The next great NBA rivalry may be upon us

Magic versus Bird, Russell versus Chamberlain, Jordan versus everybody else.  These are the rivalries that molded the National Basketball Association into what it is today.  It’s why so many fans resented LeBron when he decided he’d rather play with his best friend instead of eking it out on his own.

But fear not, NBA fans.  We may be on the verge of another great rivalry.  If franchise owners play their cards right, these two teams could dominate the league for years to come.

I’m not talking LeBron versus Kobe.  That’s a Finals matchup we have yet to see. It can’t be LeBron-Carmelo.  Even though they entered the league in the same year, LeBron is showing us he’s a far more dominant player.

But it might, just might, be LeBron versus Kevin Durant, the Heat versus the Thunder, Miami versus OKC.  Basketball fans in the Pacific Northwest are collectively drowning their sorrows in their lattes.  If only they had shown up to the games.

I’m not saying this year’s Finals will consist of a Heat-Thunder match-up, but after watching these two teams step up their games in the first round, it’s becoming more and more obvious to anyone who’s watching that there are four men on the floor, Wade, James, Durant and Westbrook, that are simply un-guardable.

One thing that has always held true about the NBA is that teams, and players, must pay their dues along their march to basketball immortality.  Superstars don’t just come into the league and win championships, unless their name is Magic Johnson, and even he had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by his side.

Wade’s won his… with Shaq.  LeBron’s been to the Finals twice… and lost.  The Thunder lost to the Mavs in last year’s Western Conference Finals.  Even Michael Jordan was beaten and abused for years by the Detroit Pistons before he could taste greatness.

Champions pay their dues.   That’s the way it has always been.  That’s the way it will always be.

In 2012, we may be on the verge of crowning a brand new champion, featuring two young teams that have paid their dues.  I don’t mean to discount either Los Angeles or San Antonio in the West (and yes, I do mean to discount every other team in the East) but an Oklahoma City-Miami Finals would not only be insanely exciting to watch, with literally three of the top five, and four of the top ten, players in the league, but if these team’s rosters remain intact, always a tough assumption in modern-day sports, we could be witnessing the beginning of sports next great rivalry.

Of course, this may all be premature, the Heat and Thunder might not get there.  Both teams could disband next season, but let’s hope not.  They’re both too fun to watch.

When I started watching the NBA, the Lakers and Celtics dominated the Finals landscape.  With no allegiance to either team, I found it routine that those two teams would always be fighting it out at the end.  Looking back on it now, those were two of the most talented teams the league has ever seen.  I just didn’t recognize it.

The league could stand to have another strong rivalry like that.  It looks like they’re about to.

18 thoughts on “The next great NBA rivalry may be upon us

  1. Pingback: The next great NBA rivalry may be upon us - BallHyped, NBA | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Durant v Kobe would be great but the Heat have to overcome a few hurdles of their own ……. namely win a god-damn title with this current roster . Less we forget last season’s Finals wasn’t an aberration . Not one , not two , not three , not four . OK LeBron , I hear you , you no longer want to be looked upon as a villain . Well if you want that , then show some signs of maturity , leadership and stop being the proverbial a_s ! Win one for fans or “The the Gipper “ , whichever you prefer ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    On another note , do you see the Thunder as being able to get past the Spurs .given the form of both teams in these playoffs ?

    So NPBA (union) President Billy Hunter has a few skeletons” in his closet then ? How quaint of him to make sure $4.5 million of his union’s monies (fees) surreptitiously went allegedly , indirectly to entities controlled by some of his family members . Hence the reason why the union is now under investigation by the US Justice Dept . Now there’s talk also of the IRS </a. getting involved do an in-depth audit of the NBPA . Nice !

    And we thought the scumbags in US House and Senate were the only ” bas_ards” worth hanging by their balls or ill-na-na ? Your thoughts with regard to the allegations now fomenting concerning the NBA Players’ Union ?

    I’ve detailed it in my latest piece entitled ” The Cuban Missile Crisis ” .

    tophatal ………..

  3. I’m not sure DeVos is even aware who’s coaching that team, Dub. That’s part of the problem.

    He was recently overheard telling a staff member, tell Doc to just let that Dwight kid play 48 minutes.

    Or maybe I’m just making that up. Who knows?

  4. Al…

    We’ve been waiting for LeBron-Kobe for some time now, hasn’t happened, and remember, we’ve already seen LeBron-Timmy with Timmy getting the best of him in a four-game sweep.

    I’m not sure who I like in the West just yet to be perfectly honest, however, I’m guessing Commissioner Stern would prefer either Kobe or Durant in the Finals.

    Call it a hunch.

  5. Dude, I think you are about the only other person I know who looked at Lebron’s loss last year as a part of the winning process.

    It reminds me of how MJ had his slews of haters, especially in the 80’s, and how they are a fundamental reason he improved so much and his legacy shines so bright, even today. The most die hard MJ supporters now were Magic/Bird fans before, claiming that MJ could never win a championship and scoring title.

