You always knew it would come to this. LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, all, side-by side on the same hardwood, hustling, striving, competing for that ever elusive NBA chip.
Now fast-forward some ten months, “The Decision” and a career-making, MVP season since the dawn and here we are….just as we all predicted we would be. When the Chicago Bulls play host to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night, it will be a culmination of a whirlwind summer and recruiting period during which arguably the game’s three hottest commodities almost became one.
“It was two mornings where I woke up thinking I would be a Chicago Bull,” said Wade, a native Chicagoan who grew up idolizing Michael Jordan and now serves as one of the primary pitchmen for his worldwide Jordan Brand.
“It was flattering, not to mention a great presentation” Wade of the Bulls sales pitch. “I grew up with dreams of becoming an NBA player with the Chicago Bulls.”
And while not personally affected in that same way, James, nonetheless, grew to have similar sentiments. “There were mornings when I woke up feeling I’d be a Bull too,” added James. “It was great meeting with that team and that franchise knowing their history.”
But come Sunday, that’s exactly what it all will become—ancient history. Though the Bulls won all three matchups between the two during the regular season, the Heat enter the series as the favorite after having dispatched the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics in just five games.
“Us against the world, that’s the way we’re going to go and look at it,” said Rose, fresh off accepting his award as the league’s youngest ever MVP winner just last week. “If anything take it for what it is.”
But with things coming as close as they did to be entirely different, one wonders if the 22-year-old Rose ever takes the time to reflect on what might have been.
“I really don’t know,” Rose says about how different things may have changed if the three had become teammates. “If anything, this year has been great. I think with the guys that I have, man, I take my hat off to the management and the ownership of this team. Where they picked a bunch of guys that just want to win, and it’s helping everyone on the team where they’re good guys, first off.”—Glenn Minnis