There is no denying the popularity of sports in modern society. Droves of fans flock to fancy stadiums and cozy arenas every year to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and favorite teams. Simply stated, Americans love to watch sporting events and especially those which pit two common opponents against one another. This is also known as a rivalry and there have been plenty of great ones that have marveled us throughout history.
Here is a rundown on five of the more notable ones:
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The two teams have met in the regular season 277 times and another 12 times in the NBA Finals. The rivalry reached its peak in the 1980s when Magic Johnson starred for Los Angeles and Larry Bird starred for Boston. The Celtics have held the upper hand between the two by winning 9 of the 12 NBA Finals matchups and by boasting a 155-124 regular season record overall. Entering the 2013 NBA Finals, the Lakers and Celtics have combined to account for 33 of the 66 championships in NBA history.
Jack Nicklaus vs Arnold Palmer
The feud between Nicklaus and Palmer is widely regarded as the best rivalry in golf history. The two were routinely jockeying for position atop tournament leaderboards in the 1960s. Nicklaus, also known as “The Golden Bear”, captured 18 major championships in his career and ranks third on the all-time PGA Tour list with 73 victories. Palmer, nicknamed “The King”, ranks fifth on the all-time PGA Tour with 62 wins. The two players are often credited for popularizing the sport around the world.
New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox
There is certainly no shortage of history between these two clubs. The rivalry’s first meeting took place in 1901 and has produced over 2,000 meetings ever since. New York owns a considerable edge in the overall regular season series (1,145-960-4) and pulled off one of the biggest steals in sports history when buying Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1919. This led to the superstition known as the “Curse of the Bambino” and it wasn’t until 2004 when Boston finally broke through and won a World Series, again. Meanwhile, the Yankees won 27 World Series titles during that span.
Duke Blue Devils vs North Carolina Tar Heels
This rivalry is often considered one of the fierce in men’s college basketball. The Tar Heels lead both the all-time series (132-104) between the two schools and they also hold a slight edge in national titles won (UNC-5, Duke-4). The campuses are separated by a mere 10 miles and the two teams routinely see each other on the hardwood due to playing in the same conference. Both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels rank among the top five in overall wins in college basketball history.
Connecticut Huskies vs. Tennessee Lady Volunteers
No two programs have achieved the success in women’s college basketball as Connecticut and Tennessee. They have met 22 times since their first meeting in 1995 and four of those meetings have come with a national title on the line. The two schools have combined to win 16 national championships and have sent dozens of players to the WNBA. Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma and Lady Volunteers head coach Pat Summit are regarded by most as two of the most competitive and successful coaches in the history of women’s college basketball.
Honorable Mentions: Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan Wolverins (college football), Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins, Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins, Alabama Crimson Tide vs Auburn Tigers (college football), Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Southern California Trojans (college football), Kentucky Wildcats vs Louisville Cardinals (college basketball), Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers, Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer, San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers, Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier
Jimmi Adair is the creator and publisher of Bush League Chronicle and Redlegs Review. He has been a blogger within the FOX Sports Yardbarker Network since June 2011.