The Miami Heat coaching staff used handheld football pads to hit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as they drove down the lane during Monday’s practice.
The Heat expect a physical game against the Chicago Bulls in Tuesday’s season opener.
“We don’t like them, they don’t like us,” James said of the Bulls to ESPN. “It’s not unheard of. We all know how it is.”
The Bulls won’t be watching as the Heat raise their 2012-13 championship banner and get their rings before the game.
“That’s their ceremony, not ours,” Derrick Rose said. “If we were getting our rings there would be a little bit of a distraction, but for us we know that we got to stay focused, come together as a team, and really take their first hit because they’re definitely going to be on charge.”
The Bulls have been in this spot before. Chicago beat the Heat 108-66 on the night that Miami raised their 2006 championship banner.
Just two years ago, the Heat opened the season in Dallas after the lockout had ended and got their revenge on the Mavericks, who beat Miami in the 2011 Finals.
“We wanted to embarrass [the Mavericks] on their home floor,” Bosh said. “We wanted to defecate on their night and we know [the Bulls] want to do that to us. They want to spoil what we have going and we’re aware of that. We have to hit first.”
The Bulls are expected to challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference crown this season.
“We’re both trying to do something, trying to win [a championship],” Wade said. “You’re going to run into each other along the way and you’re going to dislike each other. They want to beat us as badly as we want to beat them.”