Top 5 Greatest Sporting Rivalries

Israel ButsonCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2008

In this week's Top 5, we're looking at the five greatest sporting rivalries.

It doesn't matter what sport you watch, there are always a couple of teams or countries that clash, and want nothing more than to beat their arch rival. It's these clashes that produce the greatest games to watch.

In this Top 5, we've gone with team/country rivalries rather than individual rivalries, which will be a whole different Top 5.

So, here we go:

5. Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

This fierce rivalry dates back to the 1960s, when the Boston Celtics dominated the NBA, defeating the Lakers six times in eight years to claim the NBA Championship. The rivalry came to represent the working class Celtics, up against the Hollywood-lifestyle Lakers.

The rivalry really began to heat up in the 1980s when both sides were on top of the NBA pile, and the two sides renewed there battle for supremacy. What made the rivalry during the '80s even greater was the individual player rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It helped to re-popularise the NBA, which, due to poor crowd numbers, was struggling financially at the time.

The rivalry between the two disappeared during the 1990s, when basketball was dominated by the Chicago Bulls, and one Michael Jordan. But in 2008, the world was reintroduced to the greatest rivalry in basketball history. The Celtics and Lakers met in the final for the first time in 21 years, with the Celtics clinching the series in Game six.

Could it be the rebirth of the famous rivalry? Only time will tell.


4. Australia vs England, The Ashes

The Ashes is one of the greatest rivalries in all of cricket. Since 1882, Australia and England have battled it out for the famous "Urn". The two sides have met in 64 Ashes series, usually consisting of five Test matches, with Australia winning 31 and England 28 (five series have been drawn).

Australia has dominated the Ashes over the past twenty years, with England's best result coming in 2005 when they defeated the heavily favoured Aussies, only to lose the following series 5-0. As far as rivalries go, the Ashes series is amongst the best, and some of the greatest moments in cricket history have come from this great competition.


3. Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees

This rivalry is one of the oldest in sports history, and is considered one of the greatest in American sports. The origins of this rivalry go back to 1920, when a young Babe Ruth was sold by Harry Frazee to the New York Yankees. This sparked the beginning of the Yankees' rise in baseball, the downfall of the Red Sox, and the famous "Curse of the Bambino".

It would be 86 years before the Red Sox would win another World Series, while the Yankees would go on to win 26. In 2004, the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, before going on to win the World Series. The rivalry between these two famous teams has since flared up again, with the Red Sox returning to the winning ways, and once again becoming a dominant force in baseball today.


2. New South Wales vs Queensland, State of Origin

State vs State, mate vs mate. It doesn't get any better than that, as the country boys from Queensland take on the city slickers from New South Wales.

The intense rivalry between these two states produces the greatest, most anticipated rugby league games of the year. Once the players pull on their respective jerseys, it's war. It doesn't matter if your club team mate plays for the other team. During the State of Origin series, he's your enemy.

You only have to look at some of the fights to know that the players will do anything to beat the other State. Queensland has the edge over New South Wales, winning 17 of the 29 series, and has dominated the past three years.

But, such is the intense rivalry between the two states, that there is never an easy win for either side. These games are truly some of the most brutal in all sports. How could you not love it?


1. New Zealand vs Australia

Rugby, cricket, league, netball, anything between these two countries. When it comes to sports, it's simple: We don't like them, and they don't like us. When it comes to rugby, it doesn't matter how badly Australia have been playing, they always save their best when it's time to face the All Blacks. The same, too, can be said for the Black Caps. Ok, so in league we struggle to beat the Aussies, but watch out when we do, because nothing annoys the Kangaroos more than losing to the Kiwis. There's no greater victory for a New Zealander than one over the the Aussies, and vice versa.

And no greater rivalry in sport.