Outside of the budding rivalry between the Warriors and the Cavaliers -- one that will gain even more traction should they meet in the Finals for a third straight season -- there really isn't any animosity like there used to be in the 80s and 90s.
Here are five reasons that NBA rivalries have seemingly become a thing of the past.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein
It's become a top-heavy league
Coming into this NBA season, not a single credible analyst predicted anything other than a Finals matchup between the Warriors and the Cavaliers in 2017. Teams like the Spurs, Clippers, Raptors and Celtics may have earned honorable mentions as close contenders, but everyone expects Stephen Curry and LeBron James to battle for a championship once again.
When one or two teams are so much better than everyone else, it's hard for a rivalry to develop because the results are so one-sided. It's a big reason the Clippers-Warriors rivalry has fizzled in recent years, because if you never come out on top, the better team can't possibly take you too seriously.
Long-term dynasties no longer exist
The Pistons eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs three years straight from 1988-90, before Chicago finally broke through with a sweep of Detroit in 1991 on the way to Jordan's first title. Those types of battles -- in the postseason over multiple years -- simply don't take place anymore, mainly because of top-heaviness we just mentioned. After the top two or three teams, the deck is shuffled in terms of playoff seeding every single year, which prevents the development of any real animosity.
NBA players team up during the summer to play in the Olympics
Active NBA players have been participating in international competition since 1992. The USA Basketball program has been growing ever since, with more than 30 of the game's biggest stars consistently participating in summer workouts together. A new bonding experience has been created, and a new level of camaraderie between NBA foes is now free to exist.
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Star players are more willing to change teams in free agency
It's tough for rivalries to form when the game's biggest stars have no trouble leaving their current team in free agency. Kevin Durant was the latest big name to do so, and when he went to Golden State, he took any OKC rivalries that may have existed with him -- if any even existed at all. LeBron James faced the Pacers in the playoffs for three straight seasons when he was with the Miami Heat but that one immediately died, too, once James returned to the Cavaliers.
The game isn't nearly as physical as it once was
The Heat and the Knicks met in the playoffs four consecutive years from 1997-2000, in physical battles that resulted in multiple altercations. This was the end of an era when guys often committed hard and sometimes dangerous fouls, and when actual on-court fist fights took place. Get into battles like that with the same guys in the playoffs year after year, and some true animosity will begin to be born. In today's NBA, however, we simply no longer see it.