We don’t really write too much about tennis, primarily because it isn’t one of the sports covered by our handicapping consulting services. But Aziz Ansari and Donald Trump don’t cover tennis, either, and they still joined the ranks of Oprah and the Kardashians as some of the many familiar faces present to watch Serena’s victory over Venus as the legendary sports siblings faced off in the US Open this week.
The point is, you don’t have to be an avid tennis fan to understand how important that match was. Serena might get the calendar year Grand Slam she’s gunning for (it’s about the only thing she hasn’t accomplished besides a career boxed set), and both Venus and Serena are both getting up there in years. Venus has no plans to retire, but anyone who watched the match could tell that the crowd was showing her the same favoritism they always show the underdog in a bout like this. The cheers for Venus were always twice as enthusiastic as the cheers for her little sis.
But the match between Venus and Serena was about more than the thrill of watching an aging legend take on a reigning superstar. It was about watching two incredibly talented sisters who have been dominating the game for years. And Serena’s adoring Instagram post after the match, which included numerous pictures of her and her older sister, reminded us that the two are more than just sports siblings with a kind-hearted rivalry. They were sisters before they ever picked up a racquet. The following seven sets of sports siblings show a similar combination of love and talent that we can’t help but admire.
Stephen and Seth Curry
We’ve talked before about athletes with too much ego, as well as those who are great about keeping their egos in check. Stephen Curry is the perfect balance. At a recent promotional event in China, Steph played ball against a 12-year-old girl. As he showed off his crazy dribbling moves, you might’ve expected him to beat her into the ground like the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals. But he held back on his defense, letting her win and gaining some appreciation from the crowd.
But let’s face it, Steph Curry doesn’t need to beat a 12-year-old girl to feel good about himself. He’s already known to be one of the best point guards in the NBA after the way he led the Golden State Warriors through an undefeated regular season (and had us on the edge of our seats in the postseason). Not only is he a blast to watch as he zips down the court, netting three-pointers while hardly even glancing at the basket, but he’s even interesting to watch when there’s no ball in play. Even James Camp of The New York Times has been watching and trying to figure out why Steph Curry can’t stop chewing on his mouth guard.
Now, it looks like Steph’s younger brother will be playing ball in his neck of the woods. Seth Curry, the younger of the two sports siblings, has signed a two-year contract (for a guaranteed $2 million) with the Sacramento Kings. This isn’t the first foot he’s set in the NBA, but you might not be too familiar with him. It’s been an extremely hard road for Seth Curry, and he’s hoping that this new contract will help him settle in a bit as a pro athlete. He’s certainly got some chops, so we’re fairly excited to see how he measures up against his brother.
While we cannot yet say whether or not the Curry brothers are on equal footing in terms of talent, we can certainly say that these two sports siblings share a bond. A while back, Seth wrote an amazing article about their relationship, as well as the thrill of watching his older brother excel throughout an MVP season. While he talks a lot about the fun they have as brothers, he makes it very clear that he respects Steph as a player.
They’re certainly great brothers, but these sports siblings should also be able to present viewers with a pretty entertaining sibling rivalry. During an interview with Dan Patrick, Steph (who humorously refers to Patrick as “Dave” at the end) said that he would have no problem giving his brother a tough run on the court. The Curry brothers have apparently been engaging in some light-hearted trash talk, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t excited for the chance to play against each other. According to Steph, their game on November 7 is going to be “a dream come true for sure, no matter how it goes.”
Pau and Marc Gasol
Pau and Marc Gasol are not only two of the most ideal sports siblings in the world of basketball, but they have a very archetypal relationship as brothers in general. An ESPN article on the Gasol brothers, published when they found themselves starting an All-Star Game against one another, details the fundamental differences between the two. The older Pau was an avid student as a child, and has always shown care in everything he does. Marc, the quintessential baby brother, is a bit more enthusiastic and approaches everything with occasionally reckless passion. In short, the two Spanish sports siblings are, in many ways, as different as night and day.
