Wade facing his hometown _ with high stakes

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“They’ve got two great players in D-Wade and LeBron,” Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. “It should be a great series. We look forward to it. And it is going to be a tough series. We look forward to the challenge.”

By now, Wade’s Chicago story is well-known.

His childhood was stormy, replete with major financial problems, an oft-broken home and having to be raised for long stretches of time by his sister. He married his high school sweetheart from there, had two sons who have spent the majority of their lives there, then had to spend the better part of three years fighting in Chicago courts for a divorce and custody of the kids _ eventually getting what he wanted on both counts.

Despite it all, Chicago _ the city he scorned during last summer’s free-agent bonanza _ remains dear to Wade. His “Wade’s World” foundation has remained active there, he spends time there each offseason and he remains, without question, the loudest Chicago Bears fan in the Heat locker room.

The ties will be pushed aside for the next few days.

“I won’t even have a lot of family there,” Wade said. “Just like on the road, you have a select few. I won’t keep it busy. I’ll keep it strictly about business, strictly about what we need to do, and I’ll have a lot of time in the summer to be in my house.”

He isn’t the only Chicago native heading home. Juwan Howard _ in the conference-final round for the first time, at 38 years old _ is from the city as well.

Like Wade, he says there’s no time for nostalgia.

“We’re cut from the same cloth,” Howard said. “We’re both very competitive individuals.”

There’s no shortage of ill-will moments between the franchises since Wade arrived in Miami, though most of the principal players in those incidents won’t be part of this series.

In 2005, Wade was thrown to the hardwood by former Bulls forward Andres Nocioni. A year later, Udonis Haslem was fighting with three Bulls for a rebound, got knocked over and threw his mouthpiece in disgust _ getting ejected when it bounced toward referee Joey Crawford. The Bulls beat Miami by 42 points on the night the Heat got their 2006 championship rings, then swept them from that season’s playoffs as Wade limped around with injuries. And in 2008, Spoelstra angered some Bulls by calling time-out with 30.9 seconds left in an already-decided game so he could get Wade and two other Heat players off the floor.

None of those memories will be needed for inspiration now, Wade said.

The Bulls stand between him and the NBA finals. Nothing more, in his estimation, needs to be said.

“We’re two teams with great will,” Wade said. “We look forward to getting started.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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