We may have finally achieved something in the NBA that has not happened since the 1980′s – conference equality. Even though all eight Western Conference playoff teams totaled at least 50 wins last season, each conference has about the same number of good and elite teams, while either conference could just as likely win the NBA Championship. With LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all on the same team in Miami, and Carlos Boozer is in Chicago with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the East has four elite teams in the Magic, Celtics, Heat and Bulls. In the West, Los Angeles is obviously king, but only Dallas and Oklahoma City look like definite title contenders. Amar’e Stoudemire’s arrival in New York and the solid rosters in Atlanta and Milwaukee gives the conference a few more very respectable teams in a similar vein as Portland, Denver, Utah, Houston and San Antonio. And don’t overlook the Nets, who may land Carmelo Anthony, and the young, emerging rosters in Washington and Philadelphia. New Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer joined Waddle and Silvy on ESPN Radio Chicago to discuss playing with Derrick Rose, speculation regarding Carmelo Anthony’s next destination, the importance of Joakim Noah and trash talking with the Miami Heat.
On playing with Derrick Rose:
“Oh, I’m excited. We got a new coach in town with Tom Thibodeau. We got a bunch of talent and I’m excited to be in Chicago in a Bulls uniform. Derrick Rose obviously is one of the best point guards in the game. He did a great job in Istanbul with the world team and I’m looking forward to playing with him… I’m sure D-Rose going over there, he had the same experience playing against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, different guys throughout the course of being together. He probably got a lot of confidence, got a chance to compete and see how good he really is. He’ll come back with a new level of confidence and a new level of self assurance. He’ll be that much better.”
On if the Bulls should try to land Carmelo Anthony:
“I’m going to tell you this, there was a lot of speculation what may or may not happen. You can’t be excited about it until it happens. You can’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. If Carmelo stays in Denver, they’re getting one heck of a ball player. If we were able to land him, if another team was able to land him, they’d be getting one heck of a ball player. We’re just going to have to wait back and see what happens. I think it’s one of those scenarios where it’s out of everybody’s hands except for the Nuggets and obviously they probably want to keep him more than anything else. But if he does get moved, it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up. Carmelo Anthony is unbelievable and hard to stop offensively. We played him in the playoffs last year. Obviously we beat them in the series when I was in Utah. We beat them 4-2. But the two games that they won, he singled handedly won the games by himself.”
On trash talking withe the Miami Heat:
“We definitely trash talk a little bit, but we’re excited. That’s what makes the game so good. I’m friends with most of the guys in the NBA and you want to have bragging rights, especially me because I live in Miami in the off-season. So when I go down there, I want to be able to say we kicked their butts. This year, it’s going to be different. They’re going to want to say they kicked our butts. Those games are going to be lively and exciting… At the end of the day, we know that the Lakers are holding the championship trophy. Championship is going to go through LA. But as a competitor, you want to play against who is supposed to be the best team and you guys, not necessarily you guys, but people are dubbing the Miami Heat as the next best team to the Lakers. As a team that wants to through the best, to be a champion, we look forward to playing the Miami Heat and we look forward to playing the Lakers and Celtics and every other team that’s supposed to be better than us.
And on the importance of Joakim Noah to the Bulls:
“I don’t want to see my role change. I want Joakim Noah to stay. I don’t want to see Joakim Noah in any other uniform but a Bull uniform and I’m going to leave it at that… Jo loves being a Chicago Bull, so he’ll be excited at camp. I’ve known Jo for three or four months now and his excitement to play in this city and play in a Bulls uniform is not matched by anybody else.”