Can the Crosby-Ovechkin Rivalry Rival the Bird-Johnson Rivalry of Past?

Christian AraosContributor IMay 11, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 09:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates after Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 9, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington,  DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Back in the eighties, the sports world stopped whenever the Celtics and Lakers would meet in the NBA Finals, mainly to see the two superstars play against each other. Obviously we know them as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

Now some 25 years later we have the two superstars of the NHL meeting in the playoffs and the sports world should stop right now if it hasn't already.

There are so many ways you can compare the Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin match up of now to that of Bird-Johnson a generation before.

For starters, both Crosby and Ovechkin and Bird and Johnson were amongst the best at their positions.  The argument can be made that Crosby is not the best center in the NHL; but in terms of winger (Ovechkin), small forward (Bird), and point guard (Johnson) there is no doubt that they are/were the best.

The two pairs also share the same contrasting personalities.  Both Crosby and Bird were much less concerned with putting on a show as Ovechkin and Johnson were.  Not to say that Ovechkin or Johnson were showboats, they just simply are known for adding a little razzle dazzle to the game, whereas Crosby and Bird are not known for that.

However, the two pairs do have their differences. (Not counting the sport.)

For now anyway, Crosby and Ovechkin will not meet in the Stanley Cup Finals since they both play in the Eastern Conference whereas Bird and Johnson did play in the finals four times.  This is big since the duel between Crosby and Ovechkin isn't occurring during the Cup Finals, there is a little less attention focused to it since there is a chance that both these teams will not win the Cup whereas with Bird and Johnson one would be holding the trophy and one would not.

Also for now, both Crosby and Ovechkin do not have their names engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup but Bird and Johnson both have NBA Finals rings.  The all too true cliche of not being legendary without winning is true here.  There have been a lot of great duels between great players but the ones that are truly remembered are when both players have won and are fighting to win again.

The Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry has only now begun to start to reach its potential with the rise of the Capitals into an overall team to be reckoned with in the NHL and the Penguins making the Stanley Cup Finals last year.  Within the next few years both of these players will have had their taste of victory, and that will only take this rivalry to another level.