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Jazz title? Just ask Da’ Tara

SHARE Jazz title? Just ask Da’ Tara

In case you're not a horse racing fan, you may have missed the news that Da' Tara shocked Big Brown in the Belmont Stakes.

Then again, how could you miss it? The media covered it like a stock market meltdown.

Oh, wait, the media covered that, too.

Either way, it was a huge win for a 38-1 long shot — the longest in the field. If you had wagered a single U.S. Grant on Da' Tara, you could right now be buying an excellent high definition TV, or a not-so-excellent used car.

So it was a big surprise, like, say, Jessica Simpson winning an Oscar or Kim Jong Il winning a Nobel Prize.

Some things you just don't see happening.

I bring this up because with the NBA Draft in two weeks, the issue of the Jazz winning a championship some day will again be in the backs of peoples' minds. Ridiculous consideration, right?

Da' Tara begs to differ.

As much as the experts like to tout favorites, it doesn't always happen that way. Hence, Big Brown, expected to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years, was uncharacteristically off his game. Near the end, jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled his horse back, finishing barely ahead of the cleanup crew.

That's the first time in history a Triple Crown candidate has finished last at Belmont Park. It's a bit like Haagen-Dazs taking last in a taste test.

Which would make Da' Tara the flavor of the month.

Although the odds favor the best in any sport, they don't eliminate the chance for an upset. Look at Rulon Gardner. He was an unpretentious, slightly lumpy country boy from Afton, Wyo., in the 2000 Olympics. He probably wasn't really planning on much, except getting back home to feed his cows. Yet he traumatized Russian wrestler Alexander Karelin, who had been undefeated and unscored on for a decade.

The unassuming Gardner treated the whole thing like a steer-wrestling competition.

Then there was Buster Douglas, the palooka who KO'd Mike Tyson in 1990 for the heavyweight crown.

Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, never came close to living up to his title. But for one night, he was king of the cosmos.

Some say the New York Jets' 1969 Super Bowl win over Baltimore was the greatest upset of all time. But how big an upset can it be when Broadway Joe Namath is on your side?

Chaminade's 1982 basketball shocker over Ralph Sampson's Virginia squad almost always makes the list of surprise wins. As it turned out, Sampson wasn't as special as everyone thought.

The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey win over the Soviet Union is widely considered history's greatest sports surprise. The win was so big that people forget it was only a semifinal game, not the gold medal game. Didn't matter. They celebrated like it was the fall of communism.

I still believe the biggest upset of all time happened when I was 16. That was the first time my little brother beat me in basketball. He was two points away from a win, dribbling out beyond 3-point range, backing up as he went, when he suddenly threw up this prayer that hung in the air for, oh, an hour, before cleanly dropping through the hoop.

To this day I believe he was just in a hurry to unload the ball so he could go to the bathroom.

It's not like he aimed at the basket or anything.

There are other upsets, such as Villanova's NCAA championship win over Georgetown (1985) and Upset's 100-1 long-shot win over Man o' War (1919). But in most cases, it was a one-shot deal, not a series.

That's where things get complicated.

Quite a few teams and people can win it all on some enchanted evening. But true best-of-seven upsets like the NBA Finals?

They happen, but it's probably easier to win the lottery.

Odds on that, by the way, are 120 million to one.

E-mail: rock@desnews.com