Who Came Out on Top in These Famous Sports Rivalries?

By: Gavin Thagard
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

What would the world be without its rivalries? Rivalries drive our passion for succeeding, for doing better, for accomplishing more than those on the other side of the rivalry. A good rivalry forces debate and progress. It forces us to come to terms with our failures and mistakes. Rivalries ask us to accept challenges. So again, we ask, what would the world be without its rivalries? 

There's no debate on whether rivalries are good for sports. After all, rivalry games and matchups are typically the most watched. They are the games that we remember and tell stories about. They are the reason we put flags on our cars and drive halfway across the state to be ridiculed and laughed at by the opposing fan base until the game starts and our team hopefully comes away with the victory. In the end, that's what a rivalry is all about, the victory. 

How well do you know the greatest rivalries in sports? Do you recall who came out on top in some of the most critical moments of those rivalries? Are you prepared to relive some of those moments that might open up fresh wounds? Get started with this quiz and find out!

Who did the Golden State Warriors defeat three out of four years in the NBA Finals?

In 2016, the Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to come back in the NBA Finals after being down 3-1. LeBron James was named MVP of the series, winning his third NBA title.

Which team defeated the University of Alabama in 2013 with one second on the clock by returning a field goal attempt for a touchdown?

The Auburn Tigers advanced to the National Championship game after winning the SEC Championship in 2013. The Tigers lost to Florida State in the final BCS National Championship before the College Football Playoffs began the next season.

Who traded Babe Ruth to their bitter rival the Yankees?

The trade of Babe Ruth became known as the "Curse of the Bambino." The Red Sox would not win another World Series for 86 years.

Which rival did the Bills play in the 1992-93 AFC Championship?

The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls from 1990 through 1993. To the dismay of fans, the team lost all four games.

Who did the Detroit Pistons lose to in the "Malice at the Palace" game?

The "Malice at the Palace" game included two separate brawls, first between players from both teams and then between players and fans. Nine players were suspended by the NBA when the game was over.

Who took Joe Montana's job from him on the 49ers?

Joe Montana was a four-time Super Bowl winner and regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history when injuries began to hamper his career. Steve Young was the new kid on the block and looked to make a name for himself, eventually forcing the 49ers to move on from Montana.

Who did Mark McGwire compete against in 1998 for the single-season home run record?

The steroid controversy has kept both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa out of the Hall of Fame. Still, the 1998 season was something to watch as both players surpassed the previous single-season home run record of 61.

Which rival did the Braves lose to in the first-ever​ NLCS in 1969?

The Mets swept the first ever NLCS three games to none. The team would go on to win the World Series by defeating the Baltimore Orioles.

Who did Joe Louis lose his first professional boxing match against?

Max Schmeling was a native German whose victory over Joe Louis made him a national hero. The boxer served in WWII and continued boxing after the war, retiring in 1948.

Which team did the Philadelphia Flyers defeat in the Division Finals of the 1989 NHL Playoffs?

The Flyers-Penguins rivalry pits two teams from the same state against one another. The 1989 showdown went seven games as the Flyers pulled out the final victory.

Who did Sam Snead defeat at the 1954 Masters?

Over the course of his career, Sam Snead won 82 PGA Tour events. That is a record that still stands today.

Who did Steffi Graf defeat in the Finals of the 1989 US Open?

Steffi Graf dominated the tennis world in 1988. That year, she won all four Grand Slam singles titles, an accomplishment known as the Golden Slam, along with the Olympic gold medal.

While coaching the Browns, which former mentor did Bill Belichick defeat in the 1994 AFC Wildcard Game?

Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick won two Super Bowls together with the New York Giants. Belichick eventually moved on from Parcells, winning five Super Bowls as a head coach himself.

Who defeated Dale Earnhardt at the 1999 Daytona 500?

Dale Earnhardt was one of the greatest racers in NASCAR history, winning 76 Winston Cup races. In 2001, in the final lap of the Daytona 500, Earnhardt was killed in a crash that is still remembered by NASCAR fans.

Who did the Bulls defeat in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals?

The 1992 Bulls were guided by the great Michael Jordan. Jordan finished his career as a six-time NBA champion and five-time MVP.

Who replaced Brett Favre as the Packers quarterback?

