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Wade, Bosh set to face Bulls they spurned

CHICAGO -- For the first time since being recruited to play for the Chicago Bulls this past summer, Miami Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will play at the United Center Saturday night.

Both men had a chance to sign with the Bulls, but opted to join LeBron James on the Heat. While it's clear that the All-Stars are happy with their choice, it's also apparent Chicago was high on their wish list.

"It was a great experience," Wade said after Saturday morning's shootaround. "I had great meetings with the Bulls. Of course, I decided to go back to the team that drafted me in the beginning. And was able to be a part of something special. But Chicago was always a top choice for me. If I was ever to not be in a Heat uniform, Chicago was always a top choice. It's just something that didn't happen."

When asked specifically if Chicago was his second choice, Wade couldn't help but laugh.

"Is that going to save some boos tonight?" he said. "I don't think it really matters."

Bosh also acknowledged that his meetings with the Bulls went well.

"It was good," he said. "Just like any other team, very impressive, with the coaching staff and the management. They've really been pursuing winning so that's always attractive when you're looking at going somewhere."

The Bulls' main pitch centered on one focal point, according to Bosh.

"Winning," he said. "And the Bulls. And the Bulls win. That's the main point. That's all I really wanted to hear. I really wasn't too interested in everything else, it was just about winning and that's it."

Both men were very complimentary of the Bulls' future outlook.

"They're not that far [away]," Wade said. "They're a very good team. They, just like the other teams, the Bostons, us, have had injuries. They dealt with injuries well with not having [Joakim] Noah. Just like I felt like we dealt with not having Udonis [Haslem]. And not having Mike [Miller] for a while, pretty well. Same as Boston. So this is a good team. This is a playoff team. They're number one in defense for a reason, because they've bought into the system. We're 1,2,3 in the league, us three, [Boston, Miami, Chicago]. I think with Orlando being right there, this is going to be a battle all year. It can fluctuate.

“The Bulls are there. They may not be [on] the headlines of ESPN every night, but they have exactly what you need to be a championship contender team. Two great star players in [Carlos] Boozer, and of course, [Derrick] Rose, who has emerged to be what everyone thought he could be. Maybe even quicker than people expected."

Wade isn't sure exactly how he and the rest of his teammates will be received during tonight's game, but he doesn't expect it to be much different than the harsh reception the Heat have received throughout the NBA this year.

"I'm over anticipation," Wade said. "I really don't know. We've been on the road a lot this year. [Wherever] we go, they're not cheering for us. So I expect it to be the same way. These Chicago fans coming out are supporting their team, as well they should. Chicago's got some of the best fans. And I'm sure they'll be in here tonight to really support their team even more because of what the Miami Heat attraction [is], positive or negative ... it will be the same."

James is "doubtful" tonight according to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.