Can Rivalries Exist without Hate?

At the risk of being laughed at, run from Celtics 24/7 and branded a trader after only one day I will put myself out there.  I like the Lakers, I genuinely do.  I would not root for the Lake Crew over the Celtics, never in a million years.  But if the Lakers are playing the Heat in the regular season or even the Orlando Magic in the Finals I will root for the Purple and Gold.  Does that make me any less of a Celtics fan?  Some people will say yes.  I need to ask why.

Competition, rivalry, trash talking, its all fun.  But there is no reason people need to take it that extra step.  I have seen tires slashed over a bumper sticker.  Seriously?  $500.00 damage to a stranger over a sticker.

There are rivalries all across sports, but speaking from experience, in Boston you are expected to hate the rivals.  Why is that? It obviously happens across the world, if you have ever seen a Manchester United match against Chelsea FC you know exactly what I mean.  And how about wearing a powder blue jersey and walking across the Duke quad.  Bet you go home naked.  And if you have ever been to a Red Sox game you know that a “Yankees Suck!” chat does not necessarily mean they are playing against New York.

All of this really seems very Romeo & Juliet to me, we hate because our families/fans tell us history says we should hate.  The Detroit Red Wings playing the Colorado Avalanche is still a brutal game and it all stems from a cheap shot 10 years ago that only one player initiated.  How is Claude Lemieux responsible for a hatred between two cities that still exists and he is long retired?

Back to Celtics v Lakers, it was my initial topic.

Rivalries are important, the Celtics in LA and LA in Boston is the first game I look for when the NBA schedule comes out, I want to see Boston play LA.  I want to see Boston beat LA.  In a bad season just beating LA makes life good for one day and makes you feel like you won the Finals.  Beating LA means you beat the best, I assume this holds true for the Lakers and the fans of LA.  But why must I hate them.  Why must I root for the New Orleans Hornets or the Oklahoma Thunder two teams I do not care one hoot about to beat a team with meaning to me?  It frankly makes little sense.

Is Kobe a good player? Yes, absolutely.

If you ask 10 people in Boston how they feel about him you will probably get 10 unique profanities to describe Kobe.  If Kobe played for the Hornets, the original team the drafted him, then people would see him just as they see Kevin Durant or Chris Paul and Bostonians would be ambivalent to others fandom.  You want to raise and call Kobe’s character into question and say it is all about his alleged crime, I have the perfect re-raise.

Pau Gasol.

He is one of the best rebounders in the league, a threat to put the ball back in your face twice and put up another 20 on the score board.  Yet he is the second most hated guy if you ask a Boston basketball fan, behind of course Kobe.  Now raise your hand if you hated Pau in Memphis and you get a gold star.  No hands? I keep all my stars.

Rivalry is healthy, but when did it dictate blanket dislike.  It’s a game.  It’s a great game, but in the end it is still just a game.  I don’t want to see Kobe and Pierce giving bro-hugs on the court and I would take Rondo over my knee and spank his fanny if I saw him shooting pool with Pau at Felt following a loss, but what makes me need to hate them for the simple fact that they play in LA.  For the record they can bro-hug and play pool from July to October, it is all business in season.

I know, I know the repetitive question is starting to get old but I don’t understand so I will keep asking.

In elementary school or junior high I forget which, I owned a bad ass pair of Converse sneaks that were white with purple and gold trim, yep the Magics.  I also had a satin Magic Johnson jacket to match from Manny’s Baseball Land an old mail order sports apparel place.  I loved Magic Johnson, still do, greatest basket ball player I have ever seen play.  Rondo is coming close.  But I was ridiculed for my shoes and jacket and told there was no way I could be a Celtics fan if I liked Magic.  How many people love Jordan and wear his shoes everyday.  I do, and never once have I been criticized for my Jordans, ever.  Why were my Magics so blasphemous?  Because he played in LA.  Had Jordan played in LA could I wear my kicks in Boston?  I doubt it.

I would blame my father but my father did not like basketball.  Maybe I should, maybe that is why I have no hate for the Lakers.  I liked the Yankees growing up, probably out of defiance to my father who is a Sox fan.  Today I could careless about baseball, that is unless I go to Fenway.  Just seeing their face when you wear a Yankee hat is worth the aggravation of the posturing and people refusing to give you the common decency of holding a door when your hands are full.  Got to love the argument of family dynamics as an excuse, not buying it though.

Think about it.  Why do you hate the Lakers?  It’s not the City of LA because the Angels and Dodgers are not hated.  In that case we didn’t dislike the Montreal Expos to equal the Bruins-Habs rivalry.  Give me a reason to hate a sports team.  In fact, I pose you a challenge, give me a good reason I need to hate a rival.  I don’t mean beat them, you want your team to beat everyone that is just a given, it’s called commitment.  But why is there a need for me to dislike a team to the point that every team in the league is more favorable just because over the years this said team has been my teams’ best competition. Give me a solid reason and I will concede, I will find those Magic shoes if they still lurk in a closet and burn them, I will burn my Lakers tshirt, and will mail you the ashes.  But if you have any sense of decency you will make a comment and support this post by admitting somewhere deep down inside you could not live without the rivalry.

Rivalry is good.  But rivalry does not need to mean hate.  Think about it.  If this was 1980 and Saturday Flint, Duke and Scarlett would come out and give you a PSA, I won’t play on your childhood like that, it would be unfair.

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Hunter Thomas
As a lifetime New England sports fan, Hunter was determined in October of 2005 to finally start using that passion and determination to create the site now known as Celtics 24/7. Formerly known as Celtics Pride, Celtics 24/7 has become one of the most well-respected and followed Celtics websites. Our motto “For Fans, By Fans” rings entirely true as we’ve built and grown a community of passionate and enthusiastic Celtics fans. It all starts with you–the fans, and I appreciate every single person who supports us on our journey to the top.


