Player rivals are few in this league. And if you had to guess the biggest one in the league you’d be far off.
Some would mention Paul Pierce and Lebron James, but James has been superior the last few years and Pierce is on his last legs. Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph comes to mind, but that’s more a competitive rivalry rather than the “I hate you, you hate me” variety.
Who I’m speaking on is Demarcus Cousins vs. Chris Paul (and the Clippers). Height discrepancy aside, these two hate each other. It shows on the court. It shows off the court. Cousins spoke on the matter in a great piece by J.J. Abrams, referring to Paul and the Clippers as cheaters:
Cousins maintains a rivalry with the Clippers, and Paul in particular. “It’s just, some players I don’t respect,” Cousins said. “Just their playing style of basketball. I don’t respect it. I feel like it’s basically cheating and I don’t respect a cheater. If that’s your tactic to winning, I don’t respect you.”
via The Ballad of Boogie | Grantland
By cheating, one must think Cousins is referring to the Clippers flopping antics which isn’t necessarily cheating, but it’s the type of tactic that gets under your opponents skin enough to make a remark such as this. There are many instances that point to this rival such as the infamous flop:
Or “Hand-shake gate”:
It’s refreshing to see a blatant dislike in the league. I’m far from one of those people who wish everyone hated each other like they did in the 1980s and 1990s. That isn’t needed. Everyone doesn’t have to be the Bad Boy Pistons or clothesline opponents like Kevin McHale did Kurt Rambis.
All that’s missing from this rivalry is a playoff series. With the Sacramento Kings trending upward after several moves done this season, one including the acquisition of Rudy Gay, it may be a feasible option come the 2014-15 NBA season.