The best sports rivalries require something that makes each city passionate about the game and a history in which the two teams have played in big games against each other. Chasing for the same prize and the ability to end the other teams’ season is a powerful motivator, especially when one team has been the obstacle to the other.
For example, the 2010 NBA Final Game 7 between longtime rivals Los Angeles and Boston still is the second highest rated NBA game of all-time. The two teams have met in the finals twelve times, which higlights one of the other important elements of a great rivalry – it has to be a clash of the titans and not a consolation game to see who sucks least.
In contrast, SB Nation does a good assessment of the Anaheim Angels-Oakland A’s non-rivalry, since while both teams have been frequent contenders in the American League West they rarely have been contenders at the same time.
With that in mind, both Los Angeles and San Francisco have seen a resurgence in their sports tams (with the Lakers being a glaring exception), bringing the spotlight back to this I-5 rivalry. Last week, as the baseball season got into swing with series between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s and Anaheim Angels, basketball and hockey prepared to launch their playoffs with the greatest buzz surrounding first round series between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.
So what are the greatest of the NoCal/SoCal rivalries in recent memory (so no Rams-49ers).
Are They Good?
- From the late 1990’s to mid 2000’s, the Sacramento Kings emerged as a power in the Western Conference, finishing first or second in the Pacific Division five straight years. and winning the division twice.
- In 2002 they had the best record in the NBA.
- Yet it was the Los Angeles Lakers that went to the NBA finals four times and won three championships in this period
Are They an Obstacle?
During this five year run, the Lakers eliminated the Kings three times – the last time in a epic seven-game conference final with the Lakers pulling off the rare feat of winning a game 7 on the road in overtime. The series, however, never would have reached a Game 7 had not a missed shot bounced out towards Robert Horry who nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to prevent a 3-1 Kings advantage.
The 2002 Conference Finals
The Bleacher Report lists this new rivalry as the best in the NBA this season.
Are They Good?
- The Clippers and Warriors have finished #1 and #2 in the Pacific Division two-years in a row.
- Before that the Warriors had missed the playoffs 17 of the last 18 years.
- It was the Clippers third winning season in a row and only the second time the team had made it to the playoffs three years in a row. From 1994-2011 they had only been to the playoffs twice.
- The Warriors are the team the once woeful Clippers have beaten the most (84 times versus 114 losses).
|10||Golden State Warriors||198||84||114||.424||20838||21442||105.2||108.3|
Are They an Obstacle?
- The two teams are fighting for supremacy in their division and in the conference. This series will cement the team’s status with each other as an obstacle.
- But what is really evident is that they dislike each other completely. In the 11-games the two teams have played in the past two seasons (including the current playoff series), a technical and/or flagrant foul was called in all but one game.
It has been an exciting series, so the dramatic moments are happening we speak.
Hon Mention: Los Angeles Dodgers v Oakland A’s
They have met twice in the World Series (including the first ever all-California series), with each team winning once 4-1. But the “rivalry” deserves some recognition since it has one of the World Series’ most memorable moments.