While hoops fans would be remiss to wonder why Cleveland, Chicago and Miami would all form such a unique triangle of bitterness, hatred and grudgingly earned respect, one must look deeper to see how all three teams are connected and so intertwined.
With Chicago and Miami being perennial playoff contenders and Cleveland—before the return of James—being an annual lottery participant, the Bulls, Cavs and Heat are all expected to be heavyweight contenders in the suddenly competitive East, thanks to LeBron’s U-Turn back to Cleveland.
With his now-heroic return back to Ohio, James single-handily tilted the power in the East to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Couple that with the pending trade for Minnesota Timberwolves power forward, Kevin Love and the Cavs are the team to beat in the East—although Chicago and Miami will be sure to have a thing or two to say about that.
Bulls-Heat: One the most physical and heated grudge matches in the NBA today, there is no love lost between the Heat and Bulls, as they have had some battles. While Chicago had a 9-6 mark against the Heat since 2011 in the regular season, Miami has had Chicago’s number where it counts the most—in the playoffs in going 8-2 and eliminating the Bulls 4-1 in the 2011 and 2013 playoffs. Chicago have had their moments against the “Big Three” in snapping their 27-game win streak and Nazr Mohammed’s memorable shove of James.
Before deciding to re-sign with the Heat, Dwayne Wade was rumored to be pulling a LeBron in deciding to home and play for the Bulls, alongside Rose.
Heat-Cavs: Call this the LeBron James Cup, as both teams will forever be linked to his legacy, when he hangs it up. After infamous deciding to take his talents to the the Heat in 2010, James would win two NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP’s and two more NBA MVP’s before making the now historical announcement, “I’m coming home”, that would forever be remembered as the biggest day in modern-day sports history.
In his decision, now forever known in Cleveland sports lexicon as “The Essay” to SI.com, James emphasized his connection to Northeast Ohio and really nailed it in the minds of die-hards when stated that nothing is given, everything is earned. It was a moment that literally stopped office productivity nationwide, blew up social media and re-ignited a region’s love for it’s long-lost son, now a man, who decided to return home and accept the challenge of winning Cleveland’s first sports title since 1964.
Thanks to James, the Cavs have now ironically morphed into the “Miami Heat 2.0” in forming their own big three of James, Kyrie Irving and Love. In addition, they also have a little South Beach flavor in signing former Heat players in Mike Miller, James Jones and possibly Ray Allen, who is reportedly leaning towards coming to Cleveland, while the Heat may have lost James to Cleveland, they were able to find a replacement in Loul Deng, who also played for—you guessed it—the Bulls.
Cavs-Bulls: The Shot. Those two words are enough to elicit proverbial vile and anguish for the long-suffering and loyal Cleveland sports fans. Thanks to Michael Jordan’s memorable jumper over Craig Ehlo 25 years ago at the now demolished Richfield Coliseum, that shot would forever be remembered as the epitome of Cleveland’s sports’ tough luck.
While that embers of that fateful shot are forever embedded deep in the collective mind of Cavs fans, thanks to the return of Rose and James, the emergence of Irving and off-season pickups of Pau Gasol and Love, Cleveland and Chicago are set to revive the dormant Cavs-Bulls rivalries of yesteryear.
In the case of the Cavs-Bulls rivalry, you get two of the best young point guards in the game—when healthy—in Irving and Rose, which will be an exciting one-on-one matchup to watch, throw in Joakim Noah’s recent comments about James and past comments about Cleveland, and you have the makings of something good. Couple that in with the contrast in coaching styles of Tom Thibedeau’s defensive-minded, half-court physical approach and NBA newcomer David Blatt’s up-and-down Euro offensive-minded style, and Cleveland-Chicago could be fun to watch.
One other interesting sub-plot to throw into the Cleveland-Chicago tilt is that soon-to-be Cavalier in Love was heavily pursued by Chicago, to prevent him from going to the Cavs during their trade talks with Minnesota as they offered a trade package that reportedly consisted of Taj Gibson and rookie sharpshooter Doug McDermott.
With Love set to go to Cleveland—pending NBA approval on the 23th—Cleveland, Chicago and Miami all have a “Big Three” of their own in Irving-James-Love, Gasol-Noah-Rose and Wade-Bosh-Deng. The new-look Heat, Cavs and Bulls will create a lot of headaches for each other in the standings and when they play each other for conference supremacy for years to come.
For current news, sports, entertainment, politics and more please follow us at @TheInscriberMag and like us on Facebook: The Inscriber : Digital Magazine