Today is Day 43 of the Omer. Hesed sheb’malchut. Kingship that leads to loving-kindness.
Tonight begins the seventh and final week of the Omer, the week of malchut, or kingship. This week we’ll be highlighting players with championship DNA, who have contributed to title-winning teams. On Day 43, hesed sheb’malchut, our final choice came down to two very different players with very similar last names, Pascal Siakam and Jack Sikma.
Siakam was a key player on the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors, averaging 19.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the game. This year, Siakam, the 6’9” Siakam got even better and established himself as a cornerstone of the Raptors franchise. But despite a great start to his career, Siakam doesn’t yet measure up to Sikma.
At 6’11” the sweet shooting center from a small Dutch village in Illinois, was a stretch big ahead of his time. Able to score inside and out, with a variety of moves, Jack Sikma could shoot over anyone. He was an excellent free throw shooter, who proved in his later years that he could be a reliable shooter from three point territory.
Coming into the NBA as a relative unknown out of NAIA Illinois-Wesleyan, Sikma quickly established himself as a fixture for the Seattle Supersonics z”l (may their memory be a blessing). In his second year, he began a string of seven straight All-Star appearances with Seattle and helped lead the team to an NBA championship. Over 14 seasons with Seattle and Milwaukee, the Hall of Famer averaged 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds.
As we count up the final days until Shavuot, the festival when we commemorate the giving up Torah at Mt. Sinai, it felt appropriate to choose a player who was a revelation to me. I mean, I’d heard the name Jack Sikma before…but had no idea about his combination of size, skill, shooting, and vision. His patented reverse pivot “Sikma move” was unstoppable in the post.
If he were to play today, I think he would be even better. He would stretch the floor for his teammates, while shooting 6-8 threes/game, instead of 1 or 2. Combined with his rebounding and passing, I believe he would be an elite center in the NBA.
It was actually his passing that made the biggest impression on me. Sikma was a great passer with great vision and fully embodied the aspect of hesed, highlighted today. Combine that with his championship credentials and you get the perfect choice for Day 43, hesed sheb’malchut.