  1. pharmacy technician

    August 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  2. Viva

    August 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Why would you mention ManUtd & Chelsea as an example, when the equivalent is LFC & ManUtd rivalry, with LFC being in premier league what are Celtics in NBA. Take that from a supporter of both clubs. Or do a little research of your own.
    With everything else, I almost agree ;). But I will be rooting for the Heat against Lakers, ’cause I like Wade more then Kobe, and more then I dislike James. I am not talking ’bout facts who is better, or whatever, it’s just how I feel.

  3. RoswellSounds

    August 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Of course rivalries can exist, and hate has nothing to do with it! Hate is the most basic feeling towards something we don´t aprove or understand. BASIC. ANIMAL. BASIC. ONE WAY. HUMAN. DEAF. WEAK…

    Hate itself would not even approve a rivalry! Hate would kill the opponent and take a bath in his/her/their blood. To have a rival is to respect the ability of your EQUAL, and to have the courage and strenght to beat your rival in a FAIR match.

    Hate? Humanity can wipe out thousands of persons without thatn miserable, dated excuse…


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  5. David Acosta

    August 3, 2010 at 2:32 am


  6. David Acosta

    August 3, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I get what you’re saying…..kinda. I respect the Lakers, because they are proven and on our level. The Cavs on the other hand were a mirage. And now that mirage has flown south. F**k LeBron James, I loathe him and his hyped persona. Now with that said, I will be rooting against Miami the entire season, no matter what the stakes.

    This photo below was twitted by Nate Robinson, AFTER a Finals loss to the Lakers. I talked so much s**t about this shot to Nate. Prolly why he won’t do an interview.


  7. HB24

    August 3, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Wow…..a great article. I respect your truthfulness and your guts to say that (a celtic fan) say you respect kobe and gasol. I am a laker fan myself and I have the utmost respect for the celtis and absolutely love Rondo. I think he is the best point guard in NBA by far. He has surpassed CP and DW in that category. And Garnett is still on my top PF of all time. I bet that many lakers fan feel the same way.

    “Greats respect greats!” Kudos for your ballsy article. I’ll be rooting for the celtics to destroy the Heat in the playoffs.

  8. Kayleigh

    August 2, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I’d be lying if I said I’d be happy about it, hell I don’t think I would, just because of how cocky they are. I’d probably have mixed feeling about it. One a rival lose, the other an athele I dislike most won a championship. It’ll be a lose lose siituation. But hey the Heat have to get through Boston first, and the way they played against the Lakers in the finals, I won’t be easy for them. 😀

  9. Kayleigh

    August 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I only hate the players when Boston plays them other than that I don’t hate anyone from the Lakers or the Yankees, I have respect for the players on both team. Except I strongly dislike Alex Rodriguez, but that’s about it. However I would NEVER find myself rooting for either Yankees or Lakers. If Red Sox don’t make the play-offs this tear im hoping Tampa Bay wins the World Serise, and hoping they beat the Yankees to do it. 🙂

    Around the time Chris Bosh, and Lebron James went to the Heat, I was saying I hope they don’t win a championship because of Wade saying that they “will” win multiple rings, but if it was against the Lakers, i’d root for them to win.

    Basically i’d never root for either teams. Some of it has to do wirh the history, sometimes if the players get into it, but the most of it has to do with their fans, if a cocky Lakers or Yankees fan (or god forbid both) makes fun of me because I root for Celtics/Red Sox, or the teams itself im gunna root extra hard for them to lose just so it’ll make those those fans miserable.

    I think Boston has some of the most passionate fans because our teams are involved in two or the biggest rivalries in sports, and both of them have a history that dates back to the beginning of the sports their involved in.

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  11. Dustin Chapman

    August 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Amen bro. I agree with you about 90%, because I do think it’s a little weird for you to root for the Lakers in a series vs. Orlando or what have you… but that’s just me. Never “root for” the Lakers. Also, that Lakers t-shirt you speak of… I wouldn’t wear it.
    But your primary topic… absolutely agreed. Why should you “hate” a rival to the point where you brainwash yourself? And as you noted, most fans don’t legitimately hate the Lakers or Yankees. They just go with the trend.
    I am an absolute die-hard Celtics fan. I watch every single game. Hell, up until last season I would write about every game with previews and recaps. I did that for all 82 games in 06-07 when we won 24 games. Watched every minute of that 18-game losing streak. With that said, Kobe Bryant is one of my favorite players. Pau Gasol is one of my favorite players. Do I want the Lakers to win? Not at all, but I do like to watch them play and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let forced green-shaded ignorance deprive me of appreciation for good basketball.
    As a BASKETBALL junkie, I have to appreciate what the Lakers are doing right now. I have to appreciate the greatness of Kobe, I have to appreciate watching a seven-footer as complete/skilled as Pau Gasol, and I have to acknowledge the success of Phil Jackson (though I don’t like Phil – he is a smug prick).
    Quite frankly (miss you Stephen A.), I feel sorry for the people that allow utter ignorance to withhold them from accepting all-time great franchises, players and coaches. I especially feel bad for the Kobe haters, because he is one of the best players to ever play this game and THE best player of his time… but those people will never get to appreciate just how special he is.
    I will say this though… I’m only 21 years old. Who knows how high my “Laker hatred meter” might be had I witnessed the Celtics/Lakers bloodbaths of the 80’s or the near-annual showdown back in the 60’s. Regardless, it is sad how far some people take it, especially when they do it to blend in rather than something they truly stand for.

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