Regardless of who wins this series, the Bulls-Heat are on course to become the next great rivalry in the annals of NBA history. Bosh, Wade and James won’t be leaving the Heat anytime soon, while Rose seems destined to spend his whole career with the Bulls.
If both teams make good personnel moves, the real NBA Finals will be the Eastern Conference Finals for at least a half decade or so. The Thunder will probably have a couple nice runner-up finishes, but they won’t be able to compete with future improved Bulls and Heat squads.
The only thing that could stop this rivalry from blossoming would be if the Bulls manage to get Dwight Howard. As great as that would be for Bulls fans, the NBA would be worst off—with Howard, no team could compete with the Bulls.
Michael Jordan had no peer in his day in the NBA, and that hurt the cultivation of a historic rivalry when he played. Sure, they beat the Jazz twice, but was that ever in doubt? The most recent contemporary occurrence of all-time greats repeatedly competing against each other for NBA Championships goes all the way back to Magic versus Bird. Rose versus LeBron or Wade, depending on who vaults themselves into the unquestioned leader of the Heat, has the potential to match that great rivalry.
The Bulls-Heat rivalry will become the most entertaining rivalry of all time. They will be unable to match the lifespan of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, but that is what will make this rivalry so great. For a very finite number of years, all NBA championships will go through Chicago or Miami.
Fans of both teams can expect to experience the unbridled joys of winning it all, as well as the unequivocal heartbreak of losing Game 7 in overtime, or whatever star-crossed endings shall occur.
What makes this future rivalry so great is the human quality of these team’s stars. Rose, James and Wade will likely be remembered as top-ten players in NBA history, but none of them have what it takes to be the greatest—which ironically is what will make this rivalry so compelling.
If there was a future Jordan on the court in this series, there would be no rivalry. On their best days, LeBron and Rose are as good as Jordan, but what will make this rivalry so tough to turn off is the fact that we know they aren’t Jordan.
One game both players may turn in Jordanesque triple-doubles, but unlike Jordan, they are both capable of choking. The unilateral triumphs and cataclysmic train wrecks is what will make this rivalry so great. Tonight, Rose and his missed free throw conjured up memories of the 2008 NCAA National Championship, and barring a magnificent comeback, he was the one who blew it this year.
Rose came into this series with the weaker team, but that will not be the case forever. Next year might be the year LeBron or Wade cracks, and believe me they will. Remember, they cried after a regular season loss.
Rose, Wade, and LeBron may be 99.99 percent of the player Michael Jordan was, but what separates Jordan from the rest is that last one hundredth of a percent. No player ever has been able to get it done like him in the clutch, and most likely no player ever will.
That’s what makes this future rivalry so great.