Skip to content

Winderman: The NBA is too nice. We need some real rivalries.

Sep 19, 2012, 10:33 AM EDT

Kevin Durant, LeBron James AP

Dwight Howard somehow now is friends with Stan Van Gundy and hopes to eventually be remembered fondly in Orlando.

LeBron James returned to Cleveland last season saying he would not rule out perhaps one day again playing for the Cavaliers.

Ray Allen took out a full-page ad in Boston to remind Celtics fans how much he cherishes their time together.

Grant Hill is back in Phoenix speaking fondly about his time with the Suns, even after moving to a division rival, with the Suns talking about Hill one day moving into their front office.

Know what the NBA needs just about now? Something along the lines of bounty-gate.

Because leagues are at their best when rivalries are pure, lines are drawn, when you’re either with us or against us.

Oh, there’s still some of that in today’s NBA, including the surliness of Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins toward anyone not in their team’s colors, and the one-upmanship between the front offices of the Nets and Knicks, but at a time when Kevin Durant is working out alongside LeBron, it does tend to take the edge of what the NBA once was, the pulsating chants of “Beat L.A.!” even when you weren’t actually playing L.A.

During a recent community even in Boston, Celtics coach Doc Rivers urged a singular approach for the coming season for his players: “I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That’s gotta be our focus.”

Instead, we’re getting Hornets players working out alongside Spurs players in San Antonio, open gyms around the NBA featuring visits by opposing players, including one just the other day from Derek Fisher at the Lakers’ facility.

To a degree, this is a global community the NBA has forged, a shared bond of furthering the game, if not necessarily furthering rivalries.

It is why Mark Cuban remains somewhat refreshing with his Mavs-vs.-the-world approach, why we now, more than ever, can appreciate how Pat Riley had so fervently preached against fraternization.

The Heat were fun last season because they were compelling. They might have been more fun the season before, when they were loathed.

You may not condone what Greg Schiano pulled this week against the Giants, but he made it clear this was not about winning friends. It was about competition, a line that sometimes gets blurred in today’s NBA.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Latest Posts
  1. Tim Duncan drags seemingly drunk teammate to Spurs bus night of Game 7 loss (video)

    May 4, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Seven

    San Antonio players went out in Los Angeles after losing to Clippers

  2. PBT Second Round Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets

    May 4, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    James Harden, Chris Paul AP

    It all starts with the answer to this question: How healthy is Chris Paul?

  3. Chris Paul’s MRI negative, is game time decision for Game 1

    May 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder Getty Images

    The drop off from Chris Paul to Austin Rivers should scare Clippers fans.

  4. Watch John Wall attack as Wizards take Game 1 in Atlanta (VIDEO)

    May 4, 2015, 12:10 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    Wall looked like one of the best point guards and leaders in the game Monday.

  5. Ginobili, Duncan, Popovich dance around questions about Spurs’ future

    May 3, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT

    Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    Nobody wanted to talk about the future in the wake of an emotional loss.

  6. Watch Stephen Curry play like MVP, spark Warriors to Game 1 win (VIDEO)

    May 3, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Jeff Green AP

    The Grizzlies have some work to do defensively to slow Curry.

  7. Reports: Stephen Curry to be named MVP Monday

    May 3, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Harden comes in second in the voting.

  8. Warriors cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

    May 3, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Memphis, minus Mike Conley, looks completely overmatched (as expected)

  9. Hawks start hot, finish cold, Wizards take Game 1 on road 104-98.

    May 3, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    It was a tale of two halves, and the Wizards took the key one.

  10. Doc Rivers on whether Chris Paul will play in Game 1 vs. Rockets: ‘If I had to guess, I would say no’

    May 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Paul battled through a hamstring injury during his incredible Game 7 performance.

  11. PBT Second-Round Playoff Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks

    May 3, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Wizards could make things difficult on the top-seeded Hawks.

  12. Adjusting for playoff rotations round two: Watch out for the Wizards

    May 3, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Kent Bazemore, John Wall, Paul Pierce AP

    Cavaliers could be OK against the Bulls (even without Kevin Love), Warriors remain favorites and more lessons from the first round

  13. Rumor: Orlando taking time to start coaching search waiting on Thibodeau situation

    May 3, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Tom Thibodeau AP

    Thibs may not want to go to Orlando if he becomes a free agent as a coach.

Featured video

Thunder take risk with Donovan, but calculated one
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. M. Conley (5163)
  2. K. Love (4801)
  3. R. Rondo (4016)
  4. C. Parsons (3449)
  5. K. Durant (3425)
  1. K. Bryant (3264)
  2. J. Smith (3259)
  3. P. Beverley (3047)
  4. A. Varejao (2905)
  5. P. George (2841)