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LeBron James on Heat-Bulls Rivalry: 'We Don't Like Them, They Don't Like Us'

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LeBron James on Heat-Bulls Rivalry: 'We Don't Like Them, They Don't Like Us'
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Hate is a strong word, but the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat really, really, really don't like each other.

"We don't like them, they don't like us," LeBron James said of the Bulls, per ESPN's Tom Haberstroh. "It's not unheard of. We all know how it is."

That we do. At least, we thought we did.

In preparation of facing Chicago to open the season Tuesday night, the Heat's assistant coaches, according to Haberstroh, "mauled" LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh while armed with handheld football pads as they attacked the rim. The goal: Readying the Big Three for the hacking they would take against the Bulls.

"No, not at all," Bosh said when asked if the Heat breaking out the football pads was a coincidence. "It's all planned. We know they're big, physical and we know we have to finish."

Physical is an understatement. Coach Tom Thibodeau preaches toughness (and no water breaks) in Chicago, and the Bulls aren't above handing out a beating. That's their job. 

/Getty Images
With Rose back, this rivalry has only grown.

This rivalry has only intensified with the return of Derrick Rose as well, who previously admitted the Heat were the Bulls' biggest rival

"If you want say [that], yeah," he said, according to ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell. "For sure, Miami."

Both teams are competing for a championship this season. For the Heat, it's about winning a third straight title. For the Bulls, it's about making the most of Rose's return by getting some of what Miami has.

Tension also still lingers from last year's playoff matchup. It was the Heat who ended Chicago's postseason run. Even though Rose was on the bench, the Bulls don't take kindly to defeat.

Tempers flared and elbows were thrown. Nazr Mohammed even sent LeBron to the ground. The Bulls were aggressive then, and they're going to be just as physical now. Extra physical, even.

Miami will raise its 2012-13 championship banner and receive its rings prior to the game. Chicago won't be watching, but they'll know it's happening, just like the Heat once did.

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They played the Dallas Mavericks following the lockout in 2011, months after they lost to them in the NBA Finals. Similar to the way the Heat wanted to rain on the Mavs' parade, the Bulls will look to do the same.

"We wanted to embarrass [the Mavericks] on their home floor," Bosh said, per Haberstroh. "We wanted to defecate on their night and we know [the Bulls] want to do that to us. They want to spoil what we have going and we're aware of that. We have to hit first." 

All the while knowing the Bulls are ones for hitting back.

 

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