Prior to 2010, the Chicago Bulls playing against the Miami Heat couldn’t be considered a rivalry. Sure, there were a lot of good games played between the two teams, but the contests were always competitive, never contentious.
But when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade, and the Bulls replaced Vinny Del Negro with Tom Thibodeau and added key free agent pickups in Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and CJ Watson, the two teams have been engaged in a battle for NBA supremacy ever since.
So far, Miami has gotten the better of Chicago since the assembling of the two teams. The Heat are coming off three-straight NBA Finals appearances and back-to-back championships, while the Bulls are getting a former MVP back and renewed focus on finally getting past the team from South Beach and playing for a championship.
“I understand the mindset of teams looking to get there and looking at the team they need to take down to get there,” said Dwyane Wade in a recent interview about the rivalry with his hometown Bulls. “We've been there for a couple years and I think we've done a pretty good job of understanding that and knowing we are looked at as multiple teams' biggest challenge.”
Indeed they are. Especially when it comes to Chicago.
Over the past three years, the Bulls have a 7-4 regular season record against the Heat. But in the playoffs, Chicago’s record falls to a pitiful 2-8 against Miami who defeated the Bulls 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, and 4-1 in the second round of the playoffs last year, and you don't get a ring, banner or trophy for regular season series wins over opponents.
Tuesday night’s season opener is just one game out of 82, but both teams are taking the rivalry they have very seriously.
“The games that we play are very competitive. Any team could win any time,” said Wade. “A rivalry, you've got to be able to beat each other and you've got to play each other in the playoffs. But also we've been successful versus teams, and we're the two-time champions, so the last two years we've been where every team wants to go.”