This is SB Nation’s rivalry week. Team sites across the network will reflect on the rivalries they had throughout history.
For the Washington Wizards, this is ... sorta weird. They haven’t won 50 games in a regular season since the 1978-79 NBA season as the Washington Bullets. And because they were never a top-tier team for over 40 years, they’ve never really had any long-standing rivals that beat the test of time.
In the last two decades, the 2000s and the 2010s, the Wizards never really had a true mutual rivalry, at least in my opinion. They faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs three consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2008, but they lost each series.
Then in the 2010s, the Wizards did face two teams in the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks (2015 and 2017) and the Toronto Raptors (2015 and 2018), twice in recent years, but they never really became rivalries because the teams’ peaks never truly synced at the same time.
In the last decade, there was a point guard rivalry between John Wall and Kyrie Irving, in particular from 2014-17 as the Wizards and the Cavaliers made the playoffs multiple times. But the Wizards never faced the Cavaliers in the playoffs during that time. Cleveland also made four consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 2015-18, including a championship in 2016, while the Wizards never advanced past the second round of the playoffs in any season.
Perhaps I’m sounding a bit harsh, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the Wizards are a team without rivals.