The Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers to clinch the Western semi-finals---and our hearts. While fans love a dominant team full of talented stars who light up the court and/or field, we’re much more sympathetic and supportive of the underdog—the unpopular new kid on the block still trying to fit in. That’s how we see the Thunder. As they roared to an exciting win our hearts were pounding with them not just because they won, but because they beat the Lakers. The popular Lakers. The most championship-winning Lakers. The “I got Kobe Bryant” Lakers, and in that we see the story of David and Goliath with our David named Kevin Durant and that smooth stone a basketball.
The story of the underdog turned champion resonates with fans mostly because we can all connect to a time in our lives when we were considered an underdog. We weren’t the most popular or only expected to succeed at a marginal level. We can all connect to a time in our lives when we delivered the unexpected and were reminded that anything is possible. You can’t count anyone out because sheer determination, will and persistence can get the win over the most celebrated and talented opponents. This was seen at Super Bowl XLVI when the New England Patriots who had a perfect season record was taking on the New York Giants. At the press conference a reporter asked Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin how he felt about his chances of winning being so slim. Coughlin quickly responded, “I don’t know that. We have just as much of a chance of winning as they do.”
The Giants won.
While the Thunder still have a long road ahead of them to claim the NBA championship, it is sort of understood that all roads in the west have to go through the Lakers and it seems they’ve met that challenge and succeeded.
We can learn a lot through sports. In so many ways the nuances of the game mirrors life lessons. So what have we learned? Well, first we learn that it ain’t over til it’s over. Second, we learn the power of persistence:
“Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a porvberb. Education will not; the he world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
We wish the Thunder good luck through the rest of the season.