to be a lead player for an entire season.

I know there are a bunch of people out there who claim Lin is overrated, but the ONLY data we have of Lin as a lead guard is the 8-1 streak they were on.

This website is super helpful when talking about Lin’s impressive statistics and how anyone who discounts his accomplishments are not looking at the data (perhaps they’re looking more at his race?).

I’m convinced that Lin can never be the same player he was for the Knicks when Melo and Stat were out because Melo, Stat, and Woodson will not allow him to be.  I’m sure anyone who watches the Knicks will agree with me that Lin’s game clearly changed when Melo and Stat came back, and then even more when Woodson became the head coach.

The Rockets, however, just might allow Lin the opportunity to be the lead player for their team, and that excites me.

Seeing this possibility excites me more than all the positives of Jeremy staying in NYC (being a global icon, watching him play regularly, having Jeremy come to Hope, etc).

I want to see Jeremy flourish as a player, and I think he has a better opportunity for that on the Rockets.

4)  And quite frankly, the current Knicks team with Melo, Stat, and Woodson leading the charge is just not as fun to watch.

You can tell me if I’m biased, but honestly, the Knicks are not a fun team to watch anymore.

Am I missing something?  Please tell me if you disagree.

I’m actually really curious to hear if anyone thinks this version of the team is as fun to watch as the no-name version during Linsanity…   

All in all, I’m sure the Knicks will match the offer, and I’ll continue to watch and root for the Knicks and Jeremy, constantly wondering what was during Linsanity and what could have been if someone had the guts to let Jeremy be Jeremy on a basketball court…

And I guarantee the Garden won’t be nearly as electric as it was back in February 2012.