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Bulls-Heat rivalry

The Bulls-Heat rivalry began once the Miami Heat became playoff contenders during the 1990s, a decade dominated by the Chicago Bulls. During that period, the Heat would be eliminated three times by the Bulls, who would go on to win the NBA championship

The rivalry has returned due to the return of the Bulls to the playoffs in the post-Michael Jordan era and the emergence of rising superstar Dwyane Wade. This rekindled rivalry has been very physical, involving rough plays and hard fouls between players, most notably the actions of former Heat player James Posey

History

The Beginning

This rivalry began once the Miami Heat, having played in the league only since 1988, became a playoff contender. Unfortunately, this occurred during the time Michael Jordan was leading the Bulls to championship three-peats.

The first playoff meeting between the teams occurred in the first round of the 1992 NBA Playoffs. The Bulls, led by Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant and coached by Phil Jackson, were the defending champions and had accumulated a 67-15 record, the Central Division title, and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat, with Glen Rice, Steve Smith, and Rony Seikaly, had just reached the NBA Playoffs for the first time in its young franchise history with the 8th seed. The Bulls would sweep the Heat in three straight games en route to their second consecutive NBA Championship.

The second time the two teams met, The Bulls, now with Jordan, Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoč, and Steve Kerr, had just compiled the best NBA regular season record of 72-10 and were hungry to regain the NBA title after a two-year drought. The Miami Heat, now coached by Pat Riley with Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Chris Gatling, and Walt Williams, managed to clinch the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 42-40 record. Once again, however, the Bulls proved to be too much for the Heat (or for anybody else that season, for that matter) and would eventually cap a historic season with their fourth NBA championship.

The Heat would take the following season to hone their plan of attack on the Bulls. Utilizing the same aggressive brute-like tactics he employed while coaching New York, Coach Riley conditioned a tough Miami team designed to break the Bulls. After dropping the first two regular season match-ups to Chicago (as-per-usual), Riley's plan started to take effect. The Heat crushed the Bulls in the latter two regular season match-ups. The Heat returned to the playoffs in high fashion with their first Atlantic Division title, revamped (with new additions Dan Majerle, P.J. Brown, Jamal Mashburn, and Voshon Lenard) and franchise-best record of (61-21 in the regular season and 2nd seed behind the 69-13 Bulls). Meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat's self-assured plan fell flat as they fell behind 0-3 to the Bulls before winning their first playoff game in the matchup in game four. The Bulls would win Game 5 and go on to defend their NBA title. One of the incidents of the series was when Scottie Pippen received an elbow on his head by Alonzo Mourning getting a large swollen bump.

The Post Jordan Era

The rivalry went into a dormant phase due to intervention by the Knicks (who eliminated the Heat in the first round of the 1998 NBA Playoffs) and the dismantling of the Bulls dynasty after the 1998 championship. The next time the two teams met was in the first round of the 2006 NBA Playoffs. The Miami Heat, a year removed from a trip to the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals, were led by former Laker and three-time champion center Shaquille O'Neal, emerging superstar shooting guard Dwyane Wade, and coach Pat Riley (who returned to coaching earlier in the season after a short hiatus). The Bulls, having returned to the postseason for the second consecutive year, consisted of Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Chris Duhon, and Luol Deng forming a team that relied on accurate perimeter offense and strong overall team defense. The Southeast Division-leading Heat were the second seed in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Central Division leading Detroit Pistons, while the Bulls were the seventh seed. The Heat were expected to put the Bulls away early, but the young Bulls held their own and won their first two home games—Games 3 and 4—after the Heat won the first two games at Miami. Notable in this series was a flagrant foul committed by defensive specialist James Posey on Hinrich during a fast break. Posey was immediately ejected due to the severity of the foul. After a little private squabble among Heat players, the Heat regrouped and won the next two games and, eventually, won their first NBA championship.

At the start of the 2006-2007 season, the Heat hosted the Bulls in the Heat season opener. The Bulls, now retooled with new players (the most notable being former Piston Ben Wallace), blew out the Heat, giving the Heat the worst season-opening loss of a defending NBA champion.

Throughout the season, the incident involving Posey did not remain an isolated incident. Throughout the season, in games between the Heat and the Bulls, Posey was involved in a few hard fouls and rough plays against various Bulls players. Bulls fans did not forget this, often expressing their dislike of his plays.

The two teams met again in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs. The Bulls finished the season on a strong note, but lost their last regular season game against the New Jersey Nets which, along with a Cleveland Cavaliers win over the Milwaukee Bucks, cost the Bulls the second seed, dropping them to the fifth seed. (The Detroit Pistons already clinched both the Central Division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference.) The defending champion Miami Heat, ravaged with injuries to key players throughout the season, managed to catch up in the standings and clinch the Southeast Division title and the fourth seed.

