SALT LAKE CITY — I guess I could write a cheesy column about the crowd at EngergySolutions Arena being the Jazz's sixth man in Saturday's playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers. I might even quote a couple of players about the "awesome" and "intimidating" setting the Los Angeles Lakers must face.
But I'll do us all a favor and refrain.
I take my cue from a long ago column in a Honolulu paper, wherein the writer urged Warrior fans to come out and support the team in its effort to defeat BYU. It seemed pretty amateurish to me. And it didn't work — BYU won anyway.
With that out of the way, I will allow this: There will be a lot of talk, both over the air waves and in print, about the noise at ESA. It has always been regarded as one of the loudest places in the league. But it's not alone. Stories said the volume at Oklahoma City this postseason reached 109 decibels.
For reference, that's approximately the same as a Rosie O'Donnell-Elisabeth Hasselbeck debate.
Anyway, I do believe crowds tend to reflect the personalities of their towns. In Los Angeles last week, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Maria Shriver, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon showed up. A fairly cool crowd.
In Salt Lake, we'll be lucky if Alan Osmond appears.
L.A. has Pamela Anderson, while Salt Lake has Rocky Anderson.
Two different places, two different styles.
Let's put it in perspective quickly: Kobe Bryant arrives for Laker games in a helicopter.
Whether ESA is the reigning noise champ is debatable. As much as people like to say it's the loudest place in the league — a contention some Denver players made in the first round — I can't confirm that. Back when the Stockton and Malone era was ending, the Jazz arena was no noisier than your average TGI Friday's.
The NBA Finals years were a story unto themselves. Unsubstantiated reports put the Delta Center noise in 1997 at 110 decibels. Still, to say Utah has the loudest crowd in the league sort of raises the question: Isn't it always that way when you win?
Granted, the L.A. crowd is different. There, you don't get excited unless someone offers you a reality show. But when Michael Jordan was playing in Chicago, the noise was deafening. When Sacramento had its best teams, it was ear-splitting at Arco Arena; some reports — also unsubstantiated — had the noise level at 130 decibels.
Portland, Phoenix and Dallas, on good years in the playoffs, were riotous.
Even Golden State drew national attention for its noise at Oracle Arena in 2007, and those Warriors were an eighth seed.
Let's just reiterate that noise in any arena has a lot to do with how much noise the team makes on the court.
Noise may also have something to do with one-team markets. Which brings up the question: Is Salt Lake a yahoo town (and I don't mean that in an Internet kind of way)? Laker coach Phil Jackson certainly thinks so, though you have to remember, this is from a guy who grew up in Montana and North Dakota.7 comments on this story
In a sense, all the one-team places are yahoo towns: Orlando, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento, to name several. They get excited when the rest of the nation starts showing them attention. At the same time, even big cities can become yahoo towns when they win. Look at Denver with the Broncos.
When Houston won the NBA championship in 1994, the papers ran full-page ads congratulating the team for its accomplishment. Same when Hakeem Olajuwon won the MVP.
So hometown jingoism isn't limited to small market teams.
I figure Saturday's noise level will be high, right up until the point the Jazz fall significantly behind. Then not so much.
No place is wild and crazy unless the team gives it something to cheer about.