In this case, NBA fans rooting for parity

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - It's hard to look at the Chicago Bulls and not think of the 2004 Pistons.

It's not that the Bulls will win the title like the Pistons did in that magical season.

It's that the Pistons were the last `real team', not a superstar-filled or free-agent-induced super team to win the championship.

The Pistons didn't have a superstar player and were able to do the impossible. So when the Bulls, with their superstar Derrick Rose in street clothes and watching from the sideline, beat the reigning champion Miami Heat in Game 1 of their second round playoff series, fans in NBA America got excited.

For sure, fans all around the league took both notice and interest in this matchup most experts thought would be a layup for the Heat.

That's why the interest in Game 2 on Wednesday night was sky-high. Was it a fluke or can it really happen, can the injury-plagued Bulls actually beat the Heat in a seven-game series?

Fans around the league are rooting for parity, not against LeBron James.

In a league which usually only has 3-4 teams talented enough to win a title, many fans are turned off.

And with good reason. Since 1991, only eight different teams have won an NBA title. Three teams have won four or more championships: Bulls (6), Lakers (5) and Spurs (4).

Worse, in the last five years, the Lakers were in the championship series three times and Miami the last two.

And another point of frustration for NBA fans, the only team to win a title without a superstar player were the 2004 Pistons. They beat the Lakers who had four potential Hall of Famers in their starting lineup that season.

Conversely, there is real parity in baseball. In the same time period, there have been 12 different MLB champions. Plus, before the Giants won in 2012, MLB had six different World Series winners in six years.

Better yet, 19 of the 30 teams have made it to the World Series.

In the NFL, championships are spread around better of late after a slew a dynasties like the 49ers, Cowboys and Steelers.

Starting with the Super Bowl in 1991, there have been 13 different champions, including one by the Tampa Bay Bucs, once a laughingstock for most of the expansion franchise's existence.

Fans would love to see similar results in the NBA. Fans don't want to invest time and money into a meaningless regular season so that the Lakers and Heat can play every year for the championship.

Or in this case, most expected 2013 to be just like 2012 with Oklahoma City and Miami in the finals for the second straight season.

Enter the Bulls, out of nowhere.

So when a team emerges that wasn't supposed to be in the mix to compete for a championship does what the Bulls have done, fans want to see somebody else win, spread the winning around.

And it's bigger than just rooting for the underdog. Nobody, other than fans in Milwaukee, rooted for the Bucks in the first round against the Heat.

No one honestly believed the Bucks could win.

Fans have a different outlook on the Bulls -- even without Rose.

Chicago's victory in Miami followed an impressive Game 7 victory in Brooklyn to shock the Nets and advance to the second round.

While the Bulls were fighting and winning despite illnesses and injuries, the Heat were maxing and relaxing.

After all, the Heat swept the Bucks with expected ease.

Some ill-advised sports reporters were even willing to go on the record and say the Heat weren't going to lose a game until they got to the Finals. And once they got there, LeBron and company would make their third straight trip to the Finals and win the championship for the second year in a row.

It was supposed to be a foregone conclusion, or so we thought.

But by stealing Game 1, taking home court from the Heat, the Bulls put the wheels in motion for a possible upset.

TV execs might not want it, but most NBA fans would gladly welcome this thing called parity -- for once.

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