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No matter what Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker say, potential exists for intriguing individual rivalry

Jun 27, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT

State Farm Champions Classic - Duke v Kansas Getty Images

BROOKLYN – Andrew Wiggins left the NBA draft interview room and stepped into a Barclays Center hallway occupied by Jabari Parker.

Minutes earlier, Parker followed Wiggins – hearing Adam Silver call his name, standing up, hugging those closest to him, walking onto the draft stage, shaking Silver’s hand, going through an interview circuit – in a clear pecking order. The Cavaliers drafted Wiggins No. 1, and the Bucks took Parker No. 2.

Ever since Joel Embiid’s foot injury, Wiggins and Parker had been the clear favorites to go 1-2. Only the order remained uncertain. Cleveland, Milwaukee and analysts everywhere debated the choice.

Once it was made, there was no ill will between the prospects. Parker said he and Wiggins wished each other well when they crossed paths.

“You always want to wish good on people,” Parker said. “We don’t take a good enough job embracing each other and uplifting each other.”

There’s certainly potential for an individual rivalry between the top two picks, both headed to Midwest cities. They met once in college, when Wiggins (22 points and eight rebounds) led Kansas over Parker (27 points and nine rebounds) and Duke in November.

These are the storylines David Stern wanted to foster when setting the age limit and Adam Silver wants to enhance by increasing it. It’s working, returning the days when players were easily identifiable – and marketable – upon entering the NBA.

Last top-two picks to play against each other in college? Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams in 2011.

Last top-two picks to play the same position? Andrea Bargnani and LaMarcus Aldridge in 2006.

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Last top-two picks to play the same position and play against each other in college? Tim Duncan and Keith Van Horn in 1997.

Wiggins (a 2/3) and Parker (a 3/4) can play multiple positions, but they’re primarily small forwards. Of course, both stressed their versatility and willingness to play wherever desired.

They also agreed that any talk of a personal rivalry was unwarranted, at least from their perspective.

“Good players will always be compared to each other, you know, but I never think of anything as a rivalry,” Wiggins said. “I think that’s what the media portrays it to be.”

“It’s not my job to compare,” Parker said. “I’m going to leave it to y’all. It’s your duty and your job to stir up controversy.”

I’ll give it a shot. Wiggins won his college matchup with Parker. Did Parker believe he lost again by not going No. 1?

“No,” Parker said. “What does the draft really give entitlement to, the best player? You got Doug McDermott scoring 3,000 points. Shoot, you got Julius Randle went to the national championship. Shabazz Napier won two National Championships.”

That’s nice spin, but it’s not reality. College success does not translate directly to the NBA, and according to most evaluators, Wiggins and Parker were the draft’s top prospects.

Wiggins-Parker could evolve into an must-watch rivalry.

Of course, that’s not a given. Williams, Bargnani and Van Horn never held up their ends of the bargain with Irving, Aldridge and Duncan.

This will develop only if Wiggins and Parker become stars.

It would help if the pair expressed more interest in challenging each other, but don’t count on that.

  1. mvp43 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    It will be fun to watch these guys. I think they’ll both turn out to be great players in the league for many years. This could very well turn out to be the best draft in recent memory.

  2. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    With the media spearheading it, of course there can/will be.

  3. csbanter - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    There are no rivalries in todays NBA. Guys are too complimentary of one another. Magic would have never complimented Bird and vice versa. Besides the Cavs and Bucks are years away from becoming NBA powers. Put it this way, the day Wiggins and Parker are hailed as rivals and both teams are good the Cubs will win the World Series.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      there are GREAT youtube videos of magic and bird… one is a bit over an hour long but it’s fantastic.

      after they were each in the league several seasons and both already superstars, magic went out one summer to French Lick and to Bird’s place to film a commercial.

      when it was time to break for lunch, magic was ready to get into him limo and head off and bird said no, come up to the house, my mom’s made lunch.

      magic went with bird to eat and meet his mom and had a good time.

      they finished the commercial and then that next fall when they played each other the first time magic said i though bird was gonna be friendly as we’d gotten to know each other away from the game… as magic was more outgoing, charming etc…

      bird ignored his azz and gave him the cold shoulder. the commercial was done and it was war.

      So, magic did and would have complimented Bird… but Bird wouldn’t budge an inch. Magic said OK, so that’s how it’s gonna be…

      of course Bird was not outgoing and charming like magic was.

      the nba couldn’t have picked a better two to revitalize the league. there was a lot of racial tension back in the 70’s and with bird and magic they had black and white, east and west. boston and la, the two most successful franchises, then one of the players was so outgoing and charming and the other one was quiet, surely.

      it was fantastic… later on in their careers they became friends. magic went to the boston garden to attend bird’s retirement cerement and came out with a bird jersey on underneath his shirt.

      magic took the microphone to speak to the crowd (by the way, the garden was filled and there was NO game… they didn’t just retire his jersey at halftime. no game at all, place packed)…

      and magic said “there will never ever ever be another Larry Bird…”

      I was born and raised in Indiana and began high school in 1981 and was a huge bird fan…

      I respected magic from michigan state, fellow big ten country as i ended up going to IU for college.

      I LOVED watching Bird and Magic play in the early 80’s when I was in high school…

      I so wished the NBA would have some players like these two again…

      • kingtotz - Jun 28, 2014 at 6:02 AM

        A Courtship of Rivals. I watched this and it was sooooo amazing. I knew Bird & Magic’s rivalry but there was so much more into that story than i ever knew.

    • trevor123698 - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      parker blows

  4. hojo20 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    There will never be a rivalry. Both teams will never be good because elite free agents won’t sign in either city. I don’t hear Lebron being courted by the Bucks.

    • clevelandrox - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      thats funny, because the cavs were good when they had lebron….psst, here’s a little secret- you can draft good players too…see okc

    • bougin89 - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:30 PM


    • campcouch - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      Elite FAs didn’t sign in San Antonio…or OKC…actually,so far Miami seems to be the only team. Everyone else was traded or drafted.

      • campcouch - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        I’ll correct myself. Howard did sign in Houston.

  5. tomcreanshair - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Philly? Midwest???

  6. tomcreanshair - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM


  7. pistolpete0903 - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    Playing in the same division will surely help in making this a rivalry atleast for the first couple of years. However, both of them have to become stars (if not superstars) to make this come true.

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