The Thunder are in for a mighty challenge tonight. Tonight's game isn't going to be so much about X's and O's as it is the fine art of not yielding. As OKC prepares mentally and physically, I thought it would be prudent to get appropriately amped up by watching and reflecting on some of the great battle speeches from both cinema and actual history. Here are a few that come to my mind, but offer up your own in the comments as well.
Fight for that inch.
Tony D'Amato, "Game of Inches" speech, Any Given Sunday
Alexander the Great, 326 B.C. during his conquest in India
I could not have blamed you for being the first to lose heart if I, your commander, had not shared in your exhausting marches and your perilous campaigns; it would have been natural enough if you had done all the work merely for others to reap the reward. But it is not so. You and I, gentlemen, have shared the labour and shared the danger, and the rewards are for us all. The conquered territory belongs to you; from your ranks the governors of it are chosen; already the greater part of its treasure passes into your hands, and when all Asia is overrun, then indeed I will go further than the mere satisfaction of our ambitions: the utmost hopes of riches or power which each one of you cherishes will be far surpassed, and whoever wishes to return home will be allowed to go, either with me or without me. I will make those who stay the envy of those who return.
Aragorn's speech in "Return of the King"
Winston Churchill, 1940
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
William Wallace's speech in Braveheart
Patrick Henry, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" Speech Given on 3/23/1775
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
Dilios Recounts the Battle of Thermopylae, "300"
George Patton, U.S. Army WW II General
"If you need me, you can always find me in the lead tank."
Jimmy Valvano's 1993 ESPY Speech. "Don't give up, don't ever give up."
Lastly, it would be great if OKC, for at least one more game, could echo Sir Edmund Hilary after he finally climbed Mount Everest in 1953:
Well George, we knocked the bastard off.
So let's hear it. What else you got?
(post script: I am fully aware that applying some of the greatest speeches in world history to a basketball game might come across as a bit specious. I wrestled with the juxtaposition but ultimately decided to include them because, what are these great words in written form if not a rallying cry against the travails of humanity, no matter how grand, no matter how trivial? Those words were uttered and written down to inspire, so let us be inspired.)