The Bulls, having been eliminated in the first round for two consecutive years, felt they were ready to advance with the experience they earned from the previous years. They won the first two games at Chicago, thanks to a breakout performance by Luol Deng. In Game 2, P.J. Brown bumped James Posey, much to the delight of the Chicago fans, and referee Steve Javie called Brown for a flagrant foul because, according to Javie, Posey was bumped in the air. The league rescinded it after viewing the film. Near the end of the game, the Chicago fans got into the rivalry by chanting, "Posey sucks!"—similar to the Red Sox fans' chant of "Yankees Suck!" when the New York Yankees play at Boston. The series shifted to Miami for Games 3 and 4, where the Heat manage to gain the lead at the half of each game. The Bulls, however, had big third quarters in both games, which earned them the lead and, eventually, the win in both games. The Miami Heat become the first defending NBA championship to get swept in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in fifty years since the Syracuse Nationals swept the Philadelphia Warriors in the first round of the 1957 playoffs.

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat (April 5, 2006 Game @ American Airlines Arena)

Chicago's Andres Nocioni got called for a flagrant foul on Dwyane Wade and pushed him, and the Heat's Udonis Haslem got ejected after coming to Wade's defense on April 5, 2006.

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat (2006 NBA Playoff First Round, Game 3)

In Game 3 of the Bulls-Heat first round match, Kirk Hinrich was moving down the court when James Posey hit Hinrich with a hard shoulder block knocking Hinrich down to the floor, was called for a Flagrant-2 Foul, and was ejected from the game. Posey was later suspended from the 2nd game of the series.

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat (2006-2007 NBA Season Opener)

In the Season Opener of the 2006-2007 NBA Season. James Posey was involved in another incident with Bulls rookie Tyrus Thomas, who was going for the rebound, was hit in the face by Posey which led to Thomas having his nose broken and missing a few games, and having to wear a protective mask for a few games when he returned..

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat (December 27, 2006 Game @ the United Center)

In this game, Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade was injured in the right wrist with a sprain when coming off the screen and got tangled up with Kirk Hinrich. After the game Pat Riley accused Hinrich of being a "dirty player."
"Hinrich pulled his hand. Hinrich grabbed his hand, which he does all of the time...That's what he does anytime Dwyane comes off screens. They always either grab his shirt or hand. It's a little bit of a tactic down below the body. The officials can't see it. So he had Dwyane's hand and tried to pull it out of there."
Also in his third incident with the Bulls, James Posey was ejected from the game when he flagrantly fouled Luol Deng, who was going for a lay-up when he was clotheslined by Posey in midair. Posey was suspended for one game.After hitting the floor Deng appeared to be hurt grabbing his right wrist, which had surgery a year before. Ben Gordon didn't appreciate Riley's comments after the game, especially since Heat forward James Posey was ejected for taking down Luol Deng from behind in the fourth quarter.
"I heard him saying something about Kirk. Kirk didn't do anything dirty...he was just playing aggressive defense. Posey's was way more blatant. I don't appreciate him taking shots at our guys."

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (2007 NBA Playoff First Round, Game 2)

In Game 2, P.J. Brown bumped James Posey and was given a flagrant foul for it. The league rescinded it after viewing film, and referee Steve Javie said he called the flagrant foul because Posey was bumped in the air. Late in the game, Posey fouled Tyrus Thomas away from the ball on a play that looked very similar to opening night when Posey smashed Thomas' nose. No flagrant was retroactively given on this play.

Head to head

The results in brackets concern the play-off games.
Season at Chicago Bulls
Bulls-Heat
at Miami Heat
Heat-Bulls
Total
Bulls-Heat
1988-89 111-88 108-112 2-0
1989-90 119-105, 111-103 107-114, 95-107 4-0
1990-91 112-103, 108-87 106-117, 101-111 4-0
1991-92 108-99, 123-81
(113-94, 120-90)
106-108, 100-116
(114-119)
4-0
(3-0)
1992-93 86-82, 119-92 100-105, 97-95 3-1
1993-94 71-95, 101-109 99-104, 90-96 2-2
1994-95 133-88, 111-85 91-83, 93-98 3-1
1995-96 102-80, 100-92
(102-85, 106-75)
113-104, 92-110
(91-112)
3-1
(3-0)
1996-97 103-71, 80-83
(84-77, 75-68, 100-87)
100-106, 102-92
(74-98, 87-80)
2-2
(4-1)
1997-98 90-80, 106-91 99-72 2-1
1998-99 49-82 90-74, 86-101 1-2
1999-00 87-105, 83-76 85-92, 105-80 2-2
2000-01 89-82, 90-97 90-81, 109-81 1-3
2001-02 78-72, 87-92 92-79, 102-80 1-3
2002-03 82-74 102-101, 100-90 1-2
2003-04 83-90, 83-97 102-95, 105-96 0-4
2004-05 81-105, 105-101 108-97, 104-86 1-3
2005-06 97-100, 84-85
(109-90, 93-87, 96-113)
93-117
(111-106, 115-108, 92-78)
1-2
(2-4)
2006-07 109-103, 100-97
(96-91, 107-89)
66-108, 103-70
(96-104, 79-92)
3-1
(4-0)
2007-08 126-96, 99-96 1-0

Statistics

Chicago Bulls Miami Heat
Total wins 57 35
At Chicago Bulls 35 13
At Miami Heat 22 22
Regular season wins 41 30
At Chicago Bulls 24 12
At Miami Heat 17 18
Play off wins 16 5
At Chicago Bulls 11 1
At Miami Heat 5 4

References

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