The Passion of Rivalries

iStock_000012556984XSmallAs I write this latest Struming the Boston Celtics and Los Angles Lakers have begun their NBA Championship series. Celtics-Lakers is the preeminent NBA rivalry and they have won 17 and 15 NBA Championships, respectively. This is the 12th time they have played each other in the finals with the Celtics holding a lopsided 9-2 edge largely built in the 60s,  The latest incarnation of the rivalry allows us to recall the former battles—Bird/Magic, Wilt/Russell, etc. I have to admit that although I am a lifelong NBA fan, my interest in the game sometimes wanes (perhaps that’s because my Knicks have stunk for so long). However,  a Celtics-Lakers finals renews my interest, and has far more widespread appeal than a Mavericks-Magic NBA final would.

What makes rivalries great is the passion we have for one side or the other. The pleasure of victory is enhanced by the defeat of the hated opponent. But sometimes a rivalry is merely rooting for the opponent of the “hated” team—I would put Notre Dame football, Yankees baseball, Duke basketball on the list. Love or hate ‘em you, if you are a fan of the game you can’t help but be more interested if these teams are involved, and perhaps your “favorite team” du jour is merely the opponent of those hated teams.

Rivalries exist in business as well particularly among service firms. Obviously they have little universal awareness, but when a professional service firm comes up against the same rival often, the competition heats up and the passion to beat out the competition is at its highest. I think this is good, because rivalries bring out the competitive nature in us all. And competition is good–see May 31 Struming on competition.

For those of you who are sports fans, and I suspect most Strumings readers are, here’s my official unscientific ranking of what I believe are the greatest sports rivalries:

1. Yankees-Red Sox

2. UNC-Duke men’s basketball

3. Army-Navy football

4. Lakers-Celtics

5. Ohio State – Michigan football

Each of these rivalries have history, passion are captivating and I suspect will continue in the years to come. Interestingly though rivalries exist in the NFL and NHL, I don’t think any NFL or NHL rivalry matches the ones above, at least none stand the test of time.

I would enjoy hearing any thoughts you have on rivalries you think I have missed. I’m also  particularly interested of your motivation in the workplace when your firm comes up against your hated rival in the big pitch. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Strum on……

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