It is "Rivalry Week" here in Philadelphia. The Mets are in town to face the Phillies, the Union take on the Red Bulls and the Sixers play the Celtics. But are the Celtics still the biggest rival of the 76ers?
One of the most storied rivalries in professional basketball is between Philadelphia and Boston. For years these two cities feuded over Eastern Conference basketball dominance.
First it was the Philadelphia Warriors against the Boston Celtics...Wilt Chamberlain against Bill Russell. Then the 76ers' Dr. J against Larry Bird, then Moses Malone and the "fo-fo-fo", then Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce.
There was the Boston Strangler, Andrew Toney and the infamous 1983 exhibition that featured 3 separate fights. Unfortunately, now this rivalry has taken a nose dive.
There has not been a significant game between these two teams since 2002, when the Sixers were beaten in the first round of the playoffs. Boston during this time has become an elite NBA team, while the Sixers disappeared from any form of playoff contention.
Now that the Sixers are relevant once again, could the rivalry be renewed? I feel like the fans don't hate Boston like they used to. Maybe they should. I tried to come up with a few reasons why fans in Philadelphia should hate the Celtics. It was not easy. They are one of the last true "teams" in the NBA. Some people think they are arrogant, or dirty, but in my opinion they play the game the way it should be played.
That's not saying there's not a reason to hate them.
The major reason why I believe the Celtics can once again be the most hated team in Philadelphia is Kevin Garnett.
He is the kind of player you hate unless he plays for your team. To tell the truth, even if he played for the Sixers I would dislike him. My reasons stem from an incident a while back when he was in Minnesota.
Rick Rickert, a second round pick for the Timberwolves, was playing pick-up with the team prior to the start of the season. According to witnesses, Rickert was cold-cocked by Garnett during a scrimmage. Rickert's only crime seemed to be outplaying the cocky Garnett...working hard like any second round draft pick should.
This bothers me on so many levels. When you are a second round draft pick, you need to go all out every day. Garnett is much like Vince Vaughn's character in Rudy, getting angry because he was outplayed and out hustled by a no name player. However, instead of rectifying the situation with a selfless gesture, (Blowing off the Victory Formation play-call for a half back pass in order for Rudy to get on the field.) he sucker punched the poor guy.
Having played against Rickert and socialized with him on several occasions, there is no one in this world less punchable than Rick.
Kevin Garnett lost my respect that day.
My other big issue with the Celtics is Paul Pierce. I don't even mind him as a player, or a person...But the feigning of injuries needs to stop. Anytime you need to be carried off the court you should be out of action for, at the very least, a few weeks. There is no way you should be back in the same game. The body doesn't work like that. No sprays, pills, or massages can fix an injury that quickly.
So does everyone still think the Celtics and Sixers are rivals? Let's look at the numbers. The Sixers are averaging 14,518 fans per game. In the two games against the Celtics in Philadelphia however, the average attendance was 19,281. Apparently the fans still believe the Celtics to be a worthy adversary.
I was born and raised to hate Boston, but lately I have started to despise another team even more. A team we have competed against over everything from Lottery balls to playoff position during the past few years...The New York Knicks.
Technically a rivalry consists of an understood hatred between two teams. In my opinion, location alone can't instigate a rivalry. There needs to be a game, or a playoff series that defines the hatred. An incident which took the two teams from competitors to rivals. The Knicks and 76ers have far less history than the Celtics and 76ers, however my hatred for New York is growing.
A lot of it stems from my overall hatred for all teams in the Big Apple. I don't mind New York City in general, just its fan base, teams and overall smugness. Case and point; a friend of mine who is a New York fan, once called Philadelphia fans "Wannabes". It's that bit of arrogance I can do without. Yea I know, New York has won more titles than any other city, but when you have two teams for nearly every sport it is bound to happen.
So would the Knicks make a better rival to the Sixers? We already dislike them because of their location. But like I said, it can't come down to a hatred of the city. There needs to be something about the team that makes you want to throw up in your mouth. Luckily for us, the Knicks have repeatedly exercised my gag reflex.
NBA players have always thought highly of themselves. There is an air of confidence about them that, quite frankly, is deserved. However, the swollen heads on some of these superstars is sickening. Every human being in this world had an opinion on "The Decision" last summer. I am not going to reiterate how painfully self absorbed it was, instead I will describe the poor example it set on the rest of the league.
Carmelo Anthony was due to become a free agent this summer, yet that did not stop him from publicly announcing his intent to play for the New York Knicks. Understandable of course, he wanted to go to a larger market team and have a better life with his wife Lala in New York City. Leaving Denver, one of the cleanest places in the United States, to go to NYC, a place smelling of urine and car exhaust, for a better life?
Carmelo, it is called Proventil, it's an asthma medicine...thank me in 5 years.
To be perfectly honest, I don't really blame Carmelo for his actions. He has a nine story T-Mobile ad on the side of a building. He is also living happily with his wife and child. Can you really blame the guy for wanting to leave Denver?
So if Carmelo won't instigate a feud between these two teams, what will?
Maybe Mike D'Antonio's "Score as many points as possible, because we play no defense" system?
Maybe the fact that the Knicks have two superstars and we have none?
All of these are valid points, but what these two teams need is a physical, hate filled game...A game featuring a good amount of pushing and shoving. A back and forth battle rivaling the Knicks Bulls series of the 90's.
As the Knicks and 76ers get younger, the Celtics get older. What these two teams lack in history, they make up for in fan hatred. So far this year, the Sixers have taken 2-3 against the Knicks. With the fourth and final game of the year in just under an hour...a game with major playoff implications on the line, expect both teams to come out swinging.
Sorry Celtics, it is the New York Knicks that we hate.