by Rob Joyce
The NBA has quickly become a year-round phenomenon. The draft, the start of free agency and even the Summer League have become can’t-miss events. In a sport where the players don’t wear masks or helmets, are able to market themselves through their sneakers and are as recognizable as any athletes in the world, short of perhaps Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Roger Federer.
Part of the reason the NBA is so fun is because the “beefs” and pettiness that has always existed have blown over to social media and the 24/7 news cycle. It’s essentially reality television through Instagram posts, fashion choices and press conference quips. But in a league with so many personalities, which rivalries have risen above the rest?
5) John Wall vs. NBA2K:
The popular video game series isn’t just for fans – players enjoy it as well, and they take notice of their ratings. The Wizards’ All-Star point guard took exception to his 90 rating, and let one of the game’s developers hear about it on Twitter.
It might have been tongue-in-cheek… but was it really?
4) LeBron James vs. the Knicks:
Admittedly the most surprising, this story could be far from over. Last
weekend James said the Knicks should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr., not Frank Ntilikina, an odd quote to which New York’s Enes Kanter took exception via Twitter. Fast forward to the Cavs-Knicks game on Monday at Madison Square Garden, James bumped the rookie after a dunk, Kanter interfered and a shouting match ensued.
After the game – featuring a big Cleveland fourth quarter comeback – the words continued: Kanter facetiously referred to James as “The King”, LeBron clapped back calling himself the King, his wife the Queen and his daughter the Princess.
3) Kevin Durant vs. Russell Westbrook:
We thought we had seen the end of the feud between former teammates. They had their little in-game spat when they played one another, but it was otherwise tame by NBA standards. There’s bound to be more, though, after Durant meant to respond to some Twitter hate from a fake account he created, but gave himself up by accidentally hitting “send” from his verified account.
While not necessarily directed at Westbrook in particular, we’re sure the triple-double machine will respond when the Thunder and Warriors meet on Nov. 22.
2) LeBron James vs. Kyrie Irving:
In short, despite going to three straight Finals and winning one with James, Irving asked out of Cleveland because of LeBron fatigue. Assorted subtweets are exchanged, with Meek Mill lyrics thrown about. Irving then gets traded to the Cavaliers’ biggest threat in the East, the Celtics. Publicly both players say all is well. Yet when Kyrie dropped 35 on the Hawks last week, a night after Atlanta beat James and the Cavs, LeBron took to Instagram.
It’s going to be a fun year in the East.
1) LeBron James vs. the Warriors:
Notice a trend here? When you’re fighting for “GOAT” status, you make some enemies along the way. The beef really should be Cavs vs. Warriors, but in reality most of Golden State’s barbs are aimed at James. Steph Curry and Co. mocked James’ offseason Instagram workout videos at Harrison Barnes’ wedding. Draymond Green wore a “Quickie” championship t-shirt after Golden State beat Cleveland in five games last year (the Cavs play at Quicken Loans Arena), to which James responded with a “that’s what she said” Instagram post – that was liked by Russell Westbrook and James Harden, among others.
Give us Cleveland-Golden State Part IV, please.