Despite what happened at the hands of LeBron James and the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, there’s plenty of time left in this series for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks to make a statement.
However while it’s still Knicks vs. Heat, one thing is still missing from this series and from the NBA in general- the rivalry.
The team hatred seems like it could get back to somewhere where it was in the 1990’s, but that’s going to take some Knicks victories to really consider this a rivalry from both ends once again.
One thing it is definitely missing is the individual rivalry.
There’s a serious lack of rivalries in today’s NBA. Never again will we probably ever see anything close to the days of Magic vs. Bird, but something close would be nice.
Dating back to the 2003 NBA Draft when LeBron went No.1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers and ‘Melo went No. 3 overall to the Denver Nuggets, many expected this to become the next great individual rivalry in the league.
Things haven’t quite worked out that way.
Usually a great rivalry comes with high stakes and with both guys having a big goose egg in the championship column, that opportunity hasn’t presented itself.
Then there’s the fact that with Melo playing in Denver and James playing in Cleveland, the two superstars met only twice a year from 2003-10. The opportunity to establish such rivalry didn’t present itself with neither playing real meaningful games against one another.
Now let’s fast forward to the year 2012 and the first-round of the NBA Playoffs.
Everyone expects to see this big individual rivalry between the two, but it will never happen.
For one, LeBron has owned Melo since he joined the Knicks, especially during the 2012 season where Anthony and the Knicks have been beaten four times by an average of 17.25 PPG by the Heat on the season. These games mean something on paper but until New York truly gets into a spot where they can be a factor against teams like the Heat for many consecutive years, this isn’t really a rivalry.
Looking at the individual aspect of the rivalry, until Melo And LeBron go through each other in the Eastern Conference Finals a few times, they won’t be playing meaningful games. Neither guy has won a big game through their nine year career, but up the stakes and we may get something big from the two guys.
But the biggest reason why this will never be a rivalry is the state of the NBA today.
In today’s age where superstars can force their way too any team they choose and marketing dollars mean more than anything that happens on the court, the NBA rivalry has been tossed out the window.
LeBron and Melo are great friends on and off the court, which hurts the chances of any real good rivalry emerging. There’s simply no hatred there.
Bird and Magic were friends, but once they threw the ball in the air, the hatred took over. That can be said about any great rivalry in the history of the game.
That will just never be the case in today’s NBA. In days of old, superstars didn’t care if they were liked or not. But it’s way too important for a guy like LeBron to be liked by everyone. He doesn’t have it in him to have a killer instinct against anyone.
Sure, the two are two of the greatest players in the NBA, but legitimate rivals?
I don’t think they are even close.