There’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned rivalry. The NBA has always been defined by them, but after a season in which LeBron James and the universally vilified Miami Heat stomped out their competition with such authority, there’s bound to be a little extra ill will this time around.
Miami’s new to the rivalry scene, though. The current version of the Heat has only existed for a couple of seasons, so their rivalries are fresh, their enemies recently formed. But the freshest wounds often sting the most, so a number of teams around the league will be focusing their hate stares on the Heat this season as they seek retribution for recent defeats.
The newest rivalries, like the ones created by Miami’s title run, can inflict the sharpest pain. But some feuds have deeper, more historical roots, as extended periods of familiarity have bred a duller, more persistent contempt. These types of rivalries focus on championship banners and decades of intense competition.
Still more are fueled by betrayal. Ask the Boston Celtics how they feel about a certain sharpshooter who took less money to join a hated adversary. Or check in on Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, to see if he’s gotten over a certain set of talents being whisked off to South Beach.
Sticking with personal feuds, some rivalries spring from an alpha dog fighting to keep his spot atop the league’s hierarchical kennel. There’s never a shortage of hungry young pups who’d love to take a bite out of the top dog.
Plus, certain players face fierce battles against age, injury and their own judgment.
In today’s NBA, rivalries abound.
So before the 2012-13 season tips off, let’s check out a few of the NBA’s hottest rivalries. Pick a side, because it’s about to get heated.