HANG TIME, Texas –– The Hatfields and McCoys, Montagues and Capulets, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj have never had anything on the NBA. When it comes to feuds, there have been some dandies.
So when Pat Riley and Danny Ainge went lip-to-lip this week it was just the latest chapter. Here are just a few other memorable ones:
Danny Ainge vs. Tree Rollins
In a 1987 first round playoff game against Atlanta, the Celtics’ guard Ainge tried to tackle 7-footer Rollins of the Hawks. They wound up in a heap of bodies on the court and Ainge came out of the pile screaming with a gash that required two stitches from where Rollins had bit him.
The next day’s edition of the Boston Herald bore the headline: Tree Bites Man.
Joey Crawford vs. Tim Duncan
It was a 1997 playoff series when the bombastic veteran referee did not like that Duncan was laughing on the bench and challenged him to a fight. The league fined and suspended Crawford and banned him for working Spurs games for several years.
The pair has since patched things up. However Duncan and teammate Manu Ginobili were photographed in October at a Halloween Party where they aimed fake guns and guest dressed up as Crawford.
Clyde Drexler vs. Jake O’Donnell
The final game of the veteran referee’s career came on May 9, 1995 when he ejected the Rockets’ Drexler in the second quarter of a playoff game in Phoenix. The league suspended O’Donnell and he never worked another game. Drexler claimed that there was no previous history between the two.
But league sources confirmed that Drexler had been ordered to send a written apology to the ref following a 1989 incident when he played in Portland and had threatened O’Donnell prior to a game.
Red Auerbach vs. Phil Jackson
It practically became a running joke. Each spring when the Zen Master would close in on adding another championship ring to his collection, some mischievous reporter would dial up the former Celtics legend and let him vent.
“Three titles in a row don’t constitute a dynasty,” Auerbach would rant. “He had Michael Jordan and Shaq.”
Of course, Red had Bill Russell.
Jackson usually responded with a bemused smile and a zinger and ultimately that cap with the Roman number X for his 10 championships when he passed Auerbach’s total of nine.
LeBron James vs. Dan Gilbert
All it took was James announcing on national TV that he was taking his talents to South Beach for the Cleveland owner to vent all of his frustrations in a letter that accused LeBron of selfishness and “cowardly betrayal” and promised that his Cavs would win a championship before The King.
Well, so Gilbert is a better venter than prognosticator. He has since admitted that his childish actions were wrong and, besides, all we be forgiven if LeBron opts out of his Heat contract and returns to the Cavs in 2014.
Shaquille O’Neal vs. Kobe Bryant
So how many more championships could the Lakers have won in the early years of the 21st century if the two giants of the court had been able to make their huge egos squeeze comfortably into the same locker room?
Kobe thought Shaq was lazy. Shaq thought Kobe was a ballhog.
So they both were right. Then things got personal and nasty and out the window went any chance of a “four-peat.”