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March 26, 2019

Does the name Lew Alcindor ring a bell? He changed his name after he began his NBA basketball career to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and that’s the way most people remember him. He had a tremendously successful career. Now retired, he played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.

He’s making news now for another reason. His collection of memorabilia from his Hall of Fame career recently brought nearly $3 million at auction. Abdul-Jabbar put 234 items (lots of memorabilia), including 4 of his 6 NBA championship rings, for sale through Goldin Auctions, with "much of the proceeds" going to his Skyhook Foundation charity that helps kids learn about science, technology, engineering, and math.

The auction ended with a total of $2,947,872.25. Unbelievable!

Abdul-Jabarr’s rings from his Los Angeles Lakers titles in the 1980s accounted for 4 of the 5 highest sales at the auction's close. The 1987 ring sold for the most, at $398,937.50, followed by his ring from 1985 ($343,700). His 1980 and 1988 rings went for $245,500 each.

A signed ball from his final regular-season NBA game in 1989 sold for $270,050. Three of Abdul-Jabbar's six MVP trophies, from 1972, 1974, and 1976, sold for more than $120,000 each.

Why is he doing this? Has he been like many athletes and other celebrities and mismanaged his wealth, spending foolishly? Far from that. He has chosen to make an investment with these riches that will far outlast him.

"When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all," wrote Abdul-Jabbar last year about why he's auctioning off valuables from his sports history.

"Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I'd rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That's a history that has no price."

Wow. That’s a man with a purposeful and powerful perspective that is life-altering. This is HUGE. He should be making big headlines with this in our stockpiling, pushing-for-more world. Kareem’s unselfish action of selling his stuff to benefit others, specifically children sounds like Jesus. But Jesus went beyond history into eternity with the ripples of that kind of investment. Jesus taught, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (Luke 16:9).

Do you know what he is doing? He is creating stories with his stuff. Instead of it sitting on a shelf, those items are providing the resources for stories of new life, new opportunities, and new directions for many, many children and young people.

So here’s the question for us who claim to be followers of the One who gave up everything for us?Jesus invested His all in us; He paid the price of our sins for us, conquered death, and assured us of life forever with Him. He told us that everyone spends forever somewhere, and life on this side of death is where we make the choice. He told us there is more to life than living and dying.
In light of that, think of all the stuff you have: The money in the bank, the collections, the stuff in storage, the things you’ve almost forgotten about. If you believe there’s more to life than living and dying, that everyone will spend forever somewhere, what do you have that could be better served if it were put into circulation and used to make a difference in people’s lives? Not just for this life but forever.

What story are you writing with your stuff? How about considering Kareem’s outlook? "When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing people with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all."