Great Sporting Rivalries And Their Place In Basketball
One of the most enduring elements of a sport is the classic rivalry. This is something which is present in all sports – anyone who has witnessed a derby match in soccer will know that while all games are important for a team, the games that happen each season between close rivals are somehow more important than simply how they affect the league standings. Basketball is no different in this respect, although franchising and the league structure has seen to it that the rivalries are less geographical and more historic.
One of the most classic rivalries of recent years was the rivalry that bound Boston and Los Angeles for most of the 1980s. With little in common on the surface – Boston being a fairly blue-collar city in Massachusetts and Los Angeles the glitzy home of Hollywood – the rivalry between the teams was a result of their respective possession of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, two instant stars of the game. The teams played out three Finals series during that decade and ever since there has been a frisson to their encounters.
More recently there have been rivalries between teams who have exchanged high-profile players, which causes a lot of heat when the former crowd hero returns to their old stamping ground. Teams that are unpopular – often due to a reputation for “buying success” can expect to have a number of teams claim a rivalry with them, making every game a pitched battle for supremacy. This does explain the large number of rival clubs for the Los Angeles Lakers.