Day 42: Big Game James

Today is Day 42 of the Omer. Malchut sheb’yesod. The championship foundation.

In 1982, the Los Angeles Lakers brought home the NBA title behind two all-time greats, 3x League MVP Magic Johnson and 6x League MVP, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Their championship roster included two more future Hall of Famers (Bob McAdoo & Jamaal Wilkes), as well as a 2x All-Star (Norm Nixon), and a future Defensive Player of Year (Michael Cooper). 

Well, what do you get for the team that has everything? How about the #1 pick in the NBA draft? Due to a 1980 trade with the legendarily inept Ted Stepien, the Lakers held Cleveland’s pick in 1982, which ended up #1. They used it to select James Worthy from the University of North Carolina. Worthy had just been named an All-American and Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after leading UNC to the NCAA Championship. 

Day 42, malchut sheb’yesod is the final day of the sixth week of the Omer, the week of yesod, or foundation. James Worthy was #1 pick and future star. It’s often easier to establish a future franchise cornerstone when your roster is bare. But how do you add a potential star to a championship mix?

James Worthy was the ideal choice. A star who shared the ball with other great players like Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan at UNC and who came in and understood his place in the Lakers universe. With the Showtime Lakers he complimented the team’s stars while being an electric finisher at the rim.

Worthy gradually took on a bigger role with the team, becoming an All-Star in his 4th season and then making seven straight All-Star games. Rather than detracting from a great team, Worthy made them better. He helped the Lakers to three more NBA Championships during his career, winning Finals MVP in 1988. On Day 42, James Worthy is the embodiment of malchut sheb’yesod, a foundational piece that manifests championships. And Worthy was the rare piece who could fit in easily, leading to winning in the short and long-term.

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