The Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are two of the teams primed to continue challenging the Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy. They've been the most consistent challengers of the Heat over the past three seasons with each team taking a shot at them in the Eastern Conference finals. When Derrick Rose went down with a knee injury in 2012, it left the door open for the Pacers to emerge as the top challenger to the Heat and they accepted it immediately.
However, Rose doesn't consider the Pacers to be a rival despite being in the same division. Even with the Pacers winning the Central division championship last season, Rose just doesn't see it between these two teams. That's nothing that Pacers point guard George Hill agrees with and he'd like to remind Rose that the Pacers are the reigning champs of their division and the squad the Bulls have to go through to regain that small honor. From HoopsWorld:
“I don't know how [Rose] can say we're not rivals yet because we've been just as successful as they have been. But all I know right now is we're the Central Division champions and for them, they have to come through us to get that. But if that's what he believes, then that's what he believes.”
It's tricky to figure out which one is correct and which one isn't because that has to be strictly a mental thing, right? I'm sure the Bulls and Pacers fans dislike the other team enough to consider this a bit of a rivalry. Hill certainly thinks it's a rivalry. But if Rose doesn't consider it to be one and can't be convinced otherwise at the moment, how do you say the Bulls and Pacers are each other's rivals?
Rose's comments on the situation were pretty clear. From ESPN Chicago:
"People say that it's a rivalry, but I don't really see it," Rose said before scoring 32 points in the team's 103-98 win against the Pacers. "I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team. That one was more like a rivalry, but this team is a great team. They've already proven themselves last year by making it to the Eastern Conference finals.
"If anything, by probably in a year or two, it could become a rival. But right now, people say it's a rival. ... I just don't see it right now."
I can see why Hill would take exception to this. Rose sees the Heat as the Eastern Conference and NBA champs (because they are) as the main rival to the Bulls. To get where he wants to get, they have to find a way to knock the Heat off of their perch. Also, he invoked the name of Darren Collison, the point guard Hill replaced as the starter in Indiana. When that change happened, the Pacers transformed into one of the top teams in the league and have had one of the best lineups in the NBA for the past two years (with Hill as the point guard too).
Rose isn't dismissive of the Pacers as a good team; he just doesn't see them as a rival. It should be fun to see them square off against each other four times in the regular season and see where the point guard matchup takes this series.