NBA Playoff Confessions Day 5: I Still Like to Watch Underdog
Anybody born within five years of 1984 has to have watched an episode of “Underdog” or two growing up—even though the show was in complete re-runs by the 1980’s. Sure, it wasn’t the most popular cartoon among the Saturday morning favorites, but much like the name suggests, it was an extremely underrated cult classic among young children and pre-teens.
I know that I personally liked. In fact, I confess; I still like Underdog. I watch clips of it online to this day, mainly to refresh my memory on scenes I watch regularly. Part of my continued infatuation for the cartoon is its simplistic writing and ironic plots. But the main reason I like watching Underdog is because it is literally an underdog story. The cartoon is all about a superhero that’s not so super. Despite his supernatural powers, Underdog isn’t as strong, fast or smart as his life-saving contemporaries. He is always prone for a mistake and never gets things right the first time, yet more often than not, he was capable of coming through with a win.
My love for the cartoon has carried over into my love for sports. I can’t help but root for the underdog. The only time I don’t root for the underdog is when one of my favorite teams is the favorite. Outside of that, and maybe the Olympics, I mine as well say that I’m a fan of the underdog. Who wants to see the favorite win? They always win—that’s why they’re the favorite!
The underdog in sports, much like the cartoon, is usually lacking something. In the case of my New York Knicks and this Boston Celtics series, the Knicks lack a consistent outside shooter and scorer that can stretch the Celtics defense. In the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets series, New Orleans lacks a strong interior presence. And in the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers series, the 76ers lack a true star player (and no, Andre Iguodala does not count).
But you know what? It’s bigger than that.
My love for the underdog isn’t just about the less-blessed coming up big; it’s about the instant community built around the underdog. You see it in the NCAA Basketball Tournament all the time. The favored seed usually has more fans in the house. But let the game get close with four minutes left in the match, and all of a sudden everybody in the arena, and bars across the nation, is cheering for Cinderella.
The same thing happens in the NBA Playoffs. If you didn’t find yourself rooting for Tyler Hansbrough and the Indiana Pacers during Game 1 of their series with the Chicago Bulls, then you must be a Bulls fan. If a part of you didn’t get goose bumps when the Memphis Grizzlies beat San Antonio in Game 1, you must have had money on the Spurs. And if you weren’t on the edge of your seat when Chris Paul was leading the underdog New Orleans Hornets over the Los Angeles Lakers—well, you just don’t know sports or basketball.
And the 2011 NBA Playoffs appear to be the year of the underdog. In an NBA season that began with the focus all about a new trio of players and another team going for a trio of championships, the postseason is full of talent-challenged teams fulfilling the role of the underdog. Between Pacers-Bulls, Grizz-Spurs, Hornets-Lakers and Celtics-Knicks, if you don’t like basketball this season, you either really hate the underdog, or just don’t like basketball.
I don’t fall into either category, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m about to ride out to this Underdog theme song when I leave work.