Possessing many of the traits commonly associated with an older brother, Pau Gasol is a very intuitive athlete. He was an integral part of the Chicago Bulls’ offense last season, and rumors that there might be some merit to trading him will not change the fact that a shot-blocking power forward with Pau’s scoring percentage should never be traded for anything other than financial reasons. And even then, it would be a risky move. Besides, while last season could’ve gone better, Pau believes that the Bulls should have an excellent season with a new coach in place. He plans to work well with his new coach, making every game count.
Pau’s definitely getting some decent chances to practice for the coming season. He’s playing for Spain in EuroBasket 2015 this summer, and he’s been off to a great start. He was one of the Spanish national team’s best players when they faced off against Turkey in their second game, and his outside shooting appears to be improving. Granted, his actual volume of outside shots was relatively low. Precision strategist that he is, Pau Gasol isn’t going to be making a whole lot of outside shots for the Bulls this season unless he’s certain that he’s improved enough to make it worthwhile for the team.
Marc Gasol might not be as cautious as his older brother, but the younger of the two sports siblings is a force to be reckoned with. He’s going to be remaining with the Memphis Grizzlies this year, a decision that resulted in a five-year contract worth $110 million. This is much higher than his last contract, but he’s certainly earned the pay raise. Marc Gasol is arguably the best center currently in the NBA. Like his brother, he has excellent defensive skills (his height doesn’t hurt him in this regard), and he’s becoming something of a team leader. He’s been improving steadily since he first started out, so it’s always exciting to see these two sports siblings butt heads on the court.
Not only are Pau and Marc Gasol the only brothers to ever face off against each other in the center of the court at the top of an All-Star Game, but their unique personalities, playing styles, and physical builds add a unique flavor to the association. The two Spanish sports siblings also get along quite well. They believe that they could fare well in a two-on-two match against any other set of brothers in the league, and they know each other quite well. When NBA TV’s The Starters invited the Gasol brothers to participate in a Newlywed Game-style challenge, Pau and Marc got every question right.
Reggie and Cheryl Miller
Reggie Miller is one of the greatest shooters ever to play the sport of basketball, period. Drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1987, his long career included more than 2500 three-pointers. Not only is he easily the greatest outside shooter in NBA history, but he’s also one of the top dozen scorers with more than 25,000 total career points. He was also the bane of the New York Knicks. The two teams already had a rivalry in full swing during the 1994 NBA Playoffs, but Reggie kicked it up into full gear during Game 5 when he scored 25 points in a single quarter. The Knicks won the series, but Reggie Miller still became a veritable supervillain in the eyes of many of their fans. He became a Hall of Famer in 2012.
His older sister, Cheryl Miller, is also a Hall of Famer. She now coaches the NAIA Langston Lions, and is doing an excellent job. She has said in interviews that she’s previously wondered if the sport has passed her by. Whether or not this is the case, she didn’t need too long to leave her mark. Despite never really making it into the WNBA, Cheryl was a key member of USC’s Women of Troy during the 1980s. She also has gold medals in the 1984 Olympics and 1983 Pan American Games. Her short career was so surprisingly laden with accolades that USA TODAY Sports actually named her as one of their candidates for the greatest women’s basketball player of all time.
The Millers are very similar in a number of ways. Reggie and Cheryl are about the same age (50 and 51, respectively), they have both taken jobs as sportscasters, and they have both been enshrined as two of the most notable basketball players who ever lived. They are also the only reason this list is about sports siblings and not brothers. By necessity, the two played in different leagues. But they still had something of a friendly rivalry, and it pushed them to become the only brother-sister combination to ever enter the Hall of Fame.
Rob and Scott Niedermayer
There are a lot of things that make Rob and Scott Niedermayer two of the more interesting sports siblings out there, but one of the most compelling facts about them has to be the fact that they have actually faced each other while going for the Stanley Cup. Defenseman Scott, the older of the two, had already won two Stanley Cups when he played against his little brother in 2003. Scott was aligned with the New Jersey Devils, while Rob was playing forward for the Anaheim Ducks. According to Rob, the brother-versus-brother situation was a major stressor for their mother. Not because of who to root for (she was rooting for Rob, who had yet to win a Cup), but because of all the interviews that were requested of her.
