CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls and their fans at United Center are a little late to the 2010-11 phenomenon of the Miami Heat. The LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh-fueled Insta-Team already has faced 27 of the other 29 teams at least once and has played 21 of them on their home courts. Some of the curiosity about the Heat is gone, replaced by simple awe and dread, along with the grind of facing Miami on the tail end of a back-to-back, in the midst of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch. Which is what Chicago, still missing center Joakim Noah, will do.
Still, the Bulls are determined to make things special Saturday night when Miami plays at United Center for the first time this season. Specifically, the team will be touting Derrick Rose, the young point guard and MVP candidate alongside whom James, Wade and Bosh opted not to play.
The Bulls will have red-and-white placards at every seat before the game urging fans to vote daily and often — the Chicago way — to put Rose in the Eastern Conference starting lineup for the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 20 in Los Angeles. If they’re successful, Rose would become the Bulls’ first All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1998 and likely would join James and Wade in the East lineup at tipoff. In the most recent balloting results, Rose (1,225,575 votes) had moved ahead of Boston’s Rajon Rondo (1,171,311) for second place among East guards; Wade was No. 1 with 1,499,768 votes. James held a big lead among East forwards (with Bosh a distant fifth).
The signs will remind fans that voting for the All-Star Game continues thorugh Monday in NBA arenas and through Jan. 23 online. They can vote for Rose — or anyone else their heart desires — at Bulls.com/votebulls or by texting Rose’s last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (MYNBA). Starters for the 60th All-Star Game will be announced on Jan. 27.
By the way, as late as Chicago is to Miami experience this season, San Antonio has that beat. The Spurs won’t face the Heat for the first time until March 4 at San Antonio. Ten days later, those two contenders wrap up their season series in Miami.