There is something to be said about rivalries in sports. They are both fun and at the same time infuriating for almost everybody involved. They are also genuine. While the media tries to start some rivalries, real ones grow naturally.
In the case of the Miami Heat, they have had some very heated rivalries in their 25-year NBA history. The most notable of these being the classic clashes with the New York Knicks in the 1990s. Since then other rivals have come, but haven’t had the same level of animosity among the Heat’s players and front office that the Knicks were able to bring out.
However, if last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals and this season’s two meetings are any indication, it appears that the Indiana Pacers may just become the next big rival for the Heat.
From last season until the present nearly every game that the two teams played has been physical, chippy, and filled with bravado among the players. While it may look to the casual fan that the animosity is coming solely from the Pacers, there is mutual disdain on both sides.
Yes, Pacers players like Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson have started incidents on the court, but Heat players like Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman have retaliated in kind. There is also the known fact that the Miami front office has a low opinion of Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and consider him to be arrogant.
To put it bluntly, these teams don’t like each other.
The rivalry would be good for both sides. The Heat need a legitimate challenger in the East and the Pacers need a ‘big city’ foil to go against the small-town sentiments of their fan base.
The only factor missing in order to make this into a true rivalry is time and the teams have at least two more seasons, including this one, to make this happen.