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LeBron James, Wade want to ring in new year, not old one

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Updated: December 1, 2013 7:31AM



The Heat will receive its NBA championship rings in a ceremony right before the season opener Tuesday against the Bulls. It’s not exactly what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had in mind.

“It could be a distraction,” Wade said. “I wish we would have done it the night ­before.”

James and Wade spent a lot of the preseason stressing that last season was in the past. Now they’ll be reliving it right before the new season begins.

“It can be an awkward night,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You’re ready to move on, and you have to go back and celebrate it. We know about the emotions that our guys will feel. We don’t want to disregard it, disrespect it. We had to go through a lot to be able to share that moment.”

“After we get our rings, that is last year, and we go from there,” James said. “It’s hard. I’m going to see some of it. I won’t take it for granted. We did some special things last year.”

It’s no secret that the Bulls and Heat have an intense rivalry. That could be why the Heat stars are worried about making the quick pivot from ring ceremony to rivalry fueled regular-season basketball. Especially against Derrick Rose, who’s likely to be especially amped up for his first real NBA game in 18 months.

“Opening night is always exciting for each team,” Wade said. “It’ll be a great challenge to open up against the Bulls, who are hungry to prove themselves this year. It’s a great story line with D-Rose back and two teams that don’t like each other.”

The Bulls ended the Heat’s 27-game winning streak last season. The Heat easily handled the Rose-less Bulls in the playoffs, holding them to 65 points in Game 4, a playoff-record low for the franchise.

“They’re back-to-back champions, so we know they’re going to come to play,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’re going to have to beat them; they’re not going to beat themselves. As long as Pat Riley has been there, and he’s been there a long time, they’ve always been a great defensive team.”

Email: mobrien@suntimes.com

Twitter: @michaelsobrien



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