Rivalry Renewed: Wizards and Cavaliers


Feb 23, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) dribbles around center Marcin Gortat (4) and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

These aren’t the days of Gilbert Arenas versus LeBron James.

The latter has won two championships after leaving Cleveland, only to return home. The former isn’t playing in the league anymore, and even after a bad breakup with the Wizards, he remains a fan for life.

These also aren’t the days of Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood versus Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

These aren’t the days of Jay-Z versus Soulja Boy.

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While that age of the rivalry between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers is long gone, a new chapter in the rivalry starts Friday night.

The chapter already began in September, when Dion Waiters said he and Kyrie Irving were a better backcourt than John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Well, Wall didn’t take so kindly to that.

Although Wall and Irving haven’t had a head-to-head beef, so to say, fans of both players have argued during the past two seasons over which is the better player, who should be an All-Star and who should make the USA roster.

So far this season, Wall is averaging 18.4 points per game, to go along with 9.8 assists and a league-high 2.3 steals per game. Irving has been more of a scoring threat than a true point guard, as he’s averaging 21.9 points and five assists per game. Wall also has 43 more assists than Irving (93-50).

And while Waiters began the season as a starter, he was quickly sent back to the bench to be the sixth man.

Beal also missed the first chunk of the regular season, but returned Wednesday night in fashion.

Perfect timing, right?

The rivalry will also feature new big men. In years past when Haywood and Ilgauskas would battle it out, Marcin Gortat and Nene will battle it out with Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao.

But, despite all the new pieces, one constant in the rivalry remains the same. LeBron James.

The “King” has had his number against the Wizards over the years – crab dribble or not – and even trolled us D.C. fans yesterday on Twitter.

However, Ernie Grunfeld & Co. brought James’s long-time foe to The District: Paul Pierce.

Pierce and James have gone after it in the playoffs (i.e. 2010 and ’11 Eastern Conference Semis). Although James has gotten the better of Pierce’s teams as of late (2012 Conference Finals w/ Boston, last season with Brookyln), there’s no love lost between these two, at least on the court.

Friday night in the Verizon Center will be electric. The Wizards are off to a 7-3 start and are hosting a nationally televised game.

D.C. fans still don’t like LeBron and don’t particularly care for Irving.

The pieces are in place, so let the rivalry continue.

Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN.

–All stats gathered from Basketball-Reference.com