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Pacers Send Message to Bulls and the Rest of the Basketball World: This Is a Rivalry and It's Time to Take Notice; D-Rose Indirectly Follows Suit

That's twice, Mr. Rose. Twice now that you've busted out of your docile shell to take aim at one particular team. And for those counting, that's two times more the overt emotion you've shown towards anyone else. If you recall, the first incident took place late last season. The Pacers won an overtime nailbiter at home; the competitive nature of the game was a more-than-apt foreshadowing of the direction these teams were headed. Derrick Rose took notice:

...It was the last regular-season meeting between the teams, but Rose wouldn't mind getting revenge."That's a team we could possibly see in the playoffs," he said. "I can't wait to play them again."

As documented by Tom and others, Rose's emotional instigator this time around centered on Indiana's celebration after getting a hard-fought, come-from-behind W in possibly the league's most hostile environment. Rose's insinuation? The Pacers celebrated too heartily. The real story? Indiana's a threat, and Rose knows it. The outcry of emotion only confirms it. You see, this wasn't about the celebration.Teams celebrate wins all of the time. Heck, Joakim Noah energetically celebrates any and every play that displays even a hint of team success.

But this wasn't just a celebration, it was a loss. Worse yet, it was a loss to "those guys." You know "those guys" who said they'd rather play the Bulls than anyone else in the playoffs. "Those guys" who warred against Rose's team in a physical five-game series, and who held a fourth-quarter lead in four of the five games. "Those guys" with the coach who tells anyone who will listen that his team can and will beat any opponent his Blue-and-Gold boys play.

Rose's emotional statements aren't going to suddenly convince the Pacers to become passive celebrators. No, no, what Rose's recent comments do is expose him as a player who's starting to get up for one team more than any other; a player who's starting to take certain games more personal than any other; a player who's subtly, but not-so-subtly announcing to the world that the NBA's got itself a new rivalry on its hands.

Rivalry re-visited March 5th 8:00 PM (EST) back at the United Center. Don't miss it.