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Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Top Five Rivals

Casey WomackCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2011

Oklahoma City Thunder's Top 5 Rivals

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    With two full seasons under the city's belt, the young Thunder squad has some fresh developing rivalries. 

    With that being said, clearly the Thunder do not have a huge rival like the Celtics have with the Lakers. 

    Although, in just two-and-a-half seasons, the Thunder have had some very intense games with a small number of teams.  Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka can get an attitude on occasion and might brew up some heated situations. 

    But Westbrook is like a scrappy basketball version of Floyd Mayweather, and Ibaka is from the Congo.  Would you really want to take the chance of stepping outside with them?

    Even without the intense altercations, there have been some extremely intense games that had a lot at stake involving Oklahoma City.

    Maybe the botched call in Utah or the last second tip-in has something to do with a few of the teams that the Thunder aren't fond of.

    With that being said, check out the top five teams that the Thunder can call new rivals.

5. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Every time these two squads play each other (which seems weekly), they play with a lot of energy to out-show each other. 

    Memphis and Oklahoma City are like two best friends that grew up together, and one is successful and overshadowing the other.  But when they play, they're trying to get bragging rights until they play next.

    Rudy Gay and Kevin Durant are close friends and always get very competitive when they play—and it's a blast to watch.

    Because these two teams are young and on the come up, the energy is amazing, and it's fun to watch young teams actually give effort on the defensive end.

4. San Antonio Spurs

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Possibly the most respected team in the West. 

    The Thunder and Spurs always have intense games, despite the Spurs' consistent conservative approach in the regular season.

    It's the wise veteran team versus the young athletic team.  And just like in Good Will Hunting, the old and wise have showed up the young more times than not.

    The Spurs are exactly what the Thunder pattern themselves after, just 10 years later.

3. Dallas Mavericks

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    It's no secret that the players from both these teams don't like each other, especially this season.

    Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry have consistently talked enough trash during and after games to successfully start a rivalry in one season's time.

    Ibaka and Chandler don't get along too well, especially in the paint going for a rebound.

    Jason Terry is smart.  He decides to direct his talking towards the Oklahoma City fans rather than the players, who could actually come in contact with him without being arrested. 

    Attitudes aside, I don't remember one Dallas game where the game wasn't close for the majority of the way. 

    Jason Kidd turns into an assist machine and Jason Terry comes up clutch far too many times against Oklahoma City.

2. Utah Jazz

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I hate Utah.  The coaches hate Utah.  Kevin Durant especially hates Utah.

    Anytime you play a very important game with playoff seedings on the line, both teams are going to be fired up and have a lot of Kevin Garnett-like passion to their game.

    Last season when Kevin Durant was blatantly fouled at the last second, but never got the call, was the first time I've ever really seen Durant lose his cool.  And deservedly so.

    Every game last year with Utah was a tough, 12-round boxing match that both teams gave it their all.

    And the awful missed call on Durant ended up costing the Thunder the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, and eventually led to OKC having the last seed and playing the dreaded Lakers.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    For whatever reason, Oklahoma City gets under the Lakers' skin.

    When the Thunder come to town, Kobe decides to be 22 again and slam it down, and Lamar Odom tries to get in a fight every time.  Plus, Ron Artest deciding to play the most annoying defense is just the cherry on top.

    In summary, the Lakers turn it up when they play Oklahoma City.

    (Side Note: Should I take it as disrespect that Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant refuse to call the Thunder by their actual name? They refer to them solely as "Oklahoma."  Not "Oklahoma City" or "Thunder," just plain "Oklahoma.")

    The Lakers are the only team Oklahoma City has ever played in the playoffs. Granted, the Thunder have only existed for two-and-a-half years, but it's still true.

    But in the regular season last year, all the games were intense, and the Thunder-Laker series was arguably the most exciting round in the entire playoffs last season.

    Ibaka blew a kiss to Artest when Artest tried to act like his typical self. 

    The Westbrook dunk on Lamar Odom will always be in my brain as the single best Thunder moment in the foreseeable future.  Actually, the 8-0 run in 30 seconds to tie the game in Game 3 that was started by Westbrook's dunk might be competing for the No. 1 moment.

    Clearly, the Lakers are the No. 1 team the Thunder want to knock off every time.  The passion is there.  The excitement is there.

    And the rivalry is definitely there.

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