Only hours away from tipping off the NBA season against the Bulls, LeBron James and the Heat held one last practice before addressing the media. His post-practice interview would echo what the Bulls’ players said all offseason.
"We don't like them, they don't like us," James said. "It's not unheard of. We all know how it is."
The Heat’s practice ended with assistant coaches pushing and shoving Miami’s three stars as they drove through the lane. The 20-minute drill was intended to emulate the Bulls’ physical defense.
Miami understands the rest of the NBA will fix a target on the team’s back for the second year in a row. As for the reenergized Derrick Rose and the Bulls, the team feels it has a strong chance to overcome the Heat this year despite losing in five games against James and company months ago.
A great first start would be a victory hours after the Heat receive their championship rings and raise the team’s third championship banner.
"It don't matter who it is," James assured the media. "But we like the fact that it's the Bulls."
The Bulls held a grudge all offseason. As we’ve seen from previous matchups, the two teams really want to beat the other. However, the advantage has been for Miami.
"But it's not just us, it's the city,” Jimmy Butler said in July when referring to a mutual dislike between the Bulls and Heat. “That rivalry, it's crazy. They're the back-to-back champions and when you think three-peat, you think Chicago, so we can't let that happen."
The road to a potential three-peat begins in Miami for the Heat. As for the Bulls, a chance to beat the team that has put them out of the playoffs twice in the last three years would be a great start to the 2013-14 season.