It's May, not March, but that doesn't change the fact the public loves a Cinderella.
Do you root for the Warriors because they play like they have no cares in the world? Chaos might not always be pretty, but it sure can be exciting.
|Do you want to root for this guy? Pacers fans, we know your answer. (Getty Images)|
Can you root for Stephen Jackson? He's saying and doing all the right things. Do you believe a leopard can change his spots? Or are the mental images of him shooting a gun up in the air outside a strip club too much to overcome?
In Indiana, you can expect a few to be torn. Jackson had many great moments for them over the years. He gave his all out on the floor, and yet he also disgraced the Pacers organization to the point where he had to be moved. Most resent him. His reputation precedes him.
Reputations don't precede anyone in Utah. The most venomous grudge anyone can have against members of the Jazz are Clevelanders still upset that Carlos Boozer left them high and dry to chase the cash Larry Miller threw at him. Folks in Toronto might be mad at Rafael Araujo, but no one ever twisted their arm to draft him. Raptors fans should be happy to be rid of him, and rooting for Utah because it took him off their hands on general principle. Somehow, the Jazz decided to take on Araujo, giving up the solid Kris Humphries.
Shoot, Raptors fans should have a big Utah foam finger based solely on that.
All kidding aside, the Jazz are the safe team to root for. The team's best players hail from Turkey, Russia, Alaska and West Virginia. Although they had two All-Stars and could've had three, they have no star power. Not unless you count the statues of John Stockton and Karl Malone that greet you outside Energy Solutions Arena.
The Warriors are the fun team to root for. Baron Davis has become a folk hero of sorts. Jason Richardson hasn't stopped smiling since Golden State ended his personal playoff drought on the final night of the regular season. Don Nelson got the last laugh against his former employer, who felt he was more interested in going out to get a beer after work than actually winning.
Both are Cinderellas, but the way you can separate them is that one is pure and white, and the other is used to donning the black hat. They're naughtier. There's no vanilla involved, and for better or worse, they are who they are.
Now, is America ready to root for them? Ready to be naughty? They promise to be entertaining. Utah, too.
It doesn't matter who you root for. But when you pick a side, ask yourself why.
Nuts and bolts: Considering the perceived strength of the Western Conference, this may be the most shocking semifinals matchup in history.
Who will win the series?
Total Votes: 12,924
Hollywood stories: Davis has former classmate Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson in his corner. Utah's Deron Williams is as unheralded as they come. The most popular kid in school plays the unassuming one who made it big in this point guard matchup, the central point of contention in this series. Davis and Williams ensure that everything is going according to plan for their respective teams, and both did exceptional jobs in the first round.
What's up with the hammy?: Davis said it's giving him some trouble, but he'll be out there playing. Williams will not be sympathetic, so Golden State better hope he holds up.
School of Fish: Derek Fisher was a Warrior for two seasons, but don't underestimate the impact his professionalism had on guys like Monta Ellis, who was a rookie back then, and guys hungry to win, like Davis and Richardson. Now Fisher is utilizing his veteran influence in Utah, and he's playing a more vital role than he probably would have with the Warriors.
The question is can he keep up with his former pupils? Ellis, the league's Most Improved Player, is among the faster players in the league. Richardson poses gigantic matchup problems. Fisher has to hope his old man's game can prove to be a worthy counter. I have a hunch Utah is going to need him to come through in the clutch.
How good is this series going to be?: If Golden State's tempo prevails, this is going to be a blast. The Warriors just better find someone to contain Boozer, or they're going to be taking the ball out of their own net too often to run the way they would like to.
The selection: Utah in 7. Every home team won the regular-season meetings. I'm betting the same trend develops in this series. If you put a gun to my head, I'd confess I'd be more surprised if the Warriors win in Salt Lake City than if Utah can overcome the "We Believe" drive in Oakland.