Can Rivalries Exist Without Hate?


At the risk of being laughed at, run from Celtics 24/7 and branded a trader after only one day I will put myself out there. I like the Lakers, I genuinely do. I would not root for the Lake Crew over the Celtics, never in a million years. But if the Lakers are playing the Heat in the regular season or even the Orlando Magic in the Finals I will root for the Purple and Gold. Does that make me any less of a Celtics fan? Some people will say yes. I need to ask why.

Competition, rivalry, trash talking, its all fun. But there is no reason people need to take it that extra step. I have seen tires slashed over a bumper sticker. Seriously? $500.00 damage to a stranger over a sticker.

There are rivalries all across sports, but speaking from experience, in Boston you are expected to hate the rivals. Why is that? It obviously happens across the world, if you have ever seen a Manchester United match against Chelsea FC you know exactly what I mean. And how about wearing a powder blue jersey and walking across the Duke quad. Bet you go home naked. And if you have ever been to a Red Sox game you know that a “Yankees Suck!” chat does not necessarily mean they are playing against New York.

All of this really seems very Romeo & Juliet to me, we hate because our families/fans tell us history says we should hate. The Detroit Red Wings playing the Colorado Avalanche is still a brutal game and it all stems from a cheap shot 10 years ago that only one player initiated. How is Claude Lemieux responsible for a hatred between two cities that still exists and he is long retired?

Back to Celtics v Lakers, it was my initial topic.

Rivalries are important, the Celtics in LA and LA in Boston is the first game I look for when the NBA schedule comes out, I want to see Boston play LA. I want to see Boston beat LA. In a bad season just beating LA makes life good for one day and makes you feel like you won the Finals. Beating LA means you beat the best, I assume this holds true for the Lakers and the fans of LA. But why must I hate them. Why must I root for the New Orleans Hornets or the Oklahoma Thunder two teams I do not care one hoot about to beat a team with meaning to me? It frankly makes little sense.

Is Kobe a good player? Yes, absolutely.

If you ask 10 people in Boston how they feel about him you will probably get 10 unique profanities to describe Kobe. If Kobe played for the Hornets, the original team the drafted him, then people would see him just as they see Kevin Durant or Chris Paul and Bostonians would be ambivalent to others fandom. You want to raise and call Kobe’s character into question and say it is all about his alleged crime, I have the perfect re-raise.

Pau Gasol.

He is one of the best rebounders in the league, a threat to put the ball back in your face twice and put up another 20 on the score board. Yet he is the second most hated guy if you ask a Boston basketball fan, behind of course Kobe. Now raise your hand if you hated Pau in Memphis and you get a gold star. No hands? I keep all my stars.

Rivalry is healthy, but when did it dictate blanket dislike. It’s a game. It’s a great game, but in the end it is still just a game. I don’t want to see Kobe and Pierce giving bro-hugs on the court and I would take Rondo over my knee and spank his fanny if I saw him shooting pool with Pau at Felt following a loss, but what makes me need to hate them for the simple fact that they play in LA. For the record they can bro-hug and play pool from July to October, it is all business in season.

I know, I know the repetitive question is starting to get old but I don’t understand so I will keep asking.

In elementary school or junior high I forget which, I owned a bad ass pair of Converse sneaks that were white with purple and gold trim, yep the Magics. I also had a satin Magic Johnson jacket to match from Manny’s Baseball Land an old mail order sports apparel place. I loved Magic Johnson, still do, greatest basket ball player I have ever seen play. Rondo is coming close. But I was ridiculed for my shoes and jacket and told there was no way I could be a Celtics fan if I liked Magic. How many people love Jordan and wear his shoes everyday. I do, and never once have I been criticized for my Jordans, ever. Why were my Magics so blasphemous? Because he played in LA. Had Jordan played in LA could I wear my kicks in Boston? I doubt it.

I would blame my father but my father did not like basketball. Maybe I should, maybe that is why I have no hate for the Lakers. I liked the Yankees growing up, probably out of defiance to my father who is a Sox fan. Today I could careless about baseball, that is unless I go to Fenway. Just seeing their face when you wear a Yankee hat is worth the aggravation of the posturing and people refusing to give you the common decency of holding a door when your hands are full. Got to love the argument of family dynamics as an excuse, not buying it though.

Think about it. Why do you hate the Lakers? It’s not the City of LA because the Angels and Dodgers are not hated. In that case we didn’t dislike the Montreal Expos to equal the Bruins-Habs rivalry. Give me a reason to hate a sports team. In fact, I pose you a challenge, give me a good reason I need to hate a rival. I don’t mean beat them, you want your team to beat everyone that is just a given, it’s called commitment. But why is there a need for me to dislike a team to the point that every team in the league is more favorable just because over the years this said team has been my teams’ best competition. Give me a solid reason and I will concede, I will find those Magic shoes if they still lurk in a closet and burn them, I will burn my Lakers tshirt, and will mail you the ashes. But if you have any sense of decency you will make a comment and support this post by admitting somewhere deep down inside you could not live without the rivalry.

Rivalry is good. But rivalry does not need to mean hate. Think about it. If this was 1980 and Saturday Flint, Duke and Scarlett would come out and give you a PSA, I won’t play on your childhood like that, it would be unfair.

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About The Shogun of Baseball

Geek, lover of Baseball, avid comic reader, Bruce Lee fan, follower of Jesus and last but Never least Dad and Husband. View all posts by The Shogun of Baseball

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