Sibling vs. Sibling Super Bowl Edition: Historic Head-to-Head Championship Meetings
Travis and Jason Kelce are set to become the first pair of brothers to face off in the Super Bowl this Sunday, and it got us thinking about some of the other first family meetings that have gone down on the biggest stages in sports.
Steph Curry vs. Seth Curry – 2019 NBA Western Conference Finals
While the NBA is still waiting for a storybook league championship tale to unfold between brothers, a conference final is the next best thing. Sure, the Curry brothers have seen plenty of regular-season battles since Seth entered the league in 2013 to join Steph, who was drafted four years earlier by the Warriors, but this was for the highest stakes.
When Seth’s Portland Trail Blazers upset the Denver Nuggets in seven games to join Golden State, who had disposed of the Houston Rockets in six, the Currys became the first fraternal foes to meet in a league Conference Final.
As Steph and his Dubs have been known to do, they overwhelmed the far less talented Blazers in four straight. The senior Curry torched Portland for 36.5 points per game en route to his fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.
Seth didn’t fare as well as his big brother on the stat sheet. The role player scored 25 total points in the series, while Steph’s lowest-scoring game of the four was 36.
Doc Johnston vs. Jimmy Johnston – 1920 World Series
While they may not be household names in baseball lore, the Johnston brothers were the first in MLB history to go head-to-head in a World Series.
In Game 1 of a potential nine (yup, they played nine-game series back then), Jimmy started at third base for the Brooklyn Robins, while Doc came in as a pinch hitter for the Cleveland Indians.
The series went the modern-day max, with Cleveland winning in seven, five games to two. Doc picked up personal and team bragging rights over his bro as his Indians not only won the series, but his .273 batting average edged Jimmy’s .214.
Brothers meeting in a World Series has happened only two more times since. Bob and Irish Meusel met three straight times as the New York Giants and New York Yankees faced off from 1921-23 for World titles.
Over 40 years after that, it was a brotherly battle at the hot corner. Clete Boyer patrolled third base for the Yankees while brother Ken made the duo the first sibling combo to play against each other at the same position when he took third for the St. Louis Cardinals. Kenny’s Cards took home the 1964 championship that year, and he locked up the NL MVP award.
We’re getting closer to bridging the almost 60-year gap as Philadelphia Phillies’ ace Aaron Nola pitched to backstop brother Austin in last season’s NLCS.
Terry Reardon vs. Kenny Reardon – 1946 Stanley Cup Final
From the Sutters to Tkachuks to Stastnys to Sedins, it seems like hockey produces the most brothers combos of the Big Four sports, but Stanley Cup meetings are still super rare.
It was an Original Six matchup that produced the first brother vs. brother scenario because it happened when only six teams were in the league.
The Boston Bruins met the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in a Stanley Cup Final after hooking up 16 years earlier. Terry Reardon centered a Boston squad looking to avenge the 1930 series defeat, while Kenny Reardon patrolled the blue line for the Habs, who were looking for their second Cup in three years.
Ken got the edge on his older brother that year as his Canadiens rolled over the Bs four games to one. The younger Reardon also carved out a better career resume, as he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
It would take another six decades until the NHL would have a brother vs. brother Stanley Cup story. Rob Niedermayer’s New Jersey Devils downed Scott’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in a thrilling seven-game set in 2003.
Venus Williams vs. Serena Williams – 2001 US Open Final
While they weren’t the first siblings to meet in a Grand Slam Final, my oh my, it had been a while. Before the Williams’s faced off in 2001, Maud Watson meeting and defeating sister Lillian in three sets in 1884 was the last time siblings met in a Grand Slam final.
This was, however, the first time the Williams went head to head for a major. Want some more firsts? Also, the first Grand Slam singles championship match between African Americans and the first major women’s final televised in primetime.
There isn’t a single sports siblings list out there that would not feature the Williams sisters near the top, or at least there shouldn’t be. It’s tough to argue against Serena and Venus as the most successful pair to play the same major sport – brothers or sisters. While Serena established herself as the dominant player on the court, both reached superstar status, a rare occurrence between sibling pro athletes.
The pair went head-to-head six times in the pros before stepping on the same court to battle for a major championship for the first time. Venus held a 4-2 career mark over Serena as they got set to battle for the US Open title. Another slam on the American’s home soil would undoubtedly add a few bonus points to their own personal standings board.
It would take just over an hour for Serena to dispose of Venus in straight sets and carve her name on the US Open Trophy. While Venus would have undoubtedly preferred her third consecutive title in Flushing, perhaps some consolation came that for the fourth straight year, a Williams won the event. Serena grabbed her first career US title in 1999 to start the Venus+Serena fourpeat.