No Hate Between OKC And Heat? Just Wait


Since suggesting that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat have a chance to become the new Lakers-Celtics rivalry of the 1980s, fans have chimed in that it will never happen because the two superstars, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, are too chummy, and there’s a general lack of hate between the two teams.

I say give it time, people.

Remember that the great Lakers-Celtics rivalry, perhaps unmatched in all of sports, predated Magic Johnson and Larry Bird by 20 years.

Those two gloriously re-ignited it while sweeping up a new generation of NBA fans throughout the 1980s.

And it’s also important to remember that Magic and Larry’s history predated Lakers-Celtics with their remarkable final collegiate seasons, Magic at Michigan State and Larry at Indiana State, and their improbable 1979 NCAA championship showdown.

That they each would join the league at the same time and land on the most legendary franchises in the Eastern and Western conferences was nothing short of an amazing bit of timing and terrific fortune for the NBA.

LeBron and Durant, of course, have no collegiate history to speak of. LeBron entered the league four years before KD and they weren’t drafted by hallowed franchises that would instantly pit them as rivals.

Fan feedback suggests that the off-court friendship between the two prohibits them from becoming arch-enemies. The two are Team USA teammates and won Olympic gold together. They are also admitted workout partners during the offseason, meeting in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio, for grueling two-a-day sessions.

No, you wouldn’t have found Magic spending a week in French Lick, Ind., during the summer working out with Larry. But what if the original Dream Team had come along in 1984 instead of 1992? Would Magic and Larry have become buds off the floor? Would it have softened their rivalry in the NBA and diminished the intensity of Lakers-Celtics? Or perhaps enhanced it?

So many NBA players these days gather for group offseason workouts. It doesn’t mean LeBron and KD can’t compete against one another just as fiercely as Magic and Larry did — and their one-on-one battle on Christmas Day, with LeBron defending KD throughout, was as intriguing and entertaining as its gets in today’s game.

The larger point in talking up the potential for a greater Heat-Thunder rivalry is that it has been since Magic and Larry that the league has featured transcendent stars each leading the best team in each conference. The Heat and Thunder are favored to meet again this June and why should it stop there?

Other teams will try to cut in — the Lakers, Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies in the West, the Knicks and whoever else in the East — just as the Rockets, Sixers and Pistons did in the 80s.

Tuesday’s Christmas Day Heat-Thunder matchup, a 103-97 Miami win in the first meeting since last June’s Finals, ratcheted up the intensity to a degree rarely seen in regular-season games.

“That game,” LeBron said after he nearly posted a triple-double and KD went for 33 points, “was intense.”

Five technical fouls were issued with both teams’ highest-profile players being in the middle of it. Durant, James, Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook all were hit with one, a sure sign that emotions were running high.

“We’re going to continue to play aggressive (against the Heat),” said Durant, who got into a early foul trouble, a trend that carried over from the Finals. “It’s just that every time we play them, I play a little too aggressive. I got to calm down.”

Wade and Serge Ibaka were assessed T’s after Wade and Shane Battier put a hard foul on Westbrook going to the rim early in the fourth quarter of a tight game. Westbrook crashed into the basket support only to bolt up and stick out his chest. Ibaka surged in to protect his teammate and Wade bowed up as a bit of skirmish ensued and an already physical game became a bit more chippy.

“Not chippy, not chippy at all,” James said with a straight face, leaving it up to the individual to decide if he believed that or was being coy. “Great, physical game. Both teams just making plays, but nothing chippy at all.”

Before pronouncing that Thunder-Heat can never challenge Lakers-Celtics of the 80s, let’s just let this simmering pot go a bit longer.

Mark your calendars for Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day of all days: Heat at Thunder.


  1. Moochiiieee says:

    laker fans must be jealous right now!!! uLOLs… lakers- celtics sure a great rivalry but that’s yesterday… For those who say still Lakers- Celtics ain’t OKC -MIA you must be stocked during 60’s 70’s 80’s. Writers should write what is really happening right now… THUNDERS and HEAT, BUT Don’t worry laker fans… They’re still writing about your lakers DRAMA…. The Most EXPENSIVE Mediocre TEAM EVER…. uLOLs!!!!

