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Nearly a week ago, Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post ventured into the topic of rivals for the Orlando Magic. It’s a fascinating subject that has gained steam since the Miami Heat acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh in free agency, pairing them with Dwyane Wade to form like Voltron.
The Heat, of course, are a divisional and an in-state rival of the Magic.
The term “rival” comes up far too often in sports, I believe. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have a storied, decades-long rivalry, and play in the same division, for instance, but the Yankees are a cut above the Red Sox right now; the Tampa Bay Rays pose a more immediate threat to their chances of repeating as World Series champions than the Red Sox do. In a rivalry, what I look for is competitors at roughly the same level, preferably among the elite. I mean, the L.A. Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves might have bad blood stemming from the Timberwolves’ hilarious tanking effort to avoid having to deal a draft pick to the Clippers, but because neither of those teams matters much in the NBA landscape, you’ll have a hard time convincing me I should care.
In this particular write-up at OPP, three teams were considered as Orlando’s biggest rival — Miami, as well as the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. These are squads that have a recent history with Orlando, in some way, shape, or form.
A poll was conducted and — at the time — out of 680 votes, 52 percent of the people voted the Celtics as the lead villain in the Magic’s story. It make sense, given that Orlando and Boston have gone toe-to-toe in the past several years.
The Magic and Celtics are linked pretty tightly since both franchises made major moves in 2007. In Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Boston infamously added two Hall-of-Famers, while the Magic brought head coach Stan Van Gundy and Rashard Lewis. Though they didn’t meet in the postseason that year–the Celtics dispatched the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, one round after the Pistons sent the Magic home–they’ve had some memorable battles in the ensuing seasons. [...] As far as competitiveness is concerned, it’s hard to get much closer than the Magic and the Celtics have been since 2007. In the 24 meetings (counting the postseason) between the teams in that span, the Celtics have scored 2206 points to the Magic’s 2197. A one-possession margin decided six of those 24 games. When the two teams play, you really ought to tune in.
My vote would be for the Heat, more so because the stakes have never been higher between two teams from the state of Florida that will be vying for a championship in the same division, let alone the same conference. To me, the storyline is more compelling with Miami. There’s no question that the Celtics are a rival for the Magic, but it’s the Heat.
It’s personal on a number of levels.