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. 67RIEFNS No. 7: Warriors’ starting lineup

    Oct 2, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut dominated last season and return for more

  2. Does Serge Ibaka know who Mitch McGary is?

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day 2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day

    Thunder forward says he doesn’t (unless he’s joking like Kevin Martin)

  3. D-League considers rule change: Players attempt one free throw on all trips to line

    Oct 1, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard Dwight Howard

    Get fouled on a missed 2-pointer – one free throw worth two points
    Get fouled on a missed 3-pointer – one free throw worth three points

  4. Injury updates: Lakers Ryan Kelly, Jazz’s Carrick Felix both out for a while

    Oct 1, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Media Day Getty Images

    Two young players trying to prove to new coaches they deserved minutes. This is a real setback for both.

  5. LeBron co-producing children’s show about beginnings of himself, other top athletes

    Oct 1, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    The show is on Disney XD. I suppose there are worse things your child could watch.

  6. Phil Jackson compared J.R. Smith to Dennis Rodman. Smith likes that.

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    J.R. Smith AP

    Thing is, Rodman fit the triangle and what Jackson wants to do with a team. Smith…. not so much.

  7. Greg Monroe calls offseason rumors surrounding him ‘lies’

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT

    Greg Monroe Greg Monroe

    Monroe had a busy offseason in terms of appearances in the NBA’s news cycle.

  8. Rajon Rondo doesn’t rule out opening night return for Celtics

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:41 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Broken hand is supposed to sideline Rondo for 6-8 weeks.

  9. K.J. McDaniels takes unique approach to rookie contract with Sixers

    Oct 1, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    Second round pick foregoing additional guaranteed dollars in order to bet on himself.

  10. Klay Thompson refutes report he was ‘pissed’ about being included in trade talks for Kevin Love

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Klay Thompson Klay Thompson

    Reminder not to believe everything you read, especially if it’s attributed to ‘a source.’

  11. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Charlotte Hornets

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets Media Day Charlotte Hornets Media Day

    The new-look Hornets, with Lance Stephenson in tow, are hoping to build on a playoff run and a promising young core.

  12. Kobe Bryant plans to play in all 8 preseason games for Lakers

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kobe wants to shake the rust off before the games count for real later this month.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3733)
  2. K. Bryant (3457)
  3. R. Rondo (3275)
  4. R. Allen (2408)
  5. D. Wade (2340)
  1. D. Williams (2283)
  2. N. Noel (2032)
  3. K. Leonard (1979)
  4. M. Smart (1929)
  5. D. Rose (1905)