Replacing Legends: The NBA’s Struggle To Find the Next Bird-Magic Rivalry

June 8th, 2010 by Tyler Conway Leave a reply »
True rivalries are by far the greatest aspect of sports for fans.  Not last-second buzzer beaters, not Cinderella stories, or even championships.


Rivalries are everlasting.  Rivalries create excitement for even the most mundane contest.  Rivalries turn rational businessmen into petulant children when their side loses. 

Rivalries create tall-tales you tell to bore your children and grandchildren with: You wax poetic about the pageantry, the greatest game, the greatest players, and the greatest "holy s---" moments.

Finally, you highlight one of the two pillars of great rivalries: pure hatred toward the opposition.

Every fan of the opposition is a spawn of Satan. Every one of their star players is on steroids, amphetamines, or antelope testosterone.  You feel the hatred in every fiber of your being.

While fuel the fire that burns every rivalry, the greatest rivalries are ignited organically.

Take the greatest individual rivalry (save for possibly Ali-Frazier) in sports history—Larry Bird and Magic Johnson—for example.

There is absolutely ...

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