As far as the brothers themselves, they didn’t really talk much about the Stanley Cup Finals. Since Rob had never won a championship before, it was difficult for Scott to strike the balance between supporting his brother while still representing his team as well as he could. But in 2007, both Rob and his older brother were playing for the Anaheim Ducks. With one brother who had won the Cup before, and another who was determined not to lose it again, the team was unstoppable. They won the Stanley Cup together that year, resolving the tensions that had been created by their former on-ice rivalry.
These talented sports siblings are now retired from the ice. Scott is an assistant coach for the Ducks, but Rob has moved on from hockey altogether. Nevertheless, they will always be remembered by hockey fans for the impressive skillsets they brought to the NHL. Scott was one of the better skaters around, with a fluidity of movement that was practically unmatched. Rob had a diverse enough array of skills that he could easily play forward, center or right wing at will. While Rob is more likely to show up in the news for selling his home at a loss than for anything else these days, he and his older brother are still two of the better sports siblings to grace the ice since the dawn of the millennium.
Bengie, José and Yadier Molina
This next set of sports siblings is interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, they’re the only set of three on this list. Second, they are the only set of brothers to become MLB catchers (winning two World Series rings each in the process). These Puerto Rican sports siblings have done a lot to entertain their fans. This could easily be due to their high level of energy and enthusiasm for the game; although all three of them are getting up there in years, only one has retired.
Bengie Molina is only recently retired, having played a career that spanned from 1998 to 2014. He’s got one of the more interesting World Series wins in the books, because he wasn’t actually playing for the San Francisco Giants when they won in 2010. Still, he nabbed a default win due to the circumstances of his trade timeline. He helped unite every team he played for, and he established himself as a decent batter with 144 home runs and over 700 runs in total (despite a so-so .274 batting average). Much like Pau Gasol, the oldest of the Molina brothers has always earned recognition due to his respect for the game. He doesn’t believe in showing off. Whenever he stepped up to the plate, whether donning a batting glove or a catcher’s mitt, he was simply there to do his job as best he could.
To be honest, José Molina is probably nearing retirement. For now, however, he is still trying to bring what he can to the sport. He’s been in the sport nearly as long as his older brother, although his .233 batting average leaves a bit to be desired. While he may not be the best batter, he’s great as a catcher. Known specifically for framing pitches like a star, José Molina might be nearing the end of his career. After being released from the Tampa Bay Rays, he was unable to do much in free agency due to a major knee injury. Following his surgery, however, he found a role with his younger brother’s team, the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a guest instructor for the team during this last spring training period, enabling the younger two of these three sports siblings to work together for a couple of months.
Yadier Molina is the youngest of these three sports siblings, but he is arguably the most talented of the three. Much like José, Yadi excels at framing and handling the pitching staff. In fact, he might be the best catcher in the MLB right now, even though this hasn’t been his best season. That said, it hasn’t been a terrible season, either. Last month, he hit his hundredth career home run. And just this week, he accidentally showed off his apparent super strength by shattering a bat when he tried to tap home plate. He also has some love for his brothers. When he and José were playing on opposing teams last year, Yadi (who was out of the game with a thumb injury) had two packets of crackers left for José at home plate.
While the Molina brothers have a lot of respect for each other, these sports siblings owe a debt of gratitude to their father as well. In fact, Bengie actually wrote a book about him entitled Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Dynasty. In an interview about the book, Bengie claims that their father’s influence was what taught the Molina brothers how to respect the game and how to deal so well with their pitching staffs. It’s easy to talk about sports siblings and their love for one another. But in the case of the Molina brothers, they credit the family unit as a whole to their success.
Peyton and Eli Manning
These are two of the greatest sports siblings currently active in their sport, so there’s really not too much we can say about them that you won’t already know. Even if football isn’t the sport you choose to follow, you probably recognize these two from their commercials. Baby brother Eli Manning has been taking over for Rob Lowe as a DirecTV spokesman (Lowe’s commercials can’t be run anymore). Tony Romo has also been working for DirecTV, which is quite fitting since Eli and Romo are often compared to one another as quarterbacks.
Peyton, meanwhile, is known for his Papa John’s commercials. So well-known, in fact, that defensive players for the Philadelphia Eagles began shouting the name of the pizza place in 2013 in response to Peyton calling an audible. He has also invested in 21 locations in Colorado, largely due to their legal stance on marijuana and the impact it’s had on pizza sales. Oh, and Peyton’s also done a commercial with his little brother. Because of course he has.
