When you look back at the history of the NBA, there was a different feel and image to the game. In the 70's, 80's, 90's and the early 2000's, rivalries were still a big part of the game.
Compared to yesteryear, rivalries in the NBA have seemed to cool off. Whether it be because superstars teaming up together or the physicality of the game has changed, rivalries seem to be a thing of the past.
If you take a closer look at the landscape of the NBA there could be a resurgence in some of the NBA's greatest rivalries, albeit a little less psychical.
Here are a look at rivalries that could resurface in the next couple of years in the NBA, as well as some that could reach their peak.
Oklahoma City Thunder/ Golden State Warriors
If you can't beat them, join them. That was the thought when Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Golden State Warriors over the team that drafted him, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The day Kevin Durant announced he would leave the Thunder for the Warriors, Russell Westbrook posted a picture of a cupcake to his Instagram page, igniting OKC fans to chant cupcake upon Durant's return.
Westbrook versus Durant has become quite the spectacle to watch. The games are very physical, with both players trash talking to other all night. Durant seems to have gotten the better of Westbrook, going on to win two NBA Finals.
Over their last 10 meetings, the Warriors have gotten the better of the Thunder, going 8-2 in the period. Along with Paul George, Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel will now enter the fray and go to war with Westbrook.
With Kevin Durant locked in for another two years, this rivalry can only intensify. These two will be fighting for a top spot in a crowded Western Conference for at least the next two years.
Utah Jazz/ Houston Rockets
This rivalry got started back in late 90's, when dominant center Hakeem Olajuwon and college teammate Clyde Drexler, lead the Houston Rockets went up against the pick-and-roll duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton of the Utah Jazz. The two playoff powers in the Midwest Division faced each other four times in the NBA playoffs during the decade. In all four instances, the winner was the eventual Western Conference champion and played in the NBA Finals.
Fast forward to 2007, the rivalry was restored as the two teams met again in the playoffs and a showdown of two of the best 1–2 combos of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming of the Rockets and Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer of the Jazz.
Last season, we got a glimpse of the next installment of this feud. Rising star Donovan Mitchell along with Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert went up again MVP James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela. Who can forgot the outburst from Mitchell following game four of the Western Conference Semifinals.
With most guys set for the next couple of seasons, we could get some amazing games in the future. There will definitely be a playoff like atmosphere when these two meet during the course of the season.
Phoenix Suns/ Los Angeles Lakers
This is one of the more recent rivalries in the NBA. Laker legend Kobe Bryant openly admitted to hating the Phoenix Suns because Phoenix eliminated Los Angeles from the playoffs in consecutive seasons in 2006 and 2007.
The 2006 series went seven games, and was memorable for Kobe's heroics in Game 4, and for Raja Bell's clothesline in Game 5. Bryant got his revenge with a win in the 2010 Western Conference Finals, and the Suns haven't made the playoffs since.
Both the Suns and Lakers are caught in the rebuilding process. The Suns have their next group of Suns greats that includes Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson and Mychal Bridges. Meanwhile, the Lakers might have speed up their process with the signing of LeBron James. Before James, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma were set in place.
The Suns are not that far from completing The Timeline. When they do, the rivalry between them and the Lakers could be reignited in the process.
Los Angeles Lakers/ Boston Celtics
Unquestionably the most storied rivalry in NBA history, the battles between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have become something of legend.
With the rivalry since the beginning of the NBA's earliest days, the two franchises have met in the Finals 12 different times over a 51-year span, and the rivalry in the 1980s between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird is credited with helping to push the league's popularity to an all-time high.
Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce brought it back into the national spotlight in the modern era with memorable Finals matchups in 2008 and 2010, the latter of which needed seven games to be decided, and ended with a hard-fought, defensive struggle of a contest won by the Lakers 83-79 to give Bryant the fifth and final championship of his career.
In 2018, it will be LeBron James, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram going up against Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Even if Irving opts to leave Boston next summer, the C's have so much talent on their roster to keep the budding feud going.
Recently, there was fuel added to the fire when the Lakers announced their 2018-2019 schedule. Feel free to see for yourself.
6 can't miss games on the Lakers schedule, presented by @Delta. pic.twitter.com/knUPGSdLGI— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 10, 2018
Danny Ainge and Magic Johnson once took part in this great rivalry. Now, they each look to write the script for the next couple of years.
Philadelphia 76er/ Boston Celtics
This one goes way back, as it is just as long as the Celtics' rivalry with the Lakers.
Wilt Chamberlain battled Bill Russell in the playoffs four years in a row in the late 1960s, and the rivalry was renewed in the early 1980s when Julius Erving and the 76ers competitively went toe-to-toe with Larry Bird the Celtics.
The faces that will carry this feud going forward for the 76ers are Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward take the floor for the Celtics. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Marcus Morris will be apart of the rivalry this season as well but the Celtics will have to address their contract situation at seasons end.
If there is one thing that Joel Embiid loves to do, it is trash talk and get into his opponents head. Embiid has gotten the better of his opponents throughout the league by doing this. During one of these Celtics/76ers games, it won't be long before a Marcus Morris or Al Horford step up to him and get psychical.
With each team having fresh, young blood trying to take the other out, it will be fun to watch as these two battle for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles Lakers/ Golden State Warriors
This last one will be more about LeBron James versus the Golden State Warriors more than anything. Going up against the Warriors in the Finals, James was successful just one time out of four attempts. He will be looking for redemption now that he has arrived in the Western Conference.
The Lakers did the best they could to rebrand the team this offseason. However, many are still questioning if the Lakers did enough to beat the Golden State Warriors. Essentially, LeBron is staring at the NBA's Monstars right in the face. The Warriors introductions will look a little something like this:
These two teams will step into the spotlight this season on Christmas Day. LeBron and company will be out to prove that they are for real and are here to compete with the best that Western Conference has to offer.
Instead of J.R. Smith and Kyrie, LeBron will have Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma as well as new signees Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee to go up against Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
All eyes will be on LeBron and the newly retooled Lakers to see if they can get over the hump that is the Golden State Warriors.