Today is Day 31 of the Omer. Tif’eret sheb’hod. Humility that manifests in balance.
It’s taken me a few days to wrap my mind around this week’s sefirah of hod and connect it to the world of basketball. In Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow, Rabbi Art Green writes that “Hod is the other side of wisdom, the self that bows before the mystery of what is as it is, the self who submits to reality and rejoices in doing so.”
In other words, it’s like when a basketball player is so good that he wins the Naismith Award as the best high-school player in the nation, then goes on to college and wins a national championship while becoming college player of the year, and then embraces life as a role player in the NBA.
That’s exactly what Shane Battier did. When Battier was a senior at Duke in 2001, he was the consensus college player of the year and the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four as the Duke Blue Devils won the NCAA Championship.
In the NBA, he wasn’t a bust, but he never averaged over 14.4 points or 5.4. Rebounds, or 2.8 assists/game in his career, and he hit all those numbers on a horrible Memphis Grizzlies team during his rookie year.
Instead, he became in the words of Michael Lewis, “The No-Stats All-Star.” Battier may not have been scoring or collecting hardware in the NBA, but he was impacting winning. His teams performed better when he was on the court and when he switched teams, winning followed. His willingness to pass, defend, and play efficient basketball made him the poster child for (Daryl) Moreyball and the embodiment of Day 31, tif’eret sheb’hod, a player whose humility and willingness to embrace his role leads to a winning balance for the team.
“I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together. And everything that leads to winning that you can get to through intellect instead of innate ability, Shane excels in. I’ll bet he’s in the hundredth percentile of every category.”
It didn’t result in a championship for Houston, but The Shane Battier Factor helped balance out the Miami Heat’s roster and led to two NBA titles for Battier and the Heat.
Featured image from Keith Allison