Today is Day 29 of the Omer. Hesed sheb’hod. Humility that manifests in generosity.
The best NBA player to ever wear #29 was Paul Silas. Silas was a dominant rebounder and defender who won three NBA championships. The 2x All-Star and 5x member of the All-Defensive Team, nearly averaged a double-double over his 16 year career while scoring over 11,000 points and grabbing over 12,000 rebounds.
Day 29 begins week 5 of the Omer, the week of hod. Silas embodies the aspect of hod that is known as humility. Silas played for four teams, including the Boston Celtics with whom he won two championships. The Celtics director of Media relations, Bill Bonsiewicz, described Silas as “A player who provides the intangibles – rebounding, tenacious defense, diving for loose balls, soft-spoken leadership…[He was] one of the most respected players in the NBA during his career.”
Silas’s humility, meant that he was focussed on the team and it was only natural that he went into coaching when he retired. He became a basketball lifer, coaching in the NBA for over 20 years, and serving as a head coach with four different teams.
To be honest, I’m not sure that Silas best represents hod manifesting as hesed, an unbounded loving-kindness. But only 26 players in NBA history ever wore the #29, and not one of them averaged more than Silas’s 2.1 assists/game. Silas more clearly embodied gevurah as a player and as a coach. As a player, he was strong and tough, rebounding against much taller players. As a coach, he was a tough, no-nonsense, father figure who tried to draw clear boundaries, and whose old-school approach could rub his players the wrong way. The one place where he fully embodies hesed is in his relationship with his son, Stephen. Paul gave his son the love and opportunity his father never gave him and that is a feat worth celebrating on Day 29, hesed sheb’hod.