The NBA is the most popular basketball league on earth, with the top teams in the USA captivating fans all over the world. The massive fan base encourages some intense rivalries that entertain the public and make supporters deeply partisan; it’s even debatable which feud is the fiercest.
The very structure of the NBA Championships, uniting two conferences that are themselves divided into three divisions each, lends itself to a complex web of interconnected rivalries, ranked according to their age and ferocity.
Some feuds are between teams and owners, while others spring up between individual players on rival teams. Here are some of the most famous, both old and new.
Beef Du Jour
The rivalry currently leading the rest in terms of fans talking smack is probably the inter-division wrangle reigning in the Western Conference: Golden State Warriors in the Pacific Division, who have taken the NBA Championship three times since 2014-15, versus Southwest’s Houston Rockets.
The past five seasons have seen these two teams dominate in https://onlinebetting.nz/sports-betting/nba-betting/, and in that period, they have clashed four times in the conference rounds; on two occasions in the Conference Finals. The Rockets have yet to take a win from these encounters, though, so they and their fans are hungry.
Bygone Feuds Spark Back Up
The most exciting rivalry of yesteryear is the one that kept fans riled up through four playoffs meetings from 1980 to 1985: between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. The two Eastern Conference Atlantic Division teams have been wrangling for supremacy since the 1953 playoffs; a contest they have replayed over 21 meetings in total.
There’s been a lull in the contestation for a few decades, but a 2019 game between the two in the second round saw the rivalry rekindled. Celtics versus 76ers could soon be a hot ticket for punters wanting to see sparks fly again.
The Philadelphia team has more to prove; they have only won the NBA Championship twice, in 1967 and 1983. The Boston side, in contrast, began their 17-title haul in 1957, and last won the championship in 2008.
Bulls, Pistons And Michael Jordan
Chicago and Detroit are traditionally rival cities, and the same tussle used to take place between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons, both vying for supremacy in the Eastern Conference Central Division. It’s cooled off some since, but for three seasons from 1988, the Pistons were the Bulls’ nemesis.
That was the year they denied the Bulls a Conference Final, and in 1989 and 1990, the Pistons kept the Chicago team out of the NBA Final. The tables were turned in 1991 when the Bulls knocked out the Pistons in the Conference Final and went on to win the championship, holding onto the title in 1992 and 1993, followed by another three championships in a row from 1996 to 1998.
The Bulls-Pistons rivalry was made more piquant by the fact that Michael Jordan was in his heyday, sparking individual rivalries with several other players. Detroit point guard Isiah Thomas was one of them, and his battles with Jordan between 1989 and 1994 were legendary.