Sep 9, 2008

Dreams come true as Houston visits LU

by Jake Petersen

Throughout the course of his 12-year NBA career, former New York Knicks shooting guard Allan Houston could be seen as a model of consistency. Just look at the numbers: 17.3 points per game, 40 percent shooter from behind the arc, 44 percent from the field, 86 percent free throw shooter, and an Olympic gold medalist. During the late 1990s, Allan Houston was the face of my beloved Knickerbockers.

I remember him wriggling free from Miami Heat guard Dan Majerle in Game 5 of the 1999 first round playoffs and hoisting up a running, one-handed prayer from the foul line.

I remember as if it were yesterday, jumping off my couch and screaming with my Pops as the ball bounced off the front of the rim and fell through the net with 0.8 seconds left.

I remember going outside and replaying situations out on my court, each time pretending to be my favorite player, Allan Houston of course, and as they did that day in Miami, the Knicks would always win on my court.

So when I found out my favorite player would be speaking in convocation last week, I jumped at the opportunity to meet him.
I wanted to find out more about the real Allan Houston who has a real family, real kids and is a real follower of Jesus Christ. As much as I miss watching Houston nail jumper after jumper (and the days when the Knicks actually won games), I know he is doing big things off the court by impacting the world for Christ.

It was on Friday morning over a couple of bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios and some French toast that I discussed with Houston topics such as his faith, his family and his career.

“More now then ever, my faith is the source of everything. I base all of my decisions and everything on where God is leading me,” Houston said.

The 11th overall pick in the 1993 Draft out of Tennessee had always grown up knowing Christ. But Houston found that it was not until he hit the Big Apple that his faith really started to grow. Under the tutelage of starting point guard Charlie Ward, the two teamed up to lead team Bible studies and, most importantly, lead by example for their Knick teammates.

“Lots of guys get turned off by faith because they see that it’s not an easy life and you have to be held accountable,” Houston said. “I didn’t want to come off as somebody who was trying to be perfect or what have you … I just tried to be me.”

“As I started to understand what the word was and apply those principles, my life changed. I didn’t hang out as much. People saw me reading the Bible more, and they really started to know where I stood.”

Despite retiring from the game, Houston is still trying to make a positive impact on the streets of New York, as each year he hosts a basketball retreat known as, “Father Knows Best,” through the Allan Houston Foundation. However, the word on the street is Houston is considering making a comeback to the Knicks, which brings a smile to my face.

Although I wanted to learn more about Houston’s faith, I felt it was my duty as a Knicks fan to find out his favorite memory as a Knickerbocker. Interestingly enough, that runner against Miami was not what he remembers most.

“Definitely Game 6 (1999 Conference Finals) against Indiana, when we won to go to the Finals,” Houston said. “I went into that game knowing my daughter would be born the next day, so I was very uptight to start out. As the game went on, I got ‘in the zone’ and had a great fourth quarter.”

The heated rivalries with Indiana and Miami are long gone, and whether or not Houston suits up again with the Knicks remains to be unseen, but the impact that he has had on myself and many others will last a lifetime. Using basketball as a platform to reach the world for Christ is far greater than any play No. 20 has ever made.

“Your daily walk and how you live your life is probably more impactful than something you say. I try to be as consistent as possible and just be real,” Houston said.


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