The Greatest Alliances in Sports: Teams That Actually Kind of Like Each Other
In sports, it's very rare to hear of teams that somewhat like each other.
Sometimes, however, fans build a likeness for other teams besides their own and find themselves rooting for these other teams on occasion because of a certain player or a shared rival. There are several different examples in each sport, and sometimes cities build somewhat of a bond or friendship due to events in several different sports.
This is very hard to find, but there are just a few teams and cities who respect each other enough to root for each other on many occasions.
New York Giants-Indianapolis Colts
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Obviously, Peyton Manning isn't a Colt anymore, but both team's fans' love for their quarterbacks and their families cause each to regularly root for one another. When the NFL playoffs started this year, ESPN conducted a poll of who fans wanted to win the Super Bowl. Unsurprisingly, the states of New York, New Jersey, and Indiana voted for the Giants.
These teams also like each other because they both shared a mutual hatred for the New England Patriots. The Colts-Patriots has been arguably the best NFL rivalry for the better part of the past decade, and the Giants have beaten the Pats twice in the Super Bowl in five years.
Anaheim Ducks-Canadian Teams
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Both of these teams love Teemu Selanne; and Winnipeg fans saluted, supported, and cheered him on even when he was on the opposing Anaheim team. The story is much the same with Montreal/Anaheim and Saku Koivu, a Habs fan favorite who is now a Duck.
Also, Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke used to hold the same title with Anaheim; and Toronto and Anaheim have made many trades to and from each other in the past few years.
In 2007, Canadian-based TSN even ran a Top Ten list of reasons to root for Anaheim in the playoffs—and this is when the Ducks were playing the Senators in the Finals!
Ohio State-Appalachian State
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This is pretty much a given. Since Appalachian State's major upset of Michigan in 2007, Ohio State fans have loved the little team from the mountains, whose wins have absolutely no negative effects on the Buckeyes.
Just go take a look at some of the videos on YouTube of Ohio State fans celebrating the upset. Obviously, they care more about Michigan losing than Appalachian State winning, but you get my point. There's no reason for the Buckeyes to feel anything but love for the Mountaineers.
Photo from: http://michiganexposures.blogspot.com/2010/09/quirky-little-traditions.html
In the late 1950s, the Michigan Wolverines' public address announcer began announcing scores of Slippery Rock football games—a small Division II school in Pennsylvania.
It has been a Big House tradition ever since, and the crowd applauds loudly every time a victory is announced.
Slippery Rock has even played two Division II games at the Big House due to its popularity among Michigan fans.
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After twenty-two years in a Bruins uniform without a Stanley Cup, Ray Bourque signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche in the summer of 2000 for one reason: to win the Cup.
Boston embraced his decision, and Bruins fans followed the Avs all season. Bourque was honored in Boston when the Avalanche visited the Bruins, and once what was possibly the greatest story in NHL history was complete, Bourque brought his Cup back to Boston to celebrate.
Also, the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies have teamed up several times to try to get their players to win the MLB All-Star Game Final Vote.
Cleveland Cavaliers-Dallas Mavericks
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In the 2011 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks faced off with LeBron James: the Ohio native who went straight to the NBA from high school, and skipped college because of his fear of finals (sorry, had to throw that one in there) and went on to betray his Cavs team and build a "dream team" with the Miami Heat.
Cleveland fans suddenly grew fond of Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs, when they pulled off an upset and beat LeBron and the Heat. Obviously, it was expected that the city of Cleveland would root heavily against James in the finals, but it was surprising to see just how much the Mavericks were praised by Cleveland natives.
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Many people around Detroit love Philadelphia sports as well. Why? There are several reasons.
First of all, there wasn't really any bad blood after the 1997 Stanley Cup Final between the Red Wings and Flyers, and both teams grew to respect each other. The Red Wings-Flyers fan alliance has grown exponentially in recent years, as both teams share deep hatred for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby, and many Detroit locals have also applauded the Flyers fans for their chants against the Penguins star.
Furthermore, many Detroit fans were rooting for Philadelphia in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, because of a mutual dislike for the Chicago Blackhawks. This was flip-flopped the previous two years, as Flyers fans were pulling hard for the Wings to beat the Penguins.
Also, like the Rockies and Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies have teamed up several times to try to get their players elected during the MLB All Star Game's Final Vote. It started in 2009 as the "Bran-Torino" campaign (Brandon Inge and Shane Victorino), and returned in 2011 as the "Victor-Victorino" campaign (Victor Martinez and Shane Victorino).
Finally, one last point about the hockey alliance, one based on my own experience: I spent a week in Philadelphia in April to watch the Flyers. I always hear about how harsh Flyer fans are towards fans of pretty much any other team, and I saw Buffalo Sabres fans getting heckled relentlessly. However, I proudly wore Detroit sports gear throughout the week, and got nothing but compliments from Philadelphians.
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Well, the Celtics and Bulls don't exactly like each other but still...
The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are two Original Six franchises that root for each other normally when they're not playing each other (like most inter-conference Original Six teams), but they pull even harder for each other because of a mutual hate for the Vancouver Canucks.
Who do you think the Blackhawks were rooting for in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final—their biggest rival or a fellow Original Six team? Also, who do you think the Bruins were rooting for in 2010? A rival (Philadelphia Flyers) who overcame a three-games-to-none series deficit to embarrass the Bruins or a fellow Original Six team?
Lastly, people wanted to see a Red Sox and Cubs World Series for years, as both teams were (well, one still is) struggling from monumental title droughts.