DAR Sports: The 5 Best NBA Rivalries Of The 1990s

By @TrueGodImmortal

We here at DAR love talking about the NBA, and we especially love talking about the greatest era of the league, the 1990s. The 80's and 90's were both an example of basketball at its highest height, and one thing that made the 90's so special would be the rivalries between the premier teams in the league. Today, I wanted to take a look back at 5 of the greatest NBA rivalries of the 90's. Let's get into it.

5. San Antonio Spurs vs Phoenix Suns

-Many would love to point out this rivalry when looking back at the 2000s, but surprisingly, this was a potent rivalry in the 90's as well. Once Charles Barkley joined the Phoenix Suns, it made this rivalry that much more interesting. Now it was the star of the Spurs, David Robinson, leading the team against the star of the Suns, Barkley and that really made for great basketball. The two would meet in the playoffs multiple times during the decade, with the Suns winning in 1993, while the Spurs won in 1996, causing Barkley to take his talent to Houston shortly after that loss. The Spurs and the Suns didn't have the most exciting rivalry for the NBA eye, but to me, it was one of the most competitive rivalries that ended up in the playoffs multiple times.

4. Miami Heat vs New York Knicks 

-A legendary rivalry that sometimes gets slept on, the Heat vs Knicks was one of those type of rivalries that featured heated games and confrontation through the entire battle. The Heat would be a successful team in the NBA during the 90's, utilizing Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway to the best of their abilities, while the Knicks were honestly on their way out of Eastern Conference supremacy. These two teams were responsible for some extremely entertaining playoff series and games as they met in the playoffs in consecutive years. They would trade playoff wins against each other, with the Knicks reaching the Finals in 1999 after upsetting the no. 1 seed Heat in surprising fashion as the 8th seed. For a good 4 years, the Heat vs Knicks rivalry made every game a must watch, and we can also appreciate all the infamous moments their fights on the court brought us.

3. Utah Jazz vs Chicago Bulls

-This rivalry is one of the only from the 90's to culminate in back to back Finals battles, and that's why it makes this list in the top 3. Before the 1996 season, this rivalry was mostly just fun to see two great teams battle each other, but when that 1996 season hit, things took a turn for the intense. The Bulls had won 4 titles in 6 seasons and set out to win their 5th in 7 seasons, but the Jazz emerged as the next serious contender and during the regular season, they seemed about as evenly matched as one would have expected. However, come the Finals, we knew what to expect. The Bulls would win in 1997 and then face a more focused Jazz team in 1998, but still manage to come away with the victory in the Finals, but those two Finals series are classics and despite the Bulls winning in 6, the Jazz put up a fight every single time.

2. Chicago Bulls vs New York Knicks 

-This is my favorite rivalry of the decade. If you'll notice, you'll see the best rivalries center around the Knicks and the Bulls during the 90's, which shows how important both teams were at the time. It's funny looking back now because essentially, the team that kept the Knicks from achieving championship greatness would be the same team who the Knicks finally overcame in their run to the 1994 Finals (without Michael Jordan of course). Through the early 90's all the way down to the end of the decade before Jordan retired, these teams battled each other fiercely, with the Bulls usually coming out on the winning end in the playoffs, except in 1994. Jordan and Pippen against Starks and Ewing sold the games every time, and when you add in pieces like Horace Grant, Dennis Rodman, Anthony Mason, and Charles Oakley, every Bulls vs Knicks was must see television. This would have been no. 1 on my list if not for the fact that my top choice has one of the greatest moments in NBA history in it. Regardless, the Bulls and the Knicks were the longest lasting rivalry of the 90's and easily the most entertaining.

1. New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers 

-Yes. This is the no. 1 choice. You might say that the Bulls vs Knicks was a better rivalry, and I would agree. However, the Pacers and Knicks were more closely matched than the Bulls and Knicks because they would battle each other through the decade and there was no telling which team would win. The infamous Reggie Miller in the Garden moment with Spike Lee really takes the cake for the rivalry, but there are classic moments, like their epic Semifinals series in 1995 and their other playoff meetings. Not to mention, Reggie and John Starks had their own little rivalry that definitely made everyone tune in to their games. I would have to classify the Pacers and Knicks as not only the greatest rivalry of the 90's, but easily a top 5 to top 10 rivalry in NBA history. The Knicks vs the Pacers was an epic rivalry in the most epic time of the NBA.



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