ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy is one of the most opinionated voices in the NBA. The former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets is upset that there aren’t many “true” rivalries in the league these days. He spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod and discussed the lack of bad blood these days:
“It’s not an us vs. them mentality as much,” Van Gundy said. “You’re hard-pressed to find a true rivalry anymore where there’s a little bit of edginess or bad blood.”
It doesn’t seem like there is the same animosity between teams anymore. It’s rare when two teams playing against each other truly hate one another. That kind of bad blood always seems to make the games more interesting, and it’s a shame that it’s not the norm anymore.
Jeff Van Gundy also has an idea for how that can change. He believes that allowing the players to play a more physical game will go a long way towards bringing back rivalries. He told Wojnarowski:
“I wish there was a little bit more contact because I think contact would bring more conflict. What we’re missing is conflict. People exchanging jerseys after games, the unending hugs. It’s hard to find a true, nasty rivalry.”
Gone are the days when truly nasty rivalries were the norm in the league. Sure, the rivalry isn’t completely gone from the NBA, but there’s no doubt that the league is much more of a “love fest” than it has ever been before.