Day 18: The Zen Master

Today is Day 18. Netzach sheb’tif’eret. Balance that leads to winning.

On Day 18, two days before Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, I’d like to give a special shout to the best NBA player ever from Israel, Omri Casspi.

But todays’ final choice came down to two 6’8”/6’9” left-handed, power forwards, who played in the 1970s. 

Player A was Rookie of the Year, league MVP, an 8x All-Star, and 2x champion, while averaging 17.6 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists over his Hall of Fame career. 

Player B made the All-Rookie team and won one NBA championship as a valuable role player. He retired with averages of 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists.

Player A was Celtics great, Dave Cowens. But on Day 18, netzach sheb’tif’eret, a day that embodies balance made manifest in victory, we are honoring Player B, Phil Jackson, who collected 11 more championships as the coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. 

When he played for the New York Knicks, Jackson learned under Red Holzman that everybody on the team should be involved and that everybody should touch the ball. He brought that belief to the Chicago Bulls and actualized it on the court through Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense. 

Yes, he had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago. Yes, he had Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in LA. But Jackson was able to harness their ability and their egos to build successful championship teams. Being able to balance the egos of some of the most talented and competitive people in the history of the sport for the sake of winning. That is what today – netzach sheb’tif’eret – is all about and nobody did that better than Phil Jackson.

Also, if you’re not watching The Last Dance already, what are you waiting for? Episode 4 which came out on 4/26, focuses on Jackson.

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