Bulls vs. Heat: Chippy Game Exposes Bitterness of Eastern Conference Rivalry
It all started when LeBron James decked John Lucas on a legal screen.
There was nothing wrong with what James did, but tempers flared momentarily and then the game resumed.
Not long afterwards, Dwayne Wade gave Rip Hamilton a forearm shiver right across his chest, launching him out of bounds after he had received a pass from teammate C.J. Watson. Wade received a flagrant foul for the infraction, and he's lucky he didn't get ejected.
As is the case with all sports, the best teams are always at one another's throats as they try and prove their dominance.
Now that the playoffs are approaching, the pissing contests between the dominant teams are getting more and more chippy.
Ever since James and Chris Bosh joined up with Wade down in Miami teams have been gunning for them. Nobody liked the fact that the Heat tried to conjure up a championship by creating some kind of "dream team" out of three of the best players in the NBA.
The Bulls responded to the challenge last year by trumping Miami by four games in the regular season.
In the end, the Heat had the last laugh by beating the pants off of Derrick Rose and the Bulls in five games during the Conference Finals series before losing in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.
This year, the Bulls are once again atop the Eastern Conference standings heading into the playoffs. The best part about what they've accomplished is that they have won a ton of games without their leader—since Rose has missed 26 games due to a nagging foot injury (H/T The Chicago Tribune).
This failure to claim the top spot has to rub Wade and James the wrong way, especially considering the fact that they had been playing a brand of basketball lately that's far from inspirational before going on their latest four-game winning streak.
Who will come out of the East in the playoffs?
Many pundits have suggested that the Heat don't have what it takes to win a championship even with their stars, putting even more pressure on those stars to prove them wrong.
The Heat are out to prove that not only do they have the talent to win a championship, but that they have the grit and toughness to do it as well.
This rivalry is just getting started folks, and from the looks of it we're in for a treat if/when the two teams meet up in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
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