This is what the NBA is built on.
From Russell versus Wilt to Magic versus Bird to Kobe versus LeBron, rivalries are the foundation of the league.
They’re how David Stern markets his product and, fortuitously for the commissioner, no league produces rivalries like the NBA.
Perhaps it’s the rules of the game—everyone shoots and everyone defends—that promote such matchups, or perhaps it’s the propensity to rely on individual stars. Or more likely still, it’s that we can see the emotion on those stars' angry faces and in that way we relate to their struggles.
Of the four major sports, it is the basketballers of whom we speak most personally. As such, those are the rivalries we tend to remember.
Here are the best of the league’s current crop, with no name appearing more than three times so as not to make our list too incestuous.