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Choosing sides in the NBA playoffs

I know that sports is supposed to be about the best team winning but if the NBA Western Conference finals winds up being the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Hornets – two franchises who lacked the simple creativity to change their nicknames when they relocated – the sports public outside of those two places will absolutely go to sleep.

In a New Orleans-Salt Lake City series, the only story line will be about how one team comes from a city that has built its reputation on great music and free-flowing booze against a team from a city that, well, hasn't. Quick, other than New Orleans' Chris Paul, name me a player from either team.

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Both Utah and New Orleans are tied, 2-2, in their respective conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. The Jazz beat beat the Lakers in OT and the Spurs pummeled the Hornets yesterday to even things up.

In contrast, consider a possible L.A.-San Antonio series. In this corner we have the league MVP, Kobe Bryant, now an almost sympathetic figure playing gingerly with a bad back, and the Zen master, Phil Jackson. And in the other corner, we have the NBA defending champions and the current original Big Three – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

There's even more star power in the stands. When such a series would be in L.A., at courtside, we have the menace of Jack Nicholson and the cool of Ice Cube. In San Antonio, it's the glamour of Mrs. Tony Parker -- Eva Longoria (right).

Guess who the TV people are rooting for.

Photo: Eric Gay/AP

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