Today is Day 47 of the Omer. Hod sheb’malchut. Nobility that manifests as humility.
The first player to win championships at every level – high school, college, NBA, and the Olympics, and one of only three to ever do it, was Jerry Lucas. He was an All-American in high school, the 2x National Player of the Year at Ohio State, and a 7x All-Star in the NBA.
Despite being only 6’8” Lucas still holds the 4th highest career average for rebounds per game at 15.6, behind only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bob Petit. The Hall of Famers most productive years were his first 7 seasons with the Cincinnati Royals when he averaged 19.6 points and 19.1 rebounds. After being traded to the San Francisco Warriors in 1969, he wore the the #47 for the remainder of the season. That may not seem like much, but a #47 Jerry Lucas jersey sold for $22,800 in 2013, so I think it counts.
However, Lucas is the choice on Day 47 of the Omer, hod sheb’malchut, because he was able to win an NBA championship in NY when he took on a lesser role. An all-star in 7 of his first 8 seasons, he was asked to come to NY and back up Knicks big men Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere. After an injury to Reed, Lucas moved to center and started as one of the smallest centers in the league. The next year, with Reed healthy, Lucas moved back to the bench, but played a crucial role on the Knicks 1973 Championship team.
Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, writes, that according to his teammates:
Lucas…was unselfish to a fault…statistics never really meant that much to him, especially during that championship season. He came off the bench to average what was then a career-low 9.9 points a game, but he also averaged 7.2 rebounds and a career-best 4.5 assists.
That kind of humility from a champion at every level and one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-time is why Jerry Lucas is the perfect choice for Day 47, hod sheb’malchut, nobility that manifests in humility.
Off the court, Lucas was also well-known for his voracious mind, relentless creativity, and photographic memory (He once memorized 50 pages of the Manhattan phone book). To learn more about Jerry Lucas, check out ESPN’s Sportscentury episode on the player many consider the greatest college basketball player of all time and one of most fascinating players in NBA history.