Nothing beats the intensity of a hard-fought game between two bitter rivals.However, when those rivals face each other enough times, sooner or later things get ugly.
The best sports rivalries have not only given us some amazing moments, they’ve also produced some of the most vicious and brutal fights we’ve ever seen on the field.
Arguably the fiercest foes in all of hockey, the Bruins and Canadiens have done battle many times over the years, often in the biggest of circumstances.
From the Richard Riot, to their numerous playoff clashes, to this classic brawl from 1975 that involved every player on both benches, a few fans, and even some members of the Boston Police Department.
What began as a run-of-the-mill playoff series took a nasty turn when Colorado's Claude Lemieux checked Detroit's Chris Draper face first into the boards during Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals.
The Avs won that game and the Cup. But over the next two years, the teams would meet again several times, including three famous brawls, where Red Wing enforcer Darren McCarty would take his revenge on Lemieux and Patrick Roy would fight two different Detroit goalies.
The Red Wings would turn the tables in the '97 Conference Finals -- which featured its own Game 4 brawl --- beating the Avs on the way to their first Cup in 50 years.
The Lakers and Celtics have long been bitter rivals, but it never quite reached the level of violence that Boston's mini-rivalry with the Pistons reached in 1987.
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bill Laimbeer pushed Larry Bird over the edge with a hard takedown. (Bird actually got himself ejected after throwing the ball at him.)
Then in Game 5, Robert Parrish clobbered Laimbeer without warning earning his own suspension for Game 6.
It wouldn't matter though, as Boston took the series.
NASCAR has had more than its fair share of fisticuffs, but perhaps the most famous took place immediately following the 1979 Daytona 500.
As Yarborough tried to pass race leader Donnie Allison on the final lap, the two drivers collided wrecking both of their cars (and giving the race to Richard Petty.)
When Donnie's brother Bobby got out of his car to stick up for his sibling, Yarborough found himself fighting both of them, with helmets and fists swinging wildly.
Ironically, the fight helped launched NASCAR into the national spotlight, drawing new, added attention to the wild and woolly sport.
These two schools have a rivalry that dates back to the Reconstruction era and 100+ years of 'friendly' football have not cooled things off.
Most people remember this vicious 2004 brawl (that turned out to be Lou Holtz's last game as a football coach), but die-hards also recall a 1983 clash, where one Gamecock player tried to beat up a Tiger with his own helmet.
Another good old fashioned Southern rivalry, Mississippi State and Ole Miss have had their share of memorable moments, but the most notorious might be this 1997 brawl that started before the annual 'Egg Bowl' was even on the air.
Ole Miss won the game 15-14 after coach Jackie Sherill elected to go for a 2-point conversion in the closing seconds instead of a tie.
This Midwest-West Coast rivalry has been competitive for years, but has been mostly peaceful throughout its history.
However, things have occasionally got out of hand like during this riot during the 1971 game in South Bend.
One of the best rivalries of the 1980s has not been contested since then, in part because of this fight that took place in the tunnel before their 1988 'Catholics vs. Convicts' game.
Notre Dame won that day, 31-30, ending the Hurricane's 36-game regular season winning streak.
The two teams will finally meet again in 2012, for their first regular season game in more than 20 years.
The always provocative T.O. tried to start his own one-man rivalry against the city of Dallas in 2000, running all the way from the end zone to the 50-yard-line star to celebrate a touchdown in the Cowboys home park.
After Emmitt Smith responded in kind, Owens tried it again ... only to be met by a flying body tackle from Dallas DB George Teague.
The headbutt heard around the world.
No one knows exactly what Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane that would compel the French striker to headbutt his opponent, get himself kicked out of a tied World Cup final, and cost his team a chance at glory is his final international game ever.
But it sure made a good story.
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