The NBA, just like all professional sports leagues, is made better by rivalries. Games between competitive teams is one thing, it’s another when two good teams don’t like each other. The Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers both figure to be good teams in this year’s Eastern Conference and there’s a solid chance they could do battle in the playoffs. So when Derrick Rose was asked about the Bulls’ rivalry with the Pacers, his response probably surprised a few people:
“People say that it’s a rivalry but I don’t really see it. I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team. That one was more like a rivalry, but this team is a great team. They’ve already proven themselves last year by making it to the Eastern Conference finals.”
So while Rose didn’t take a big shot at the Pacers, he did kind of slap them in the face. Later in the interview he also agreed the Miami Heat are the Bulls’ biggest rival.
I don’t think there’s any denying that Bulls/Heat is the biggest rivalry in the Eastern Conference this season. But if you’re the Pacers and you hear these comments, they can’t sit well. I’m sure this will motivate them to make Bulls/Pacers a rivalry once again.
But when you get right down to it, rivalry is just a term. It won’t change the intensity in which the Bulls play against the Pacers if they think of it as a rivalry game or not. Chicago is going to go all out to try and beat Indiana and vice-versa. But you never know, depending on the outcome of the 2013-14 season, it could become a great rivalry in the near future.