It’s the third night of Hanukkah and I’m ready to put together some takes hotter than the oil I’m cooking my latkes in. You know who makes me think of Hanukkah? Luke Maye.
- And since there’s no way you could possibly be sick of Luke Maye content yet, here are 8 ways Luke Maye perfectly represents the traditions of Hanukkah.
Luke Maye is an Underdog
I recognize many y’all may not be all that familiar with the story of how Hanukkah came to be. I’ll start from the beginning. 2,100-ish years ago, the Jews and the Seleucids were not getting along. The Seleucids were a large group of people. They were strong. They were battle-tested. Etcetera.Meanwhile, the Jews basically just had this one family called the Maccabees. As a family, the Maccabees decided to go to war with the Seleucid Empire. They wanted to save their temple in Jerusalem and make sure the Jewish people could practice their religion freely.
So you see, it was the Maccabee family against the entire Seleucid Empire. A classic underdog story. Not too dissimilar to Luke Maye’s underdog story.
The Maccabees Were Sneaky Good
The Maccabees went to war with the Seleucid Empire. As the story goes, the Maccabees were some of the first people to use what is now known as guerrilla warfare. They were very sneaky in the way they’d win their battles. The Maccabee mastermind was Judah Maccabee, AKA “The Hammer.”
Similarly, you could call Luke Maye’s sophomore season sneaky good. For the most part, you didn’t really notice him. But every once in a while… 15 rebounds against Florida State. 16 points against Butler in the Sweet 16. A game-winning jumper against Kentucky in the Elite 8. Most Outstanding Player in the Memphis Regional. What? That dude just came out of nowhere and led his team to a Final Four.
A Dark Cloud
So the Maccabees won the war and the Jews were ready to get back to temple. They arrive at schul only to realize that their temple was destroyed during the war. They were going to have to completely rebuild it. People were unsure if the temple would ever be what it once was.
Sound familiar? That’s right. Luke Maye arrived at UNC during a time when people were unsure what was going to happen, as the “dark cloud” of possible NCAA sanctions hung over the program. Coach Roy Williams was struggling to recruit elite players. People were unsure whether the program would ever be what it once was.
8 Days of Light
The Jewish people decided to rebuild the temple as quickly as possible. They found enough oil to light their lamps for one night. Some folks started rebuilding the temple that very night, while others went on a voyage to go find more oil. They wouldn’t return for eight days. Miraculously, the oil that was only supposed to last for one night, lasted for eight (this miracle is why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight nights, by the way).
Luke Maye arrived at UNC as a walk-on with low expectations. But just like the oil that was only supposed to last one day, people greatly underestimated Luke Maye. It’s safe to say he’s been better than what we expected.
Hanukkah means “Rededication”
So with the help of a miracle, the Jews rebuilt their temple incredibly efficiently. Every year, Jewish people celebrate this rededication of the temple throughout Hanukkah.
You could argue that when Roy Williams offered Luke Maye a scholarship, it was a symbol of “rededication” to Maye as a basketball player. Fortunately for Luke, he got to keep his scholarship for longer than 8 days (safe to say he’s earned it).
“A Great Miracle Happened There”
During Hanukkah, Jewish people play a game called Dreidel. Participants take turns spinning a four-sided top. Once it stops spinning, it reveals one of four Hebrew letters (Nun, Gimel, Hay, or Shin). These letters stand for a Hebrew sentence: “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” or “A great miracle happened there.”
“A great miracle happened there” has also become a common way for Tar Heel fans to refer to Memphis, in honor of Luke Maye’s game-winning jumper.
Jewish people eat foods that are cooked in oil during Hanukkah. This is a symbol of the oil that lasted for eight days, but also, it’s delicious, and frankly, that’s what’s important. Latkes (or potato pancakes) are the most traditional Hanukkah food, but it is also fairly common for Jews to fry up some donuts when they’re in the mood for a sweet treat. You’ve gotta be careful with latkes, as they’re best served sizzling hot.
Speaking of sizzling hot, that’s what Luke Maye has been thus far this season. He’s averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game and is starting to be taken seriously as an all-ACC caliber power forward.
Getting back to the Maccabee family for a second here. Judah Maccabee’s dad, Mattathias, actually played quarterback in Israel during the 130s B.C.E.
Luke Maye’s dad, Mark, was also a quarterback. Did you know that? He played at UNC during the 1980s.