Pope Francis on Basketball: 'Yours Is a Sport That Lifts You Up to the Heavens'

Kyle Koster
Vatican Pool/Getty Images

The NBA Playoffs are about to kick into high gear and hoopheads everywhere are savoring the high-stakes action extending deeper into the summer than usual. Bucks-Nets has all the makings of a matchup between the league's top two teams, LeBron James is down to his last strikes, and the Memphis Grizzlies are frisky enough to be a second coming of the We Believe Warriors. Excitement is global as today we learn Pope Francis loves this game as anyone featured in those iconic 90s commercials.

Catholic News Agency reports Francis had the highest praise for the sport in an address to the Italian Basketball Federation.

“I would like to say one thing with basketball in mind. Yours is a sport that lifts you up to the heavens because, as a famous former player once said, it is a sport that looks upwards, towards the basket, and so it is a real challenge for all those who are used to living with their eyes always on the ground.”

The Pope continued:

"I would also like this to be a noble task for you: to promote healthy play among children and young people, to help young people to look up, to never give up, to discover that though life is a journey made up of defeats and victories, the important thing is not to lose the desire to ‘play the game."

“And to help them understand that when in life you don’t ‘shoot a hoop,’ you haven’t lost forever. You can always get back on the court, you can still team up with others, and you can take another shot.”

So many have been saying that last part. Look around the NBA and you will find no shortage of players willing to get back on the court after repeatedly failing to shoot a hoop. They know the game is a marathon, not a sprint. And there's a loftier purpose for all of this.

These comments don't resonate as astounding, and that's quite something. Hearing the Holy See wax poetic about roundball almost feels expected. Now, if he's out with a soliloquy on the magic of Major League Baseball next week, that'd be a major story.