Why Can't We Be Friends?: The 15 Best Rivalries in the History of Sports
If you have ever watched or played sports at any time in your life, you know that the enjoyment they bring is unmatched.
However, the enjoyment of watching a rivalry game brings that to a new level.
Yankees-Red Sox, Ohio State-Michigan—whether you like sports or not, you know the rivalries, and you love the games.
So without further ado, I give you the 15 greatest rivalries in sports history.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
This rivalry has fallen off in recent years but is still one of the greatest ever.
These teams have played over 115 games and aren't done yet. These teams have combined for 10 NFL championships. Both these teams and their fans have a natural hate for each other.
Arguably the NFL's two most passionate fanbases absolutely hate each other and break the sound barrier at each and every game.
Bill Cowher, Chuck Noll, Marty Schottenheimer: These are just a few of the world-famous coaches who have taken part in this rivalry.
14. Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus
Golf is not exactly America's most popular sport.
In fact, if you asked all of America who Phil Mickelson is, about 70 percent would have no idea.
Back in the 1960s, you would have quite a search on your hands if you wanted to find somebody who didn't know who Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus was.
This was Tiger Woods vs. Tiger Woods.
That was real golf.
13. Army vs. Navy
There is nothing greater then watching an Army-Navy game.
It's watching the brave men who represent our country proving that they can play too.
They have also given us quite a few great games and players over the years.
Although these programs have not been as competitive in recent memory, they are still two of the most storied programs in NCAA history.
12. Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal
It wouldn't be easy to find Americans willing to sit through a full tennis match.
However it would be easy to find fans willing to sit through a Federer-Nadal match.
These men were ranked as the world's top two tennis players for a full five years. They have met in seven Grand Slam finals.
They also took place in what is considered the greatest tennis match of all time at Wimbledon 2008.
The fact is that these guys are tennis.
11. New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers (aka Reggie Miller vs. the state of New York)
There was so much going wrong with basketball in the '90s, most notably Magic Johnson and Larry Bird leaving.
However just when it looked like basketball might fall off, Reggie Miller put all fans on the edge of their seats.
The NBA's two most physical teams squared off time and time again in the playoffs, creating some of the greatest moments in basketball history.
The headbutt, the choke gesture, eight points in eight seconds: Those are just a few of the unbelievable moments this rivalry brought us.
Although the winner often got nothing but a date with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, you still can't question the intensity of the games.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
These teams have been squaring off since 1917 and still hate each other to this day.
Want an idea of how dominant these two teams were?
From 1956-1969, they won 12 of 13 Stanley Cups.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
With the recent drama of rivalries like Yankees-Red Sox, people lose sight of the fact that Dodgers-Giants was once every bit as good.
This rivalry started when both teams played in New York, and in 1958 they carried their hate over to the West Coast. They have have provided us with some of the most famous pennant races ever.
The rivalry's most famous moment came arguably when Bobby Thompson hit a game-winning home-run to win the 1951 National League pennant. However, you may remember it better by the call, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
8. Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
The Cowboys and Redskins just flat-out hate each other, and why shouldn't they?
They have played each other two times every season since 1961.
No matter what their records are, you know that you will always get a good game when the 'Skins and 'Boys square off.
They have combined for a total of 33 divisional championships, 10 NFL championships, and 13 Super Bowl appearances.
Need I say more?
7. Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Packers and Bears had a big enough rivalry as it is. They didn't need another team to hate.
Well, either Packer and Bear fans now hate the Vikings just as much as they hate each other.
The Packers and Bears alone have already played each other an outstanding 179 times. They have combined for 21 NFL championships, 26 Super Bowl/NFL championsip appearances, and 46 Hall of Famers.
All the amazing moments and history that rivalry has brought us has been almost equaled, if not topped, by the recent Packers-Vikings moments.
Randy Moss "pulling the moon," recent battles for division titles, and of course, Brett Favre joining the Vikings have taken this rivalry to a whole new level.
6. Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird
These men changed the NBA and college basketball.
It is the greatest rivalry between players in any sport, and nobody can doubt that.
First, when they squared off in the 1979 NCAA championship game, a rivalry was formed, and a game was changed. It was the highest-rated college basketball game of all time and brought popularity to the NCAA Tourney that still lasts to this day.
However, as if they hadn't already done enough, Larry Legend and Magic revived the NBA in the '80s.
There rivalry is still unmatched in professional sports. That will never happen again.
They went head to head time and time again on two teams that had hated each other for years and brought the hate to a new level.
THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER LARRY BIRD OR "MAGIC" JOHNSON!
5. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
They fought the three most highly anticipated bouts in the history of boxing.
Those fights didn't disappoint one bit.
There first fight was called the "Fight of the Century," and it was all that and more. Both men were a combined 57-0 going into that fight, but one man had to come out with a loss. In the end, it was Muhammad Ali.
However, it only got better from there.
Ali-Frazier II was great, and the "Thrilla in Manila" was even better.
"The Thrilla in Manila" was the final bout between maybe the two greatest boxers of all time. The pre-fight was almost as good as the fight with Ali getting in Frazier's head.
The climax to this unbelievable trilogy was one of the greatest moments in sports history. Ali came out victorious in the end, but the real winners were the people who got to watch it.
4. Ohio State vs. Michigan
What can you say about Michigan-Ohio State?
The two schools hate each other, and for good reason.
They have played each other a total of 106 times, and in the 106 games, every man watching knew that anything and everything could and would happen.
It didn't matter what your record was going into one of these games because the end result was always unpredictable.
They have combined for 18 national championships, 10 Heisman winners, 80 bowl game appearances, 76 Big Ten titles, and 256 All-Americans.
3. UNC vs. Duke
These schools are just eight miles apart. However, you wouldn't know it judging by the hate these two teams share for each other.
Michael Jordan, Coach K, Grant Hill, Dean Smith: Does it really get much better?
The two most storied college basketball teams in the nation have combined for some of the greatest basketball games of all time (college or pro).
It doesn't matter which color blue you bleed; no Duke, UNC, or even college basketball fan would even consider missing one of these games.
It just seems whenever these teams play, something magical happens.
Michigan-Ohio State is great, but the best rivalry in the history of college sports is UNC vs. Duke. Period.
2. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
These are the two most dominant teams in NBA history, and it's not close.
Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Kevin McHale, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Cousy, Kobe Bryant, John Havlicek, Jerry West, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson.
These are just a few of the all-time greats that participated in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
These teams have combined for a remarkable 33 NBA championships. They have met in the NBA Finals 11 times. Their rivalry also featured the greatest player rivalry of all time in Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird.
In the 1980s they helped re-energize the NBA, which was starting to lose its popularity.
They are the two greatest franchises in basketball history and have helped create a rivalry that will never, ever be forgotten.
1. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Yankees-Red Sox is not a rivalry. It is The Rivalry.
Ever since the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees back in 1918, this rivalry has taken off—which made every Yankee-Red Sox game from 1918 on more than just a game.
The "Curse of the Bambino" caused crazy occurrences, such as the famous Aaron Boone walk-off home run in '03. The Red Sox just could not catch a break.
As great as the rivalry already was before 2000, it has gotten even better, with Pedro Martinez famously calling the Yankees "his daddy" or Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in the game to long.
Bucky Dent was outdone by Aaron Boone, and the Sox finally won in one of the craziest playoff series of all time back in 2004.
Yankees-Red Sox is and always will be the greatest rivalry of all time, and nothing can and ever will change that.