    If Lebron can get over the hump and start winning rings now I really suspect it will be the same thing and all the people who took part in the smear last year will be his lap dogs for the next decade.

    Love this article chump.

  6. Stern will take whatever he can in terms of the NBA Finals as the tv ratings been up and down over the last decade . The only time the viewers’ interest tends to be piqued is when either the Lakers or Celtics are involved . And at this juncture is anyone sure that one of those teams will be involved in the Finals itself during this postseason in the NBA’s showcase finale ? I’m not so sure that the postseason stats would indicate that !

    Chris , answer me this , why can’t NFL analysts simply keep their damn mouths shut ? What the hell is wrong with ESPN’s Cris Carter ? Man , who gives a #hit about bounties now in light of what’s now happening and the recent deaths of Seau and Ray Easterling ? Shouldn’t he and the league be more concerned with that and that of player safety without him (Carter) contributing his own fecal diatribe to this all ? I’m sure that Carter and Bill Romanowski can find a damn cage where they can settle their differences , don’t you think so ?

    If you’re a GM in baseball how much would you offer as a contract to Rangers’ slugger Josh Hamilton ? At best , as a premise you can offer a maximum 10 yr contract in length but the monetary figure ultimately would be yours to decide . So what’d your offer be ? Think about it .

    A LBJ Kobe “bro-mance ” is more likely to happen than their two respective teams meeting up in the NBA Finals .

    The Clip’ show is looking mighty tenuous at the moment as the Grizzlies are giving them more than they candle . Never mind the fact that BG (Griffin) is injured .

    tophatal …………

  7. No doubt “Stern” Stern wants Kobe or Kevin in the Finals versus the Heat. The ratings for these early round games are among the top Cable “shows” by far. I am encouraged by the interest in the Association. There has been some talk of this shortened season being a good thing for interest…that perhaps a start just before Christmas should be a permanent thing. I heard Stern in an interview indicate due to current contractual obligations with networks, arenas, cities, etc. that immediately shrinking the season wasn’t do-able. But I wonder…Chris, what are your thoughts about a shorter NBA season making sense?

  8. Gotta crawl before you can walk, Pest, and sometimes, you have to learn to lose before you can win. Maybe that’s some philosophical Confucian B.S., but I think it holds true, particularly in the NBA and even more so for its superstars.

    Look, LeBron lost in high school. He didn’t go to college and has now lost twice in the pros. I honestly think this is his time. I know we all keep saying this but he is too good not to win a championship. Multiple championships even.

    It’s coming, trust me.

    Thanks, as always, for the kind words, sir. Great minds think alike.

  9. Sorry, Al, but no one wants to see the Spurs. I’m not knocking their dedicated fan base, or their style of play, but it’s too methodical for the non-fan.

    As a basketball purist, I love it, but they don’t attract viewers. Either an L.A.-Miami or and OKC-Miami is what fans will want to see.

    And re: the Cris Carter stuff, Al, I’m now of the belief that ESPN simply makes up it’s own news. Have you ever, in the history of journalism, heard of such a thing?

    They employ a bevy of former, big name athletes who they prod and poke until they say something controversial. Then it becomes news. It’s quite brilliant, actually, and quite annoying, most definitely.

  10. SA…

    I heard that same interview. Was it on Rome?

    Personally, I like it. More games every night. But he’s right. That’s 14 extra games per team, per arena that don’t get played.

    That’s a whole lotta nine dollar beers, man.

  11. Personally, the LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant matchup would be a sight to see. Both of them worked out during the NBA lockout, which would stir some drama instantly. Then you’ll have Westbrook vs. Wade and Chris Bosh vs Harden. It would be such an action-packed NBA Finals.

  12. That’s what I’m looking forward to, BS.

    Plus I always like a match-up, like Melo-LeBron, where the two stars actually have to guard each other, keep each other honest.

    I wanna see if Durant will be able to keep up with James physically.

  13. The stage is definitely set for LeBron and Durant to have a rivalry for years to come. And unlike Kobe vs. LeBron, they both play SF so they’ll actually be guarding each other the entire game and not just the final minutes of the game. I think that whoever win the Lakers-Thunder series will go to the Finals, because that’s what Stern would want. Hopefully the Lakers can pull an upset and have a chance to lose to the Heat in the Finals. I wonder if the NBA wants LeBron to keep losing in the Finals to generate anticipation for the following season?

  14. JM…

    The Lakers are near 4:1 dogs to win that OKC series and believe it or not, the Clippers are coming back +1400 just to beat the Spurs. I mean you have to bet that, don’t you?

  15. Like I said, Joe, let’s hope (if you’re a Lakers fan or bet on ’em) that Kobe can somehow rally the troops. Experience may trump athleticism but at this point, this is no longer an inexperienced Thunder team.

    And a match-up against the Spurs, while it might not draw huge ratings, will be two Western powerhouses duking it out.

    I know I’ll be watching.

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