Miami Heat superstar LeBron James has never really bought into the rivalry narrative — be it on an individual level, or between teams.
Tuesday night, prior to the big showdown in Indiana between the Heat and Pacers, LeBron declared that true, hate-filled rivalries no longer exist in the NBA.
Per the Palm Beach Post:
“What is a rivalry these days?” he pondered rhetorically. “A rivalry is Celtics-Lakers. They met like four out of five years. Bulls-Pistons. Those are rivalries. We’ve played these guys two years in the playoffs and guys automatically make it a rivalry. There’s no real rivalry in the NBA these days. You don’t see the competition enough. These teams are really, really good teams striving to win a championship. But rivalries, man? There are no more rivalries.
“It’s the truth. I’ve thought about that. There’s no more rivalries. There isn’t. Cowboys-Redskins is a rivalry. Ohio State and Michigan is a rivalry. Duke and North Carolina is a rivalry. [Dwyane Wade interrupts with, ‘Bears-Packers’] Bears-Packers is a rivalry.”
Before the Pacers’ 90-84 win last night, the Heat did everything they could to downplay the significance of this first meeting of the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. Indiana and their rabid fans, meanwhile, seemed a lot more fired about the whole thing.
LeBron allowed that, despite his belief that no true NBA rivalries exist anymore, should these two squads clash again in the Playoffs, he’s open to changing his mind.