Bulls, Knicks to Meet in Blockbuster Battle: ‘It’s Gonna Be a Dogfight’

Julius Randle, Zach LaVine

Getty Julius Randle and Zach LaVine facing off during a February game between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.

Two storied franchises, the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, are emerging this season as rebuilding success stories, and simultaneously, playoff threats for 2022.

And their upcoming matchup represents a highly-anticipated battle between two top Eastern Conference teams.

Chicago and New York are a combined 7-1 walking into Thursday’s game at the United Center, riding the play of their All-Stars, Julius Randle and Zach LaVine.

Both teams were among the most discussed this offseason, with the Bulls adding DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, and the Knicks bringing in a new backcourt of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.

So far, so good, for both clubs.

But they can’t both walk out of this matchup on top.

It’ll be a clash of the way-too-early-anointed titans, for the first of four times for the 2021-2022 season.

Recent history favors the New York Knicks, and former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who’ll also be bringing longtime United Center favorites, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, to the Windy City.

Rose: ‘It’s Great Man, Coming Back’

New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose spoke with the media ahead of the latest of his Windy City homecomings, one where his former teammate, Joakim Noah, will be honored.

A former league MVP with the Chicago Bulls, it’s all love (via the New York Post) between the guard and team that drafted him:

It’s great man, coming back. Me and Joakim’s relationship has always been pretty tight, pretty close. To see him get celebrated [Thursday], that’s huge. A lot of my friends, if I wasn’t their favorite player when we played. It was Joakim. For him, everything that he gave to this franchise, the way that he gave his all to the game, it means a lot.

Noah and Rose were also teammates on the Knicks, for that infamous 2016-2017 season where he likely now regrettably dubbed New York “a superteam” before they finished 31-51.

It’s just one of many ties between these two clubs, two of the more storied among the entire NBA.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau will walk into this matchup with hopes of improving his all-time record against the team that gave him his first head coaching position some years ago.

Per Elias Bureau, he’s gone 7-2 against the Bulls since the two sides parted ways back in 2015, as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and now the New York Knicks.

He was spotted the night before the game with a number of former Chicago players, including the to-be-honored Noah out celebrating the big fella:

But as many emotions, as there will be flying around the United Center on Thursday night, don’t doubt Tom Thibodeau and this New York Knicks team will forget for even a moment while they’re there.

Walker: ‘It’s Gonna Be A Dogfight’

This matchup between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks won’t be crowning the 2022 Eastern Conference champs, but whoever wins this game will certainly gain a reputation among the teams to beat.

Kemba Walker touched on the upcoming matchup (via New York Daily News) following practice earlier this week:

It’s unbelievable. Those guys are playing very, very well. It’s gonna be a dogfight, for sure.

Chicago and New York obviously share a storied past from the days of Michael Jordan’s teams of the 1990s.

But this is a different era, as Bondy notes in the aforementioned piece, with the Bulls and Knicks a long ways from being considered successful franchises:

Together, the Knicks and Bulls account for more losses than any other NBA franchises over the previous five seasons. They share one conference finals appearance since the ‘90s, and just one playoff series victory since 2015.

Perhaps this October 28 matchup signals the rekindling of two franchises, that when atop the rest of the league, represent the history of the NBA.

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