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Chicago’s dream backcourt finally becomes reality — in Cleveland

It was a frigid January day in the Windy City back in 2011 — the high temperature that afternoon was a bone-chilling 24 degrees — when the United Center heated up with a showdown between two of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Chicago.

The hometown Chicago Bulls were led by their homegrown star, Derrick Rose, then just 22 and en route to becoming the youngest league MVP in NBA history that season. The visiting Miami Heat — in the first season of its big three era — were led by Dwyane Wade, then 28 and already a Finals MVP winner, with LeBron James sitting out with a bum ankle.

ESPN: On that note, this looks like a team that can be a legitimate contender for several years, but the price will rise significantly next summer if the core is kept together. What’s your tolerance level for paying the luxury tax?

Fertitta: This is what was told to me by my experts that work here: If it’s going to take you to the Finals, then you should pay the luxury tax. And I totally agree. If you have to lose money to get to the Finals or win a championship, I think you do what you have to do because it’s going to come back to you.

Fertitta: Because I wanted them! [Laughs] It wasn’t like I was going to probably be the only person out there [interested in buying the franchise]. Maybe I was going to be able to do it quicker than anybody else, but the team would have sold for over $2.2 billion. It’s what the team was going to sell for — and I know that — or Les would have kept the team.

I think everyone uses certain guys as measuring sticks, whether you tell him or not, Wade added. Everyone has those, and you have those certain matchups and you’re like, ‘OK, let me see what I’m made of tonight.’

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