Ranking the Utah Jazz's 5 Most Despised Rivals This Season
What would our favorite teams be without their respective rivals?
Of course, NBA teams always want to win, regardless of opponent. But anyone who says the taste of victory is not that much sweeter and more satisfying when it comes at the expense of a team whose uniforms make your stomach churn is lying.
Multiple realignments and a fairly large division puts somewhat of a damper on legitimate vitriol and hatred between the Utah Jazz and an opponent, but make no mistake, it's there.
Not all rivalries are within the bonds of the Northwest Division, or even the Western Conference. One particular personal rivalry landed an Eastern Conference team on this list.
Of course, you'll have to read on to find out who that team is, in addition to the other four biggest rivals of the Utah Jazz.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
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Look for the Minnesota-Utah rivalry to quadruple in intensity and visibility this season.
The Timberwolves' addition of long-time Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko will give plenty of additional incentive for each side to emerge victorious.
This is also the first year in some time that Minnesota is expected to be in the running for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. It's very likely Minnesota and Utah will be two of, if not the two last teams, vying for the final playoff spot.
When the stakes are higher than ever and the intensity is ratcheted up, that is what bears true rivalries and creates strong dislike between individual players.
4. Boston Celtics
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They absolutely hate each other.
Ironically, Al Jefferson was the key piece Minnesota acquired when they dealt Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics. Now the two key pieces of that trade make no bones about their mutual dislike, something that is quite evident every time the two teams clash.
Obviously this rivalry lacks any postseason significance, as the two teams have never met in the NBA Finals, which is the only place they could meet in the postseason. But the Jefferson/Garnett beef virtually guarantee things will get pretty heated at some point.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
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This rivalry is more about placement within the division than a real hatred between individual players on the Jazz and Thunder. Since Durant and Westbrook hit their stride, Utah has perpetually been looking up at the Thunder in the standings.
Utah needs this to be a rivalry, because "rivalry" insinuates relatively even competition between the two squads. Oklahoma City still appears to be the superior team this year even after trading key piece James Harden to the Houston Rockets, but it's not completely out of the question that Utah could come close to matching OKC's record if it finds a lineup that works.
There doesn't seem to be any real hatred between these two teams as of yet, but that could change in the heat of battle at a moment's notice, especially with notorious hot-head Kendrick Perkins involved.
2. Denver Nuggets
The two teams are constructed very similarly, two deep teams that lack a bona fide NBA superstar. Provided Utah's season isn't a dramatic disappointment, these two teams are prognosticated to finish the closest in the Northwest Division and should be battling for second place in the Northwest behind Oklahoma City.
Though there is no pre-game or post-game trash being talked between these two teams, the extra fight and harder fouls within Jazz-Nuggets games are very noticeable.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Though this matchup breaks the bonds of the Northwest Division, it was still the only choice for number one on this list.
Among Jazz players and especially Jazz fans, there is no team more vociferously hated than the Los Angeles Lakers.
Part of the hate is due to the perceived notion that the Lakers simply "buy" anyone they want and are afforded the luxury of cherry-picking personnel, while the Jazz consistently overachieve with much less talent, but still usually come up a little short against L.A.
There's also the issue of the Energy Solutions Arena filling up with far, far too many purple and gold jerseys when the Lakers come to visit. It seems every fair-weather fan chooses the Lakers in the good times, a fact that drives Jazz fans who have stuck with their small-market, disadvantaged team through thick and thin.