  2. DaBeast says:


    This “rivalry” can’t match the one of Lakers-Celtics just because of the business handled by the NBA. During that past era players used to get down the court for a team ideology and were trustful. Now, mentality is much more different… Just thinking about LJ who might leave the Heat by 2014 make this impossible. He came for a low salary but he knows he could earn way much more with another big franchise… Wait & see… Time will tell…

  3. lamontee curb says:

    James and Durant are cool leave it that way James needs to rivals with mello and the knicks as a heat fan I hate newyork now they mouth runners with luck like JR Smith miami needs a new rivaly with them lucky knicks and they better hope heath doesn’t bit them later nor tech fouls those tech that wallace and amarie gets the most in the nba and there mouth runners because its been since the 70’s damn that knick curse will come back and bite them .and u can take that to the bank

  4. jackson S. says:

    Westbook is an idiot there is no way that he got fouled Dwade just played amazing defense #miamination

  5. Jorda26 says:

    I think the rivalry that is brewing is more the rivalry between Durant and Lebron than that of OKC and HEAT (if that makes any sense.)

  6. Phil says:

    Its too early to say now, lets see if OKC can come out of the West this year

  7. purpngold says:

    This so called media hyped rivalry will never come close to Lakers-Celtics rivalry. Its a whole lot of smoke in the air, it aint going to last.

  8. Deo says:

    james vs durant reall is a big promise, like bird and magic, they are one of a kind players which transformed the NBA to a great spectacle. But i have to agree that their rivalry will not be as intense as larry and magic

  9. LA's back says:

    LA still the best, they just completed and now their in a role!, Heat & Thunder, get ready

  10. Ayman Ramadan says:

    Beautifull….makes perfect sense! You got the two greatest in the world, and backing them up two or the best in the world (wade and russel )… A rivalry of ages is just heating up, maybe its gonna be better than that ofnthe lakers-celtics. Lets just see

    • josh says:

      If these teams play in the finals the next couple of years then a rivalry could form, particularly if the Heat win them both. Until then shoosh…

  11. LF says:

    Lamest “rivalry” in the story of any sport.

  12. Mack says:

    Russel and Wilt were buddies off the court , doesnt stop them from starting what would become the one of the greatest rivalry in sports. If KD and LeBron sticks with their team , OKC and Heat meet up in the Finals for like 3-4 times and each of the Finals was epic (4-1 last year was not epic) , who knows. Maybe. But that’s a big if. Since the current trend of the NBA is that superstars bolt from their team to make up a superteam. Maybe if OKC or Heat was not satisfying , KD or LeBron may leave and join another team. But then again , it’s a big if.

  13. Mack says:

    “Remember that the great Lakers-Celtics rivalry, perhaps unmatched in all of sports, predated Magic Johnson and Larry Bird by 20 years.”

    Count Russel-Chamberlain rivalry in and u’ll get like what 50 years? And it’s not just the players that makes Celtics-Lakers rivalry so great. These two teams have meet up at the finals for like what , over 30 times? And they’re neck and neck on the amount of titles they’ve won.

  14. David Donnel says:

    Stern is obviously trying to market an OKC-Heat rivalry to boost ratings and pad his wallet. I don’t think these teams will ever really hate each other.

    • Breeezy says:

      5 tech fouls in a regular season match on the merriest of all days of the calendar would suggest otherwise.

  15. Lol says:

    1:34 did perkins just punch durant in the head for making an incredible play? wtf

  16. Frank says:

    Certainly L. James is such an admirable super star. But with the trend the NBA has taken in recent years, I have no doubt that the departure of L. James will render the Heat non-contender. Remember, while D. Wade may not be the same person because he has allowed James to be the go-to person, he is very capable of being the leader again. You know he has proven himself before.


