Run For The Prize
In Jesus Christ
Study, Work, Play, Pray
For The Glory Of God
First of all, Jesus would play joyfully. He would play joyfully, because first and foremost, basketball (or whatever the sport) is a game. It is not a life and death situation. A game re-creates a person's mind and emotion; a game is meant to help release the stress of work. Thus, Jesus would find joy in it.
Also, Jesus, who was full of the Spirit and led by the Spirit, would definitely possess the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is an element of the fruit of the Spirit. Thus, Jesus would play with joy and delight.
I could point out other Scriptures also, "Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say rejoice" (Philippians 4:4) Is this verse for every other situation than sports? I don't think so! Paul then tells us not to get anxious about anything; players often play with anxiety and fear. Instead of dwelling in anxiety, they should pray and let the peace God rule their heart. More could be said, but Jesus would play joyfully. Essentially, I was telling my son, "Have fun! Relax! Experience joy as you play and run the court!"
Secondly, Jesus would play wisely. That same Spirit which led Jesus also is called the "Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, and the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2). Jesus also calls the Holy Spirit the "Counselor" or the "Spirit of truth." Yes, sports takes wisdom. Not only do you need to know how to do the skills of each sport, you need to know when and how to apply them. You need to know what to do in each situation. And obviously in a team sport, you need to know how to do this with other members of the team. This takes much practice physically but also mentally. Jesus, with all his wisdom, would play wisely.
I often thought my son's team should meet in a room and review the plays and the defenses mentally together. You don't need a basketball court to do this.
Thirdly, Jesus would run for the prize. He would try his best. He would seek to play with excellence. I don't think it would be his competitive desire that would be guiding him, for he would not be against the opposing team. He would not have harsh thoughts about the other team. But he would aim to do his best as if he was striving for the gold medal. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). The writer of Hebrews describes how Jesus "played" like this: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3). As Jesus kept the focus on the prize, so are we to do so. We are to train ourselves strictly, so that we can overcome the opposition. We are to give it our all, just as Jesus did.
In a game I don't think Jesus would care that much about who wins or loses. I think that at the end of the game he would ask himself (and we should also): "Did I enjoy playing the game? Did I play the game with all the skill and wisdom God has given me? And, did I play it with all my energy?" Last summer and fall, I had the opportunity to play street basketball at a local basketball court. Not that I played super all the time; I didn't hit my shots well at times. But God was carrying me along. I felt joy as I ran the court or made the pass or grabbed the rebound. Sometimes I felt it was just one long God moment.
Much more could be said, but this is just a taste of how to play sports just like Jesus.