Spurs matchup ignites rivalry | ParkRecord.com

Spurs matchup ignites rivalry

by Tracie Fails, of the Record staff

Few Parkites can claim lifelong roots in the city they now call home. And while backgrounds of residents often gel to create a unique Park City culture, sometimes hometown pride can overpower new loyalties.

The NBA tournament is one of those times.

The battle between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals has brought lifelong Utahns, ambivalent newcomers and San Antonio fans together for mixed crowds at local bars.

"I’ll always go for the Spurs," said San Antonian Matt Purdy, who cheered his team to a 91-79 victory Monday night at Butcher’s Chop House & Bar. "I do have to remember that [other fans] have a right to cheer for Utah, so I can’t get mad when they do. But of course I want the Spurs to win." So far, Purdy’s wishes have come true. The Spurs lead the seven-game series 3-1.

Billy Williams, part-owner of Butcher’s, said he has seen a number of San Antonio fans in the bar throughout the playoffs. "Oh, yeah, they’ve been in. I recall some Spurs fans in just the other night." Williams noted that Jazz-Spur relations have remained friendly although some banter usually arises between the two camps.

Some Texas natives from outside San Antonio have joined the Jazz cheering section. Steve Dopita of Houston, a Parkite of six years, roots for the Jazz as if he’s lived here all his life. Watching the game at O’Shucks Bar & Grill, he doesn’t flinch when his team loyalty is questioned.

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"Oh yeah, I’m a Jazz fan," he says, keeping his eyes on the screen.

A Butcher’s regular from Dallas, who declined to give his name, also roots for the Jazz. "I guess if it was the [Dallas] Mavericks playing against them it could be a different story, but this is the home team now. I’m going for the Jazz."

Meanwhile, some newcomers don’t care which side wins, as long as the teams play good basketball.

"I can’t pretend I love the Jazz," said Jason Schmidt, a part owner of Butcher’s from Miami, Florida. "But I do like watching the game. It’s not me out there playing, so I don’t really care who wins."

Purdy said that kind of ambivalence wouldn’t fly in San Antonio.

"There, once the playoffs come around, there’s Spurs stuff everywhere. The whole city gets into it. I don’t see anybody with Jazz paraphernalia here or in Salt Lake."

If Purdy issued a challenge with that claim, Jazz fans don’t have much time to respond. A win for the Spurs in San Antonio Wednesday would send Utah’s team home for the off-season.

But at least some in Park City would rejoice in that victory.