The 5 Greatest Rivalries in Sports

Tonight for the 240th time, Duke and North Carolina will renew their storied rivalry in the Dean Dome. In anticipation of the big game (Go Tarheels!), I’m going to share the five greatest rivalries in American sports. Let the debate begin!

  1. Cowboys vs. Redskins

This storied NFC East rivalry has featured many classic matchups. The ‘Boys and the ‘Skins always seem to go down to the wire. Even when one team seems to be having a down season, they’re sure to bring their “A” game to the field when this rivalry is renewed. And we can’t ignore the (politically incorrect) “Cowboys vs. Indians” element. Right? History Majors? Get it? Okay. Next.

Jason Hatcher, Tony Romo

  1. Ohio State vs. Michigan

The Horseshoe. The Big House. Bo Schembechler. Woody Hayes. The Saturday after Thanksgiving. Need I say more? From the uniforms to the bands to the pageantry, nothing says college football like “Ohio State vs. Michigan”.


  1. Lakers vs. Celtics

Featuring the two most decorated franchises in the NBA, this rivalry could arguably be number one. The Lakers and Celtics combine for 48 Hall of Famers, and 33 NBA Championships. These two teams have met in the NBA Finals 12 times. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry reached a fever pitch in the 1980’s when a flashy kid named Magic and a sharp shooter from French Lick, Indiana, named “Bird” took the league by storm. Bird’s Celtics were seen as the blue collar, east coast club as opposed to the flashy, Hollywood, “Showtime” Lakers led by their conductor Magic Johnson. This rivalry is unique due to the East Coast-West Coast element, and light racial undertones that existed during the Bird vs. Magic years.


  1. Yankees vs. Red Sox

What’s better than the “Sawx and the Yanks”? This rivalry, started by the sell of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918, is quite theatrical. The Red Sox see the Yankees as the “Evil Empire”, clean-shaven, establishment stiffs. The Yankees see the Red Sox as obnoxious, hippy, idiots. For a while this was more of an abusive relationship with the Yankees winning 26 World Series’ during the Red Sox 86 year drought due to the “Curse of the Bambino”. In 2004, this rivalry reached it’s climax when the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees in the ALCS on their way to their first World Series Championship since 1918.


  1. Duke vs. North Carolina

Separated by only 9 miles, the two schools making up the Tobacco Road Rivalry couldn’t be more different. Duke is the self proclaimed “Harvard of the South”. They’re the Polo wearing, prep school educated, over achieving, rich kids that will one day donate to a Hillary Clinton Super Pac. North Carolina is the big state school. UNC is the fun school! The Tarheels represent the people! Okay, my bias is taking over I admit. However, what rivalry is better? Duke nerds, I mean students, camp out in “Krzyzeskiville” months in advance in anticipation for the game! Although they may be very different, these programs have one thing in common: They’re both successful. The quality of basketball seems to always match the intensity when these teams face off in either the Dean Dome or Cameron Indoor Stadium. The players understand the rivalry, and know that “Duke-Carolina” is a battle for pride. Tonight, I hope we’re in for another “Diaper DANDY!”


This post is in honor of my father, Clifford Johnson, who passed away in August. This will be my first Duke-Carolina game without the man who draped me in Tarheel “Carolina Blue” from the day I was born. Love you, and miss you dad. Go Tarheels.

By: Corey Johnson

Twitter: @coreymaurice




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