Today is Day 33 of the Omer. Hod sheb’hod. The Ideal Humility.
Hod is associated with Moses’s brother, Aaron, who is the ideal #2 in Torah. He complements his brother Moses, speaks on his behalf in Egypt, and serves as a priest and peacemaker for the Israelites while they wander in the wilderness.
Finding that perfect #2 in the NBA is very difficult. Everyone grows up wanting to be Batman. Nobody wants to be Robin. But on Day 33, hod sheb’hod, we are blessed with perhaps the greatest #2 in NBA history, Scottie Pippen.
Scottie was a 7x All-Star and the perfect complement to Michael Jordan (the Moses of the Chicago Bulls). Long and athletic, he was one of the best defenders in the league, making the All-Defensive team 10x. He was a strong rebounder and facilitator who kept the ball moving and got his teammates involved. During his 12 seasons in Chicago, he averaged 17.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.1 steals/game.
In 1993-94 when Michael retired to play baseball, Scottie stepped up his game and led the Bulls to a 55-27 record and the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Unfortunately, it was in that series where Scottie had his lowest moment, the one “stain” on his record. With the Bulls down 2-0 in the series and Game 3 tied at 102 with 1.8 seconds left, Bulls coach Phil Jackson drew up a play for Toni Kukoc to take the final shot. Pippen, angry, that he wasn’t getting the ball refused to go into the game and quit on his team.
Episode 7 of The Last Dance takes on this incident. It’s an unfortunate moment in a great career, but it also highlights why Scottie, like Aaron, was a great #2, who was not cut out to be the leader of a championship team.
Aaron also had a great “career,” but struggled when Moses was away on Mt. Sinai. He caved to the demands of the Israelites and built the Golden Calf, but he still merited to become High Priest. Scottie put himself before his team and quit on them at a crucial moment. But he redeemed himself too, dunking all over Patrick Ewing later in that series, and eventually helping to lead the Bulls to three more championships after Jordan returned. He earned all six of his NBA titles and induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hod involves an orientation of submission. It’s hard to find the ideal level of humility. When a person of great ability and talent is able to follow an all-time great leader, they make the perfect #2. But that same willingness to submit, can be a detriment when they are forced to lead a team or community. Both Aaron and Scottie, made mistakes, but none of us should be judged by our worst moments. G-d forgave Aaron and the Bulls forgave Scottie. On Day 33, hod sheb’hod we celebrate the NBA’s ultimate number two, #33 Scottie Pippen
Featured image from Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com.