Throughout the '90s and early '00s, Brett Favre was viewed by many sports fans as the greatest quarterback of all time. However, the incredible talent of Aaron Rodgers and father time finally forced Favre out of Green Bay.

Who did Reggie Miller play for when he scored eight points in 8.9 seconds against the New York Knicks?

Reggie Miller's rivalry with the Knicks extended to the team's fan base, particularly film director Spike Lee. Lee, a huge fan of the Knicks, constantly argued with Miller from the sideline, forcing Miller to shut him up more than once.

Who defeated the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship?

New England was Peyton Manning's biggest rival throughout his career, consistently defeating him in the playoffs. Manning finally got the best of New England in 2006 on his way to his first Super Bowl.

Which boxer did Mike Tyson bite as he was losing the match?

Evander Holyfield's first fight against Mike Tyson was delayed because Buster Douglas defeated Tyson in a title fight that was a surprise in the boxing community. Holyfield fought and defeated Douglas instead of Tyson, which was criticized by many who thought Tyson was still the best boxer.

Who did Serena Williams defeat in the 2002 US Open?

Serena Williams holds 23 Grand Slam singles titles. That's second all time behind Margaret Court, who has 24.

Which center was Bill Russell matched up against in the 1969 NBA Finals?

Wilt Chamberlain dominated the league, putting up statistics that haven't been seen since. However, it's Bill Russell who won the championships, finishing his career with 11 NBA titles.

Who did O.J. Simpson play for in 1967 when his team defeated their rival UCLA?

O.J. Simpson was the first running back in the NFL to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. He accomplished that feat in 1973, the same season he won the NFL MVP award.

Which team knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs from 1988 through 1990?

The Pistons got the best of Michael Jordan early in his career. Led by Isiah Thomas, the Pistons won back to back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.

Who did Magic Johnson have a rivalry with that started in the NCAA College Basketball Tournament in 1979?

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson first met in the NBA Finals in 1984. The Celtics got the best of that matchup, winning in seven games, but Magic Johnson and the Lakers would get their revenge in 1985 and again in 1987.

Which rival did the Steelers defeat in the 2008 AFC Championship on their way to a Super Bowl?

The Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any other team in the NFL. They currently have six with their latest title coming in 2008.

Which rival did the University of Texas tie in a game in 1984 when the teams were ranked number 1 and 2?

The matchup between Texas and Oklahoma is known as the Red River Rivalry. Texas leads the series, but Oklahoma has the largest margin of victory with a 65-13 victory in 2003.

Who did the Yankees defeat in the 1952 World Series?

The 1952 World Series included a number of Hall of Famers. Players such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Pee Wee Reese, and Jackie Robinson competed against one another in the series.

Who did the United States defeat in the "Miracle on Ice"?

In 1980, the Soviet Union was the four-time defending gold medalist and a heavy favorite to win again. The United States, on the other hand, had the youngest team in the tournament, which consisted of amateur players.

Which rival did Muhammad Ali fight three title fights against in four years?

The first matchup between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was billed as the "Fight of the Century." Both boxers came into the fight undefeated, a first for a heavyweight title match.

Who did Jack Nicklaus win his first major against at the 1962 US Open?

Jack Nicklaus finished his career with more majors than any other golfer in the history of the game. Amazingly, he won at all four major tournaments several times, completing three career Grand Slams.

Which rival of Duke defeated the team in 1992 while Duke was ranked number 1?

Both North Carolina and Duke have dominated college basketball. They have won a combined 11 NCAA Basketball championships.

Who defeated the Bears in the 2010-11 NFC Championship?

At the end of the 2010-11 season, the Packers won their fourth NFL championship. It was their first title since 1997 when Brett Favre led the team.

Which rival did the Lakers defeat in the 2010 NBA Finals?

In a seven game series, the Lakers bested the Celtics to win yet another NBA title. The Celtics currently have more titles than the Lakers, but the Lakers are fast approaching.

While ranked number 1, which rival did Ohio State defeat in 2006 when that team was ranked number 2?

The Michigan and Ohio State rivalry has been dead the past few years. Ohio State currently has a six-game​ winning streak, which started in 2012.

Who did the 49ers defeat in the 1994-95 NFC Championship to advance to the Super Bowl?

From 1992 through 1994, the Cowboys and the 49ers met in the NFC Championship. The 49ers lost the first two season but finally pulled out a victory in 1994.

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