Why Can't We Be Friends? Current Trend Setting a Horrible Example

Benny VargasAnalyst IJuly 11, 2010

Let me preface this story by saying I am stoked that the Miami Heat were able to land the three marquee free agents this offseason.

With that said, there is one glaring concern that comes to mind. There was a time when you respected your competition but in no way were you "close friends" with them. 

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird respected each other off the court but hated each other on it. Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller might have a cordial relationship now but during their playing days absolutely despised each other. Alonzo Mourning's idol was Patrick Ewing—they both went to Georgetown—but do you think that ever came into play when the Knicks and Heat were battling every year in the playoffs?

This kind of contempt for your opponent is good for sports. It breeds rivalries. Creates a fire that goes beyond just winning and losing.

Pat Riley despised the trend he was seeing in the league. Suddenly players from opposing teams were joking around and hugging each other before tip off. To an "old-school" guy like Riley this is a huge faux pas.

You are meant to hate the other team while competing versus them. You should loathe the person you are going up against in such a way that if he/she spontaneously combusted your next step should be to hide all bottles of water and instead hand them a cooler filled with gasoline.

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Yet here we are in an age when sports stars who should be rivals are hanging out at clubs together hours after playing versus one another.

Some of this can probably be blamed on sports agents. You might be playing against someone but then share a mutual agent. This could be one way to forge friendships between players.

Another hindrance is the expansion of technologies that allow social networking. All these athletes are tweeting each other. They're facebook friends and text each other after games.

This leads to another concern: being able to message each other during games, possibly controlling the outcome of a game between two opponents so as to help a friend make a great deal of money in Las Vegas thanks to some inside information.

The one good thing about Bosh, James, and Wade teaming up is that it seems to have served as an incendiary. Suddenly there are rabid fans who are battling back and forth over the legitimacy of this joining of "All Stars."

Fans across the country are bickering on whether the Heat can beat Chicago or Boston. Can they match up with Orlando's or Los Angeles' big men in the paint? Is LeBron a coward or intelligent?

Hopefully this tit-for-tat banter between teams fans will somehow ignite and fuel big-time rivalries. It'd be great if suddenly players from other teams would refuse to shake hands before tip-off with Heat players.

If this happens, then there will be fierce battles and on-court drama to look forward to. Players would be trading barbs through the media. If one guy falls while playing, you step on his leg instead of giving him a helping hand up.

If it doesn't, then sports could be taking a turn for the worse. Friends wanting to play together, not wanting to deliver a hard foul on your buddy as he goes for a lay-up or dunk would hurt the game. I guarantee the latter has already happened as friends wouldn't want to injure one another. Fans want bad blood between players/teams; they need bad blood between them.

When it comes to capitalism, Gordon Gekko (Wall Street ) once said "Greed is good." Well, when it comes to sports, a strong disdain for your opponent is good.