After a lockout that delayed the beginning of the NBA regular season, professional basketball returns on Christmas Day.
And when the lights are on brightest, the Chicago Bulls will be featured on the season’s opening day against the Los Angeles Lakers, beginning what could be a championship season on Chicago’s west side.
Last year, Chicago-native Derrick Rose was named the youngest Most Valuable Player in NBA history, and led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals. With Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and most of last year’s roster back.
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year after last season, when the Bulls finished the regular season with the best record in the league (62-20).
The Bulls have added a familiar face to fans in Chicago this year. Richard “Rip” Hamilton, who was part of the championship teams in Detroit for years, signed as a free agent with the Bulls and will look to contribute as the shooting guard.
This season will have a few changes because of the lockout. The regular season has been shortened to 66 games, starting on Christmas and ending April 26, 2012.
Chicago begins the new season with a matinée game at Los Angeles that begins at 4:00 PM CT. The Bulls first four games are on the road this year, but they return to the United Center for their home opener on New Year’s Day against the Memphis Grizzlies.