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 Monday, January 3
The 10 greatest rivalries
 
ESPN.com

 10. Giants vs. Dodgers
A rivalry spawned in New York transferred to the West Coast in 1958. It reached its most famous moment in 1951, when Bobby Thomson's home run beat the Dodgers to win the pennant. When the clubs fought for National League pennants in the '60s, they were also constantly fighting on the field, including the infamous episode when Juan Marichal attacked Johnny Roseboro with a bat. Giants fans loved it when Joe Morgan's homer knocked the Dodgers out on the final day in 1982; Dodgers fans loved it when their team knocked out the Giants in 1993.

9. Redskins vs. Cowboys
The intense loyalty of these teams' fans helped this rivalry hit a peak in the '70s and early '80s. Redskins fans hated Tom Landry, the shotgun offense and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Cowboys fans hated George Allen, Joe Theismann and that ridiculous logo. When they played on Thanksgiving, there were more than a few turkey legs thrown at the TV in disgust.

10 we wish still existed
1. Army vs. Navy
In the '40s and '50s they were football powerhouses.

2. Lakers vs. Celtics
The Showtime Lakers vs. blue-collar Boston in the '80s was basketball at its best.

3. Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova
They played 80 times, with Navratilova holding a 43-37 edge.

4. Texas vs. Oklahoma
This football border war was a classic from the '50s through the mid-'80s.

5. Willie, Mickey and the Duke
From 1954-1957, baseball's three best center fielders all played in New York.

6. Richard Petty vs. Cale Yarborough
Or Petty vs. David Pearson, or Petty vs. ...

7. Packers vs. Bears
Halas. Lombardi. Butkus. Nitschke.

8. AFL vs. NFL
The AFL may have been the more exciting league.

9. Affirmed vs. Alydar
Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. Alydar finished second in each race.

10. Jerry Rice vs. Deion Sanders
Before Rice's injury, this was a duel of all-time greats.

8. Auburn vs. Alabama
The "Iron Bowl" is the quintessential intrastate football rivalry. In fact, the series was discontinued from 1908 to 1948 because of a long-standing dispute over a referee and per diem pay for players. When the schools finally agreed to play again, the game had to be held in Birmingham, a neutral site with tickets split equally. Auburn finally hosted Alabama for the first time in 1989 and set a stadium attendance record. The most famous meeting came in 1972. Both teams entered with one loss. 'Bama led 16-0 entering the fourth quarter, but Auburn returned two blocked punts for touchdowns and won 17-16. "Punt, 'Bama, Punt," became a famous slogan.

7. Red Sox vs. Yankees
Some say this is merely a media creation, and it's somewhat true, since the two teams have rarely battled head-to-head for the pennant. But, remember this: the Red Sox were the American League's dominant franchise until selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Red Sox fans have yet to fully recover. The rivalry has seen the DiMaggio vs. Williams debate, Bucky F****** Dent's home run and Roger Clemens' return to Fenway.

6. Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus
Palmer was the fan favorite, the chain-smoking golfer built like a linebacker. Nicklaus was chubby but more talented, the young kid knocking the champ off his pedestal. The rivalry was respectful, with Nicklaus envying Palmer's popularity and Palmer envying Nicklaus' skill. As televised golf became popular in the early '60s, it was this matchup that brought golf to the masses.

5. Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens
When the NHL consisted of six teams, that meant everybody played each other all the time. And no game was as intense as this one. It pitted French Canada vs. English Canada, making it a symbol of hockey's and Canada's history. They've met five times in the Stanley Cup Finals, with Montreal winning in 1959 and '60 and Toronto winning in '45, '51 and '67. Last year, Toronto was moved back into the Eastern Conference to rebuild the rivalry. Visiting fans often drown out the locals in each arena, so you never can tell who's the home team, and even when either team is terrible, players get revved up for regular-season games.

4. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell
There were only nine NBA teams for most of the 1960s, meaning Chamberlain and Russell squared off nine to 12 times per season. And since defenses weren't as sophisticated as now, when these two battled it was often without weakside help or double-teaming. Of course, Russell's Celtics always won, which helped build Russell's reputation and depicted Chamberlain as a selfish player who didn't make his teammates better. For example, in 1961-62, Wilt averaged 50.4 points per game, but the Celtics beat the Philadelphia Warriors eight of 12 games. The next season, Wilt averaged 44.8 points per game, but the Celtics beat Chamberlain's San Francisco Warriors eight out of nine. Who was more valuable? It's what made this a classic rivalry.

Five for the future
1. Alex Rodriguez vs. Derek Jeter vs. Nomar Garciaparra

2. Tiger Woods vs. Sergio Garcia

3. Tennessee vs. Florida, college football

4. Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan

5. Jeff Gordon vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

3. North Carolina vs. Duke
Dean Smith. Coach K. Jordan. Hill. Tobacco Road. Cameron Crazies. The fans are passionate, the teams successful, the games almost always down to the buzzer. Two of the four winningest teams in history, going at it twice a year (and once more in the ACC tournament if we're lucky). This is what college hoops is all about.

2. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
They fought three times with two of the brawls considered among the greatest fights in history. Many say their first fight at Madison Square Garden in 1971 is the most signficant boxing match in history. When they met for the third time in 1975 -- "The Thrilla in Manila" -- Ali verbally assaulted Frazier to such a degree in the months leading up to the fight that Frazier remains psychologically damaged to this day.

1. Michigan vs. Ohio State
When Ohio Stadium opened in 1922, Michigan spoiled the party with a 22-0 victory. The rivalry was heated in the early days as both have been long-time college football powers. But it got even hotter in 1969, when Bo Schembechler took over as Michigan's coach and upset Woody Hayes' No. 1-ranked, undefeated Buckeyes. Four times in the next six years, both teams were ranked in the top five when they met. In 1970 and 1973, both were undefeated (they tied 10-10 in '73). From 1970 through 1975, Michigan entered without a loss every year. The Wolverines won just once. Ohio State was 9-0-1 in 1993, 11-0 in 1995 and 10-0 in 1996. The Buckeyes lost each time. That is rivalry.
 



ALSO SEE
Rivalries: Venom, vigor in 60 minutes

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