Today is Day 27 of the omer. Yesod sheb’netzach. Eternal Teammates.
Netzach means eternity, and for the sixth day of the week of netzach, we celebrate someone who was willing and able to be a good teammate for eternity, #27 Jack Twyman. Twyman was a 6x All-Star and Hall of Famer, who averaged 19.2 points and 6.6 rebounds/game for his career, but he’ll always be remembered for the assist he gave to teammate, Maurice Stokes.
On March 12, 1958, Stokes fell on hard his head in the last game of the regular season. Stokes was a 6’7” do-it-all forward for the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals and a rising star in the league. In his brief, three year career he was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and a 2x All-Star who averaged 16.4 points, 17.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists/game. Sadly, Stokes head injury was not properly diagnosed and he suffered multiple seizures that left him in a coma at the age of 24, and paralyzed him.
“There was no pension or medical plan for NBA players back then, which left Stokes and his family unable to endure medical bills that would approach $100,000 a year.” To be eligible for workman’s compensation, Stokes had to stay in Cincinnati, away from his family. Even though they weren’t particularly close at the time, Twyman became his legal guardian. When asked why, Twyman said: “Maurice needed someone. I became that someone.”
For the last 12 years of Stokes life, Twyman helped care for his eternal teammate, Maurice Stokes. He helped organize an annual benefit game for Stokes, sued to get him workman’s compensation benefits, and helped him learn to communicate through blinking. When Stokes was able to type, his first words were, “Dear Jack, How can I ever thank you?” In 2013, the NBA honored their relationship by creating the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.
Today’s sefirah of yesod, is associated with the Biblical figure of Joseph, who provided for his brothers and family in Egypt, with no expectation of return. Jack Twyman embodies this selfless form of giving and willingness to provide for others on we celebrate his relationship with Maurice Stokes on Day 27.
Watch the Basketballography on Jack Twyman or grab some tissues and watch Twyman accept on behalf of Maurice Stokes as he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.