So, it looks like the NFL lockout is coming to an end soon. And that gives all of us NBA fans a little bit of hope that this season won't be entirely lost.
As we brace ourselves for a lengthy vacation from professional basketball, we can still look ahead to the games we may see.
The fact that the NBA has released the official schedule helps me feel (a little) confident that we will indeed have professional basketball this year.
So, without further delay, here are the 10 most important games on the Chicago Bulls' 2011-2012 schedule.
What better way to start the new season than playing against the defending NBA champions?
This game will certainly be interesting not only for the star power, but we will also get an early look at which new additions to these teams are working out and which players that left were more important than management thought.
This game marks the start of Chicago's annual circus road trip.
Early every season, the circus comes to Chicago and the Bulls go out on a extended road trip. They will play eight straight away games this season from the 13th through the 26th.
A win would be a nice way to get the ball rolling for the two-week trip.
We all remember what happened to Chicago in the playoffs last season. After a monumental Game 1 win, Miami stepped up and exposed every Chicago weakness.
In their first match up of the season, both teams will want to make a statement.
The Bulls need to show that they are a different team from the one that lost 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Just 10 days after visiting Miami for their first matchup of the season, the Bulls will be going back to Miami one more time.
Beating the Heat twice in Miami would certainly show that the Bulls aren't intimidated by the "Big 3."
Playing in one of the most historic arenas is reason enough to be excited, but when Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are your hosts, Chicago will need to be sure to show up and remind them who are the tops dogs in the Eastern Conference.
And please don't give Spike a reason to jaw too much.
This game marks the end of a seven-game road trip for Chicago.
What better way to end a road trip than against a veteran team with some of the most intense fans in the world?
Chicago has a chance to make a statement in this game: Show the Celtics that their time has passed.
Protecting your home court is important. Not only do you want to win for the fans, but there is a sense of pride involved.
This game would prove to be even more interesting if there ends up being any substance to the Dwight Howard trade rumors.
The third meeting between these two teams, and the first one in Chicago.
Much like the last slide, Chicago needs to protect their home court and not give up a game to Miami.
Since the last match up between these two teams in one of the last games of the season (and both team will probably be resting their starters), this game will really show how serious the Bulls are, especially if they lost both games in Miami.
A late season trip to go play Kevin Durant and crew will not only be an extremely fun watch, but it may also be a finals preview (or a preview of a few finals in the future).
This will also be one of the last true tests these teams will have during the regular season.