CHICAGO -- For the first time in years, the Chicago Bulls' schedule is littered with marquee games that have national appeal. The full national television schedule will be released at a later date, but it's fair to say that the Bulls have ascended back to one of the NBA's featured franchises.
Let's take a look a few of the most anticipated games on the 2010-11 schedule which was released on Tuesday:
Oct. 27 at Oklahoma City Thunder: The Bulls' first game pits two of the NBA's youngest stars against each other in Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant. This also marks Tom Thibodeau's first regular season game as an NBA head coach as well as prized free-agent acquisition Carlos Boozer's first contest with the Bulls. It will be interesting to see just how fast Rose and Co. will be able to jell against one of the Western Conference's top teams in the Thunder.
Nov. 5 at Boston Celtics: Everyone remembers the great Bulls-Celtics playoff series in 2009, but this Boston team is much more dangerous, and even older with the additions of Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal. Rose and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo are widely considered to be the top two point guards in the East, so there is certainly plenty of star power to go around in this game.
Nov. 13 vs. Washington Wizards: Former Bull Kirk Hinrich makes his return to the United Center and figures to be warmly received by the home fans. This also marks Rose's first game against John Wall, a rivalry that is expected to get much bigger over time.
Nov. 23 at Los Angeles Lakers: After playing the Lakers last season in Los Angeles, Bulls center Joakim Noah said it felt like his was a JV team playing against the varsity. After all the moves the organization made over the summer, it's doubtful he will feel quite the same way this time around.
Dec. 18 vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Vinny Del Negro makes his return to the United Center for the first time since being fired last May. How will he be greeted by the fans? But that will definitely be one of the most entertaining pre-game media sessions of the season as Del Negro will certainly be asked to recount what went wrong during his tenure with the Bulls and why his relationship with John Paxson and Gar Forman went south so quickly.
Dec. 25 at New York Knicks: Christmas day at Madison Square Garden. It's a dream scenario for Noah, who was born in the city. And it should also serve as a national showcase for Rose, who should be able to carve up the Knicks' frail defense once again.
Jan. 15 vs. Miami Heat: Every Bulls player, and fan, already has this game circled on their calendar. It's the first time LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will play at the United Center. The boo birds will be out in full force for this one as fans let James, Wade and Bosh have it for not choosing to come to the Bulls.
Feb. 9: at Utah Jazz: The Bulls should feel right at home playing in Salt Lake City considering they have almost a quarter of the Jazz's roster from last season in Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.
March 6 at Miami: The Bulls only trip to Miami comes at the end of a tough four game road trip which includes stops in Washington, Atlanta and Orlando.