Nothing is more exciting than 90 minutes of running that ends in a 0-0 score. And when a player does find the back of the net, the celebration is worth the price of a vuvuzela.
Want a rivalry? Diego Maradona and Pele make the Lakers and Celtics look like best friends. The two soccer legends don’t get along — it goes back years — and they are taking their feud to a new level of unintentional comedy.
First, Maradona called out Pele for doubting South Africa’s ability to host a successful World Cup.
Pele countered by saying Maradona took the job as Argentina coach “because he needed the money.”
This wasn’t good-natured heckling. It was old-fashioned disrespect.
“I don’t know why he speaks about me so much,” Pele said of Maradona. “He must be in love with me.”
Maradona, never one to shy from controversy, offered a cutting reply.
“Pele has to go back to the museum,” Maradona said Wednesday, referring to the man who led Brazil to three World Cup titles and is one of the few soccer names non-soccer fans might recognize.
Maradona then took a jab at an entire nation while dismissing French soccer great Michel Platini, who doesn’t think much of the Argentine’s ability to game plan.
“I always had a very distant relationship with him — hello and goodbye,” Maradona said. “We know how the French are, and Platini is French, and he thinks of himself as being more than the rest of the world. I’ve never paid him any attention, and I won’t do it now.”
Now it’s Pele’s move, and if you’ve ever seen some of his highlights, he’s never been slow to respond. Don’t expect him to stay quiet for long.
The same goes for Maradona, who’s become as famous for his outspokenness as his soccer skills.
So who will have the last word — Pele or Maradona?
This is Russell vs. Jabbar. Bird vs. Magic. Kobe vs. Jordan.
And this is what makes the World Cup great. On almost any other stage, two of the greatest in a sport’s history would not be trading insults back and forth like 10-year-olds on the schoolyard. They would be saying all the right things, being politically correct, appearing dignified in public.
But the World Cup is unfiltered and unscripted. The desire to win makes people act crazy. Back and forth it goes between nations, players, fans and legends. The tournament is a passion play for everyone involved.
Game 7 between the Lakers and Celtics is the perfect prelude.