About 18,000 people are watching you work each night if you’re playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA. The Thunder in November had seven home games and eight on the road with the latter including a trip to Florida sandwiched between trips to California. And don’t forget a couple trips to Texas and a trip to Utah.
So, there’s an abundance of both visibility and travel for a player in the NBA. The Rev. A. Byron Coleman III is in his first season as a chaplain for the Thunder. He’s a busy man in his own right, not only pastoring the Fifth Street Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, but also teaching two courses per semester as an adjunct professor in the African and African American Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. However as chaplain, this pastor has not only given but gained from the experience. "I’ve gained an even greater respect for their ability to be even-keeled and levelheaded,” he said, "because I looked at their schedule before the season started, but it didn’t really make sense to me. "When I started watching Sports Center and they’re in this city one night and they fly to the next city the next night, and every night you have to perform at that caliber, people underestimate the pressure, the stress. "I highly respect that and admire them.” Coleman was no stranger to the NBA. His freshman year at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in the Chicago suburbs was the rookie season for a Chicago Bulls player out of the University of North Carolina named Michael Jordan. Coleman, who has served as pastor at 5th Street Missionary Baptist Church for 12 years, always maintained an appreciation for the game. But he wasn’t a diehard fan.