Where have all the Miami sports rivalries gone? There aren't any left in any South Florida professional sports. The only truly simmering local rivalry is the University of Miami Hurricanes versus the Florida State Seminoles.
What the heck happened? The answer is complicated, but it's a problem that could soon be solved.
The Miami Dolphins used to have the New York Jets and then the Buffalo Bills. Fans used to hate those teams with a fiery passion. Now? The feelings aren't so hot. The uniforms are the only reminder that the two teams were once rivals.
The Miami Heat and the New York Knicks used to have an intense relationship. There was legit hatred on both sides. Punches were thrown. People bled. Now? If not for the always iconic blue-and-orange versus black-and-red visual cues as a constant reminder throughout the game, you'd think the Heat was playing the Sacramento Kings.
The Miami Marlins and the Florida Panthers don't have rivals, likely because neither team has been good for more than a season at a time. No, the New York Mets don't count. Neither do the Atlanta Braves. The Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning have tried their hardest to make that a thing, but it's not.
So the question needs to be asked: What is the best current rivalry in Miami pro sports? Is there a rivalry brewing that's on it's way to boiling over?
The bottom line is this: South Florida sports teams lack a true rival right now. There's just nothing that gets the juices flowing like Heat-Knicks in the '90s or Dolphins-Jets in the '80s and '90s. Really, there isn't anything close. And it's missed.
The closest thing the 2018-19 Heat might have to a rivalry is with the Philadelphia 76ers. The two teams get under each other's skin. Rivalries require playoff wounds, and this season's 4-1, first-round playoff loss was just that for the Heat.
Revenge is in the cards. Philly will only get better as their young stars improve. Miami will have to go through the 76ers to get back to the NBA Finals. The Heat will have to put together a better team if it wants to seriously challenge the Boston Celtics, Sixers, or any other team often enough to create an actual rivalry.
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The Marlins need to un-suck themselves before they can create anything close to a rivalry. There would have to be multiple brawls on the mound for any sizzle to arise between the Marlins and Mets. Bad teams don't normally have rivals. Winning and fighting for the top spot creates friction that is necessary. The Marlins haven't been competitive in more than a decade.
For the Dolphins, it's easy to say the New England Patriots are a rival because they are the team to beat. That's probably unlikely, though. A decline is in the cards for New England. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick aren't long for each other. It's much likelier that the new-look Bills or Jets battle it out to see who takes over as the big dog in the AFC East.
History says the Patriots can't be this good forever. We'll believe it when we see it, though. This upcoming season will determine if the Dolphins are on the verge of taking over or if they'll be rebuilding right alongside the Pats.
For now, local fans will have to wait and wonder when one of Miami's teams will find a foe who can step up and become an arch-nemesis.