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Dwyane Wade says that the Bulls will suffer without Derrick Rose

Miami Heshooting guard Dwyane Wade is joined by sons Zaire Wade 10 left ZiWade 5 after Game 5 NBA finals

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade is joined by sons Zaire Wade, 10, left and Zion Wade, 5 after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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Updated: October 14, 2012 1:42PM

It’s easy to see Dwyane Wade as the enemy, especially since the Bulls-Heat rivalry has become so fierce in recent years, but he’s more friend than foe when signing books and answering questions in the South Side church his mother founded.

Wade was in town to promote his new book, A Father First: How my Life Became Bigger Than Basketball, but with the start of training camp only three weeks away, his team’s chances of repeating as NBA Champions weren’t far from his mind.

The Lakers’ acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash didn’t surprise him. “It’s the Lakers,” he said, smiling. “They always do something.”

The eight-time All-Star who was born on the South Side and grew up in Robbins also counts NBA Finals foe Oklahoma City among the NBA’s elite. He didn’t mention his hometown team. The Bulls are in a holding pattern while Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery. They could still be a factor in the playoffs if Rose makes a miraculous recovery.

More likely, the Bulls are a year away from again being championship contenders.

“They’ve always shown they’re a scrappy team and they’re going to fight and do as well as they can do,” Wade said. “But to take it to the next level D-Rose is going to have to be D-Rose and lead that team to be as good as they want to be. I know as players on the team, you feel like you can hold the fort but you need your leader, captain and best player.

“D-Rose is young. He can bounce back from it just like other guys have in the past. Whenever he’s on the court, they are one of the best teams in the league.”

Wade’s book recounts his long, bitter custody battle with his ex-wife that ended with him being awarded sole custody of sons Zaire and Zion. The book also chronicles his early years on as well as his mother’s recovery from drug addiction.

“When I went through this custody battle, it opened my eyes up because a lot of people, especially a lot of men came up to me with a lot of questions,” he said. “It gave them hope.”

Winning his second NBA title wasn’t easy and made him realize how daunting winning back-to-back titles must be. He said it puts Michael Jordan’s six titles in perspective.

“I had six years between my two championships,” he said. “There have only been a few teams in history that have won back-to-back let alone back-to-back-to-back. Those are special teams. You have to take it one game at a time, one week at a time and one month at a time because you never know if you’re going to be a champion until you win.”

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