But for those who don’t care about what these two sports siblings have done on TV, let’s talk a bit about their work on the field. There has been some concern that Peyton, now 40, might be losing some of his game. There’s speculation that the best offensive strategy for the Denver Broncos this season is going to be one that involves tossing the ball off as much as possible, as his ability to throw deep passes might be escaping him. This concern is also based on this summer’s strange combination of excellent practices followed by lackluster preseason games. Nonetheless, WR Demaryius Thomas points out that their quarterback has faltered in previous summers before delivering the excellent play style for which he is known. His team might not win rings this year, but Peyton isn’t done playing to the best of his abilities.
Eli Manning, the younger of the two inimitable sports siblings, is something of an enigma. In 2013, Grantland published an article on his elusive personality. But by all appearances, he seems to be happy, fun-loving, and energetic. This last quality makes him an excellent quarterback. He’s never been the best quarterback in the league, although there are some who believe that he might soon be in line to become MVP. He’s been one of the better postseason quarterbacks in recent years, often when the Giants were expected to perform poorly. Even if his regular season stats don’t measure up to those of some other quarterbacks out there, he’s still a force with which to be reckoned. Whether or not that force will be enough to take Eli to another Super Bowl remains to be seen.
Peyton and Eli learned a lot from watching their father, Archie Manning, play for the New Orleans Saints when they were kids. The Saints were doing pretty badly back then. Cooper Manning, the oldest brother of the sports siblings (and the only one not to play pro ball) recalls a Saints game where he and Peyton wore bags over their heads. They didn’t even know that it was meant to be an insult to the team, they had just seen others doing it. According to Cooper, Peyton and Eli are really growing into their own. Like all brothers, they have occasionally fought. But the Manning family has a tight-knit bond when off the field, even if the older of the two sports siblings has an embarrassing story or two about his younger brother. As for on the field? Well, we probably won’t get to see a Broncos-Giants Super Bowl before Peyton retires, but we can only imagine that the two QBs would have fun with it. Even though Eli openly admits that Peyton is the better quarterback.
Jim and John Harbaugh
Our last pair of sports siblings is unique in that they are the only pair of coaches on this list. Jim Harbaugh is the new coach of the Michigan Wolverines, which spurred some buzz that they’d be contenders for the NCAA championship this year. Then, their 24-17 loss to the Utah Utes caused some concern that the team might not be as well-off as expected. Jim Harbaugh himself was disappointed by the performance. He reportedly took the offensive and defensive teams into the film room individually to review the game tape and call them on their mistakes. He wasn’t just trying to berate them, but rather instill in them a sense of accountability that will help them perform better over the course of the season. Hopefully for Michigan fans, his strategy will work.
John Harbaugh is slightly older than Jim, and is the current coach of the Baltimore Ravens. If it sounded like Jim might have been a bit irate when reviewing the game tapes, it can be assumed that this runs in the family. Last month, Harbaugh all but refused to answer a reporter’s inquiries, responding: “Give me a good question and I’ll answer it.” He has since admitted that his halftime interviews could be a bit more congenial. That said, he might be in for a decent season. Sports Illustrated predicts that the Ravens are going to win the Super Bowl this year, although it’s too early to tell if this is accurate. John Harbaugh himself has commented on the difficulty of their schedule, during which they’ll be opening with a number of away games.
Much like the Niedermayer brothers, these two sports siblings have actually faced off against each other in a championship. In 2013, while Jim was still coach of the San Francisco 49ers, John and his Ravens won the Super Bowl 34-31. Even so, it was an amicable win. Much like when Scott Niedermayer beat his brother Rob in the Stanley Cup, John Harbaugh did not feel great about triumphing over his own brother. While the older coach was victorious, he still states his belief that Jim was “the best coach in football.” The two did shake hands after the game, although Jim refused to hug his older brother. John, apparently the sappier of the two, muttered “I love you” before his brother left the field.
Not all sports siblings share particularly heart-warming moments. The rivalries between them can often make that difficult. But the love? That never dies.