Note: This list is a representation of the best rivalries at the moment and not of all time.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
- Knicks vs. Nets – This budding rivalry shows great promise since the Nets moved from New Jersey (yuck) to Brooklyn, and the recent surge of both teams as legitimate contenders. The Knicks and Nets currently hold the two top spots in the Atlantic Division and sit at No. 2 and 4, respectively, among the top of the Eastern Conference. The teams split four matchups this season seeing Carmelo Anthony leading the scoring in every game with an average of 35 points per. The only thing holding this rivalry back is the feeling that the Nets still seem like the little brother of the Knicks and need to break out of that shadow.
- Mets vs. Yankees – The peak of this rivalry was during the 2000 Subway-World Series. The Yankees dynasty of the era handled the Mets in just five games, and things have been on the downswing every year since. The most heated parts of the rivalry over the last few years includes Brian Cashman accusing the Mets of abusing Pedro Feliciano leading to his injury troubles and Frank Francisco calling the Yankees chickens, not the best material. The days of Doc Gooden beating the Mets as a Yankee, Roger Clemens beaning/throwing bats at Mike Piazza, and Shawn Estes attempting to bean Clemens are days of the past. With the Mets performance over the last few years it does not look like this rivalry is about to heat up anytime soon either.
- Jets vs. Dolphins - Another great rivalry that has lost a lot of its luster. The highlight of this rivalry at the moment is being the battle for second place in the AFC East. Rex Ryan flipping off Dolphin fans was a nice touch and Tim Tebow playing against a Florida team would have surely added fuel to the fire, but it does not look like that will happen. The Dolphins look on their to becoming a decent/good football team, and if the Jets can replace Mark Sanchez with at least somewhat of a competent quarterback, this rivalry has a chance to be restored to its former glory.
- Xavier High School vs. Fordham Prep – I have to give a shout out to my former high school and the longest running rivalry in New York City football, dating all the way back to the late 1800′s. The game is played on Thanksgiving and even features members of the Xavier High School JROTC getting on the field doing pushups much like the Navy football team. Historically, Fordham has gotten the better of the Knights, but the Knights won the last meeting on their way to the AA championship and a feature of ESPN SportsCenter.
- Syracuse vs. Georgetown (Basketball) – College rivalries are easily my favorite type of rivalries, and the Orange/Hoyas is head and shoulders the best New York college rivalry there is at the moment. John Thompson may have single-handedly started the rivalry, but it has been the sucess of each program that has carried on the tradition. With ‘Cuse currently as the 6th rank team, and Georgetown just missing out of the top 25, it is safe to say these two should continue to butt heads in the near future.
1. Yankees vs. Red Sox – Until baseball fails to exist, this will be the number one rivalry in sports, period. Having experienced the rivalry in both New York and Massachusetts, I say I have never seen a pair of fans hate each other more. It is almost disturbing how much these fans detest each other. Even in 2012 when the Red Sox were not a contender, the colorful Bobby Valentine made sure to keep the heat up by starting trouble with the Yankees stars and manager. Even without Valentine’s ludicrous comments stirring the pot in 2013 many more headlines are sure to pop up. For starters, while it likely won’t live up to the return of Johnny Damon to Fenway, I highly look forward to the return of Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes against the Sawks. This rivalry has been so publicized and is so good that there is not even much left to say about it. You just have to tune in, watch it, and enjoy.
2. Knicks vs. Celtics – Thanks to Kevin Garnett, this historic rivalry has been fully restored to all its greatness. Being two of the only teams left from the BAA’s inaugural season, these two go way back. After a layoff, the rivalry started heating back up as the Knicks became a competent team once again. They were, however, subsequently swept by the Celtics in their first year back to the playoffs after a seven year drought. At one time, there were great moments between Larry Bird and Bernard King, and now we have KG vs. Melo. The two resorted to school boy antics with KG’s trash talk and Melo taking things out to the parking lot to “talk about it.” The best part of the whole controversy is that while I understand the sentiment behind KG’s alleged comments, I thought it made almost no sense and sounded like something a child would come up with. Surely one of ‘the best trash talkers in the game’ can do better than that. I fear the loss of Rondo could hurt the competitiveness of these games, but it is not something I would miss should these teams meet in the playoffs.
3. Giants vs. Cowboys – In my mind this rivalry never gets old. It still surprises me that such a big rivalry happened between a team in Texas and a team in
New York New Jersey. Then I remember how many people I know who live in New York and are Cowboys fans and all of that goes away. Some of the more memorable recent highlights include Michael Boley breaking Tony Romo’s clavicle, the Giants scoring two touchdowns with less than six minutes remaining and Jason Pierre-Paul blocking a game tying field goal with seconds left, and Romo overthrowing Miles Austin who “lost the ball in the lights” to ultimately lead to the Giants Super Bowl run in 2012. My favorite moment, however, has to be Eli Manning signing the wall of Jerry Jones’s $2 billion dollar playpen with the inscription “33-31 First win in the new stadium.” Not exactly the type of thing I expect from Eli, but it will go down as one of the more classic moves he has made during his career. With RG3 increasing the competitiveness in the NFC East, winning the division has become even more important, and making these games even better, as each team knows it needs these two games.
4. Rangers vs. Flyers – Call me a bit of a homer with this pick as I write this piece watching the Rangers
lead beat the Flyers, but hockey is able to take rivalries to a whole other level. There is only one stat I have to throw out there, 8-1 9-1. That is the Rangers record vs. the Flyers over their last nine ten meetings, which includes eight straight wins, an epic win in the Winter Classic, and a clean sweep of the Flyers in 2011-12. If there wasn’t a huge rivalry between these two teams already, try to imagine the Flyers’ mindset as the Garden crowd reminded them over and over again “You can’t beat us” last year and each and every time they failed to beat the Rangers. You can bet that creates even more animosity between the two clubs. The rivalry even escalated to the point where a group of Flyers fans assaulted a Ranger fan, and former Marine, outside of Geno’s. While that is the ugly side of the violence between these two teams, watching the physicality on the ice is unmatched right now. It is not quiet the Avs/Red Wings of the 90′s but that does not make it any less exciting to watch.
5. Jets and Giants vs. Patriots – Each of these rivalries is cut from a different cloth. The Giants was created when Eli Manning decided to beat Tom Brady in amazing fashion at the Super Bowl…twice, and led the Giants to a late fourth quarter comeback in Foxborough that made the 2012 Super Bowl run possible. The Jets/Pats on the other hand is, at the most basic level, a division rivalry. Then there is all the extracurriculars that really took off with the Eric Mangini/Bill Belichick saga. I have never in my life seen so much drama revolve around a handshake than with the protégé and the mentor. It created great drama between the teams and yet is ridiculously silly at the same time. Rex Ryan did not skip a beat when he came on board and immediately targeted Brady and Belichick with his comments. However, it was Wes Welker who got the best of Ryan when he made eleven foot references leading up to the Jets/Pats playoff game. Ryan did not let it escalate, but the damage was already done. 2012 was a memorable year for the rivalry with one of the best games of the season during the first matchup and one of the biggest embarrassments of the season in the second matchup. That embarrassment was the same game that gave us the butt fumble, the singe play that summed up the Jets’ entire season, so we say thank you. The play never seems to get old so we might as well close out the article by watching it once more.