By Bryan Crawford
Christmas for NBA fans is finally here as the 203-14 season kicks off Tuesday night.
In Chicago, Bulls fans are excited to see Derrick Rose finally play in a game that means something with the team set to kick off the season in game one of a double header against the Miami Heat.
The Bulls and Heat rivalry is one that has captivated the league for the past three seasons. Widely regarded as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference -- especially with D. Rose healthy -- many feel that this is the year Chicago will finally get past Miami and make it to the NBA Finals to play for a championship.
But it all starts with the first game on South Beach as LeBron James and Co. will receive their hardware for winning the title last season. Although there seems to be mutual dislike between these two clubs, at the superstar level – meaning Rose, James and Wade – there is a level of respect that exists there.
"He’s one of the best in the league," D. Rose said to reporters about LeBron James after practice at the Berto Center on Monday. "His size, the way he passes the ball, he’s just an overall dangerous player."
When asked to clarify his statement on if James was "the best" or one of the best in the NBA, Rose said, "You can call him the best. He won a championship. He’s got two under him, so for sure he’s the best."
Both James and Wade have been positive about Rose’s return to the NBA, saying that it was good for the game of basketball. But in no way do those pleasantries mask the fact that these are two teams who just don’t like one another.
"We don't like them, they don't like us," James told ESPN. "It's not unheard of. We all know how it is."
"We have a special little thing with those guys," said Chris Bosh. "The fans want to see it. We want to play them and they want us, too. So it'll be good."
"I’m looking forward to it, but I’m going to take it as any other game," said D. Rose. "It’s the first game. It’s the next game, of course, and we’re just trying to sharpen things up, play the same way and get our chemistry a little bit better."