    • purpngold says:

      For a true rivalry, one that would even compare to Lakers/Celts rivalry, you need loyal players with a whole lot of heart, that alone puts a hault to this rivalry. Magic and Bird played and dedicated their whole careers to one franchise. Thats how they met in the finals several times and became a heated noncomparable rivalry. Thunder/Heat have met once, then you have the buddy buddy attitude where one guy is afraid to hurt the other guys feelings, then there’s the loyalty issue, who knows how long James is going to stick around, last but not least, there are no guarantees the Thunder or Heat will be two of the best teams in the league for the next 5 to 10 years to come to truly make it a rivalry, there are other great teams on their coat tails as it is already. In the 80s Lakers and Cs were clearly the dominant teams.

    • Gypsy Fruitcake says:

      you Gypsy Fruitcake go dolphin dive into a pool of jello

  17. C says:

    “… perhaps unmatched in all of sports…”
    Are you serious? Were you thinking River Plate vs Boca Juniors when you wrote that? Celtic vs Rangers? FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid?

  18. DWADE 3 says:

    The thunder don’t hate

  19. “Other teams will try to cut in — the LAKERS, Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies in the West, the Knicks and whoever else in the East…”

    SERIOUSLY, THE LAKERS??? THEY’RE JUST A GREAT TEAM ON PAPER WITH MULTI-AWARDED PLAYERS – all-stars(starters, reserves), DPOY’s, all the MVP awards (all-star, season, finals), the d’antoni-nash combo, the best candidate to match MJ, etc. – BUT THEY DONT PLAY DEEEE-FENSE!!

    there’s no defensive plays on the books of d’antoni like the ones in thibodeau’s or river’s or jackson’s, it’s just all offense. SO IF THE PLAYERS ARE HAVING OFF NIGHTS, THERE’S NO CHANCE OF WINNING UNLESS YOU FORCE THE OTHER TEAM TO SHOOT AS POOR OR WORSER THAN YOU DO.


  20. MJ says:

    While Larry and Magic enjoying the moment , Michael grab the ball from them and he said it’s my time guys


    Durant always smells bad. Westbrook keeps flipping the crowd off when he makes big shots. IBAKA is stupid.

  22. kenny says:

    I agree it will be a riviraly but not as much as you think the Thunder will take over this year and and the bulls will take over the east real soon plus the finals was rigged the Thunder got screwed out of the titial

  23. Mat says:

    That was a foul at the end of the game

  24. Sorry but I don’t remember the Celtics beating the Lakers 9-3 in the finals, I remember Magic gaining the upper hand by the tail-end of the rivalry taking the last finals match up. And this isn’t the first time two superstars have been friends while maintaining a huge rivalry. People like to forget that Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain didn’t ever went toe to toe in battling out supremacy on the court while still remaining friends. I never quite understood the big controversy of why Durant and Lebron training together was such a bad idea. Or even that rivalries are dead in the NBA, they aren’t dead they simply have changed If no one has seen a budding rivalry between these two teams must be blind to the aggressiveness of the games when they play against each other.I can’t wait to see where both these teams are at the edn of the season. Thunder up!

  25. jacobm says:

    even if Lebron leaves the heat would still be strong competitors if Wade can stay healthy, true they wouldnt be the same force but i’m sure they could attract another perennial all-star if (and thats a big if) Lebron leaves

  26. dattebayo says:

    It’s funny how Westbrook takes offense when he gets his shot blocked by two players, but 10 months before that he flagrant fouled LeBron, with no shot to make a play on the ball.
    I don’t think that it will ever be a rivalry and even if that’s the case, it will be nothing like the famous Celtics-Lakers rivalry. How often did the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals, 9 times to 3? Right now the future looks rosy for the Heat and Thunder, but who knows what will happen in 2-3 years. LeBron might change franchises again and if the Thunder won’t win a title, Durant might leave, too. It’s just the sad nature of the business.

  27. 3on1 says:

    Who is to say that when Lebron leaves for more money the Heat will even be a contender again,