KJ’s Dunk, the 2013-14 Suns and Being the Underdog
Kevin Johnson wasn’t supposed to dunk over Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1994 Western Conference Finals.
If we’re being honest, the physics of it all – a 6-1 guard soaring over a 7-0 legendary, shot-blocking center – are hard to reconcile.
But it happened. And we love it.
Similarly, the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns aren’t supposed to be this good. Nearly every so-called basketball expert picked them to compete for the worst record in the league.
But they are legit. And, in turn, we love them.
As most people know, the Suns ended up losing the game where KJ’s dunk occurred against the Rockets in 1994. Houston, in fact, would go on to win the NBA Finals that year. Likewise, there’s certainly no way of forecasting what the rest of the season holds in regards to this year’s team.
Indeed, it shouldn’t matter.
As humans, we have a natural tendency to root for individuals who are perceived as outmatched for reasons that aren’t their fault. That is to say, it was the singular moment of KJ’s dunk that mattered to us. Those few seconds of euphoria, not necessarily the end result.
Certainly, KJ being nearly a foot smaller than Olajuwon qualifies in that regard; it’s why that iconic image will always be burned into our brains. In many ways, KJ’s dunk defined an entire era of Suns basketball.
Constantly the underdog, yet frequently surpassing expectations.
In the present (this season), it’s the team’s heart, perseverance and continual determination to overcome adversity (see: Channing Frye) that is so inspiring and infectious. The 2013-14 Suns are full of players who care deeply about their work ethic, proving people wrong and rising above detractors.
In a very real sense, the Suns are the Rocky Balboa to the NBA’s Apollo Creed.
They’ve instilled a prolific belief within the Suns community that by banding together and working hard (like the Suns do) then surely we, too, can have a similar impact in our respective lives.
That’s what being the underdog is about.
For that brief moment when KJ dunked over Olajuwon, the world (at least according to Suns fans) seemed fair.