Sports fans love their teams. They worship the ground their players walk on and support them through the good times and the bad. Being a fan of a team or an individual naturally means you come across rivals who have a passion for their own stars. Sometimes, these rivalries are incredibly fierce and even hostile, making for an electric atmosphere when the players battle it out against each other.
What causes a simple meeting of two teams to become a rivalry? The proximity between the teams’ cities and states is a catalyst. For example, teams based in New York want to be known as the best team in the state. In addition, states want to get one over on their rivals. Other rivalries are forged by shared success as each team or person battles to become the overall number one in their field. Whatever the cause, these three rivalries are the fiercest in all of sport.
Los Angeles Lakers versus Boston Celtics
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are two of the NBA’s most successful teams, so, unsurprisingly, they have a rivalry that sends shivers down one’s spine; they despise each other! Anyone online sports betting in California looks forward to the Lakers taking on the Celtics, especially if the game takes place at the Lakers’ Crypto.com Arena home.
Both the Lakers and the Celtics have more than two dozen of their former stars inducted into basketball’s Hall of Fame. In addition, they have both won the NBA Finals 17 teams; no other franchise has yet reached double-figures. These sides have met in the finals 12 times, with the Celtics coming out on top nine times.
The rivalry has died down a little since the 1990s when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird retired, but ask any Lakers or Celtics fan who they love to beat, and they will all give you the same answer.
Chicago Bears versus Green Bay Packers
Take two successful football teams, place them within driving distance of each other, and you have all the ingredients for a blockbuster showdown when the two teams meet. The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are two of the NFL’s most successful franchises. They have won 22 NFL Championships, including five Super Bowls, between them, and have almost 50 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
There are only 172 miles between Chicago and Wisconsin, so the close proximity of the teams causes plenty of friction. Bears fans disparagingly call the Packers “cheeseheads” but the Packers embrace this and wear bright yellow helmets.
The Chicago-Milwaukee/Wisconsin rivalry has sparked other battles in other sports, including the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers versus Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bulls versus Milwaukee Brewers in the NBA. Don’t you just love sports?
Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali
Boxing creates fierce rivalries by its very nature because the boxers literally beat one another to a pulp. There have been many boxing rivalries, but none as prominent as Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali in the 1970s.
Frazier won the first of three fights by unanimous decision. Ali refused to accept defeat, saying the outcome was a “White Man’s Decision” after being previously stripped of his titles for refusing to enroll in the Vietnam War. Ali went as far as saying Frazier was an Uncle Tom and a puppet for white people.
The pair fought again in what was billed as the Super Fight II. Ali won the fight with a unanimous decision despite clinching Frazier 133 times during the encounter. They met for the third time in the “Thriller in Manila,” which was one of the most eagerly anticipated boxing matches in history. It was an epic encounter with both fighters giving their all. Frazier’s trainer stopped the fight before the start of the 15th round because of the damage Ali caused him. Ali later revealed he was about to quit too.
The rivalry continued long after the pair retired. Ali lit the Olympic Flame in Atlanta in 1996. Now suffering badly from Parkinson’s disease, Ali managed to light the flame in what was an emotional display. However, when asked about it, Frazier told the televised press that someone should have pushed Ali into the fire! Old rivalries die hard.