Lessons from Underdogs: NBA teams

Written by: Scott

Edited by: Lucas

Visual by: Anushka

The world loves an underdog. There’s something about the thrill of witnessing an upset, watching the sports teams that owned their league for a while go down in tournament play. The NBA season has been recommenced in Walt Disney’s resort in Orlando, Florida for about 2 months now. In these two months, one team has made sure you don’t overlook them, that you remember their playoff run in the 2020 NBA playoffs. I feel it is my duty to tell you the story of the Miami Heat NBA basketball team.

One year ago, if an NBA fan or ESPN analyst were to tell you that the Miami Heat would reach the prestigious NBA finals, you would’ve dismissed the comment or called them insane. Now, however, we are witnessing the Heat embrace the underdog mentality to astonishing results. Miami stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have literally called their team “dogs on the court”, and they really do play that way. On Miami’s way to the finals they swept the 4th seeded Pacers, handled the first seeded Bucks who had the league’s best regular season record and the league’s back to back MVP, and the Boston Celtics, the winningest team in NBA history. In each series the Heat were the lower seeded team, but the Underdog Mindset of their stars and supporting cast have propelled them forward.

To put their stellar results into  perspective, Vegas had the Miami Heat tied for worst odds to win the NBA finals (200-1) during the offseason of 2019. The transfer of the now superstar leader of Miami’s squad, Jimmy Butler, to the heat was frowned upon by fans and analysts alike. It was quoted as being a “weak career move.” All of this negative energy surrounding the “dogs” in Miami set the tone for their playoff run, the best Cinderella story in recent sports history. 

Throughout their journey from being doubted to playing on the biggest basketball stage in the world, different Heat players have hyped up their team with confident interviews. Udonis Haslem, a veteran and former champion of the team, said the following about their acquisition of Jimmy Butler: “You put him in a kennel with a bunch of dogs, he’s gonna be right at home”(fivereasonsports). Clearly, the dog mentality has been there from the beginning, as the star himself says, “we been underdogs our entire life, everybody up here got a chip on their shoulder”(Twitter). 

As the Miami Heat prepare to face off with the Lebron-lead Los Angeles Lakers, they seek to pull off their most difficult series win yet by riding their momentous “Dog Mentality” to the buzzer of each game. Tune in to the NBA finals to witness a possible perfect ending to the biggest Cinderella or “dog” story in NBA history.