Skip to content

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

Sep 19, 2012, 10:33 AM EST

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. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins trade baseline dunks (VIDEO)

    Nov 26, 2014, 1:15 AM EST

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    This rivalry is the best thing about the NBA this season.

  2. Kobe Bryant: “We’re not a 3-11 team. We’re not.”

    Nov 25, 2014, 9:30 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    They are that bad because of their defense.

  3. Some Sixers season ticket holders are understandably ticked off

    Nov 25, 2014, 7:50 PM EST

    Understanding what the team is doing and paying good money for tickets are different things.

  4. Rumor: Rockets may bring in Al Harrington to bolster front court depth

    Nov 25, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards: Game Four Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards: Game Four

    This is a sign of how thin the front line pickings are for teams wanting depth.

  5. Timberwolves’ Kevin Martin out 6-8 weeks following surgery on fractured wrist

    Nov 25, 2014, 3:20 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Minnesota Timberwolves Chicago Bulls v Minnesota Timberwolves

    He will be back before the trade deadline, not that he’s that easy to move.

  6. Carmelo Anthony listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game at Dallas

    Nov 25, 2014, 2:45 PM EST

    Carmelo Anthony Carmelo Anthony

    Anthony was forced out of Monday’s game against the Rockets with back spasms.

  7. Paul Pierce signs an autograph for a fan during game against Bucks (VIDEO)

    Nov 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Paul Pierce AP

    Pierce loves his fans — especially those from his days with the Celtics.

Featured video

Could Sixers be worst team in NBA history?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (9102)
  2. D. Wade (7709)
  3. P. Gasol (6931)
  4. K. Durant (6175)
  5. D. Howard (5992)
  1. K. Martin (5530)
  2. T. Jones (5045)
  3. R. Westbrook (4984)
  4. O. Asik (4958)
  5. D. Lee (4607)