Playoff fever at Chicago high schools

May 16, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The series with the Miami Heat has a definite Chicago flavor. Derrick Rose grew up in Chicago and attended Simeon High School. The Heat's Dwyane Wade grew up in the south suburbs and graduated from Richards High School in Oak Lawn.

Chicago basketball fans have a lot to cheer for because the city is well-represented on both teams in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bulls have Englewood native Derrick Rose. The Heat have Robbins' own Dwyane Wade. The two stars are making it hard for some local fans to root for one team.

"Every time Wade touches the ball we're for him," said Richards High School Athletic Director Ken Styler. "We want him to score and stay healthy. But, in the long run, we're still diehard Bulls fans."

At Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Dwyane Wade has a strong presence at the school where he graduated in 2000. A few years ago, the basketball court was renovated and renamed "D-Wade Court." Richards' athletic director says that's an example of how Wade maintains his ties with the area by giving back.

"He's really like our guardian angel," Styler said.

At Simeon High School, which is Derrick Rose's alma mater, the Englewood native helped the school win two state titles before he graduated in 2007. He was coached by Robert Smith, who says the Bulls-Heat matchup has renewed interest in the playoffs.

"Basketball here is back in a roar. Everybody is tuning in. everybody's watching the games all the time," said Smith.

Smith says the Heat have a great team, with Wade being part of the "Big Three" with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, but he says the Bulls have an asset in Rose, who is the youngest ever league MVP.

"It's great for both schools to have someone of their calibers playing on that level and just represent both schools to the best of their abilities, because both of them are great young men as well," said Smith.

Both Smith and Styler predict a tough series.

Styler says it could go all seven games.

Smith is confident the Bulls will win in six. He says, if that is the case, winning the NBA Finals is a sure thing.

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