Anatomy of a Comeback

7 things we can learn from the Cavs, the Cubs and the Patriots.



Three teams. On the biggest stage in their sport. The NBA Finals. The World Series. And the Super Bowl.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3 games to 1 to the World Champion, Golden State Warriors.

The Chicago Cubs were down 3 games to 1 to the Cleveland Indians.

The New England Patriots were down 25 points in the 3rd quarter to the Atlanta Falcons.

All three of these teams pulled together and came back to win it all. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to respect ‘em. While sports and life are world’s apart in terms of significance, we can find some useful parallels in looking at the anatomy of a sports comeback.

What do you need to come back from?

Is porn winning the battle for your mind? Or perhaps you’re struggling with a marriage that has entered the Land of Suck. Maybe your jcareer trajectory has taken a dive into the deep end of a pool full of cow dung. All is not lost my friend.

Here are 7 things we can learn from the Cavs, the Cubs and the Patriots.  


1. Just because you are losing, doesn’t mean you are a loser.

Don’t let losing define you. You can lose and still be a winner. Each of these teams proved that. Invite God to create the definition of who you really are. I love the passage where the Apostle Paul writes to the church community in Rome and reminds them,

“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:31-32 NRSV)

Remind yourself everyday that God is for you. And let’s just believe for one hot minute that’s true. That kinda puts everything that is against you at a pretty serious disadvantage.


2. You don’t have to be perfect to win.

Quit trying to be perfect. It’s like opening a bag of chips and expecting the bag to be full. It isn’t going to happen. How about progress rather that perfection?

Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson said this about Terry Bradshaw, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers before Super Bowl XIII… “He [Terry Bradshaw] couldn’t spell ‘CAT’ if you spotted him the ‘C’ and the ‘T.’”  After Bradshaw went out and threw for four touchdowns, Henderson responded “I didn’t say he couldn’t play, just that he couldn’t spell.”

I have flaws. You have flaws. The secret is to get our eyes off our flaws and failures and begin focusing on our strengths. God has designed your inner Batman to overcome all of your Riddlers, Jokers and Penguins.


3. Be like Journey. Don’t stop believing.

“Funny thing,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after winning Super Bowl 51. “When we came out after halftime, “Bill Belichick [Head Coach] said to me, ‘We’ll be okay. Our guys believe. They will fight their ass off.’

There is something profound about belief. Jesus told us all things are possible to those that simply…. believe. Guard your heart against the doubt and fear that bombards all of us in a world of “can’ts” and “nevers.” Believing doesn’t mean you have everything figured out and know exactly how you are going to come back from certain death.

It just means you lean into trust. That somehow. Some way. It’s going to happen.


4. Have the courage to declare your comeback.

More than two decades ago, who could have guessed that the Cubs would win the World Series this year??

Mike Lee, that's who.

According to WGN, the then-California resident's senior quote in his 1993 high school yearbook offered a prediction that came true Wednesday, November 2, 2016, when the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians to win their first World Series since 1908.

"Chicago Cubs. 2016 World Champions," reads the quote under Lee's photo in the 1993 annual for Mission Viejo High School. "You heard it here first."


There is something powerful about declaring a comeback out of your own mouth. I mean out loud. I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken over my own life and future. Stuff like… “You are going to have the greatest comeback ever…. and… you are going to accomplish twice as much in the second half of your life as you did in the first half!”

The writer of Proverbs passes on this little wisdom pearl, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Are you using your tongue to create resurrection or a grave?


5. Do the little things.

“Respect 90.”

That was the message that was painted along the first-base line in the Cub’s spring training field. And it was the only phrase in Joe Maddon’s [Cub’s Manager] Twitter bio. In April, he explained that he was “going to make a daily push for our players to respect that distance… run hard for 90 feet to first base, and the respect will come back to you.” The phrase derives from a plane ride in which Maddon was stuck in the middle seat of the flight and heard the woman next to him say, “Whatever you put out there will come back to you.”

Often when we find ourselves immersed in failure or sin, we are looking for some miraculous way out of our mess. But the simple truth is, comebacks happen one hour, one day, one month and one year at at time.

Do the little things. Rise early. Make good choices. Read and grow. Tell your wife you love her. Make your own list… and watch the little things create something great.


6. If you have to make history, then do it.

Just because it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

No team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. In fact, only three teams out of 33 have even forced an NBA Finals Game 7 after trailing 3-1. The other two teams are the 1951 New York Knicks (against the Rochester Royals) and the 1966 Los Angeles Lakers (against the Boston Celtics). But that didn’t stop Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers from coming back and making history.

Some days I will just read through the Guinness Book of World Records and try to find something I can do that has never been done. We were created by God to be history makers.


7. Let your enemies motivate you, not master you.

Even though I am a huge Warriors fan, I have to respect what Lebron James said after winning the NBA finals last year.

"When I decided to leave Miami -- I'm not going to name any names, I can't do that -- but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career," James told just outside the Raiders' locker room. "And that s--- hurt me…. they told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation."

Not everyone will be on our side. People will question our intentions and ability to rise out of the ashes. But our job is not to fight them. Our job is to fight the real enemy… the obstacles that stand in our way and the lies running through our head that tell us it can’t be done.  

When I crashed and burned 7 years ago, I had plenty of enemies and detractors. Rightfully so. I had failed them and they deserved to be upset. Stories would get back to me about how awful everyone was saying the rest of my life was going to be…. that I would never see the light of day again.

For me, it was never about getting even. It was about proving to everyone that Jesus was still in the resurrection business.

And He is. He calling you out of the grave. Dig out of the damn dirt.

It’s time for your greatest comeback.