Wednesday , Oct , 03 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Even In 2005, Chris Bosh Better Leader For Toronto Raptors Than Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, & Damon Stoudamire.

Three years later, the Raptors have developed into a strong Eastern Conference team. Bosh is a legit All-Star and was even considered an MVP candidate for his fine performance last year.

With the 2007-08 season approaching, I thought readers might want to take a look back and reminisce on the words of a young Bosh. This article appears courtesy of Basketball Ballerz Magazine. And thanks to my former editor for letting me use it …

A few years ago, right after the Toronto Raptors traded Vince Carter, and before he had blown-up into a star, I conducted a feature interview with Chris Bosh. We talked for twenty minutes and I was struck by Bosh’s maturity, confidence, and desire to lead. I had a feeling he was on the verge of big things. No matter how bleak it looked up in .

Three years later, the Raptors have developed into a strong Eastern Conference team. Bosh is a legit All-Star and was even considered an MVP candidate for his fine performance last year.

With the 2007-08 season approaching, I thought readers might want to take a look back and reminisce on the words of a young Bosh. This article appears courtesy of Basketball Ballerz Magazine. And thanks to my former editor for letting me use it.

Bosh Below The Radar/March 2005.

By Oly Sandor

Last December, the Vince Carter trade had Toronto buzzing. The cameras, tape recorders and mikes spent days interrogating the Raptors’ head office personnel, rookie coach Sam Mitchell and several frontline players. They all had something to say about the VC deal.

Chris Bosh, on the other hand, didn’t have anything to say. The message was clear: the Toronto Raptors were now his team.

A few months later, Bosh is on the telephone from his Milwaukee hotel room. He still doesn’t have much to say. "I’m a simple dude playing in the NBA," mumbles the second year pro. "I’m a regular guy. That’s all." The forward is being modest. Since the Carter trade, he’s played like an All-Star. Nobody should be surprised because Bosh has never been simple or regular.

It began in the working class neighborhood of South Dallas. The area was all inner city, mostly Black and Hispanic. As a youngster, Bosh excelled at math and basketball. Hours were spent breaking down both algebraic formulae in the classroom, and defenses in the gymnasium.

By his senior year, a buzz started to come from Lincoln High School. Every college sent recruiters to the modest school on Oakland Avenue, hoping to catch a glimpse of the "big" that resembled Kevin Garnett. They saw the numbers: 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks per game. Most importantly, his team won the Texas championship and Bosh captured the state’s "Mr. Basketball" title.

The hype kept growing. At the McDonald’s High School All American game, Bosh impressed scouts with his long body and hit for 14 points. He also held it down on the international stage by leading the to a gold medal in the Global Games. In the finals, against , Bosh outplayed New Jersey‘s Nenad Krstic.

The NCAA was waiting for him. Bosh went to Georgia Tech and the expectations were huge. He didn’t disappoint. The young forward dominated the competitive ACC Conference and showed that he belonged at the next level. Bosh himself, however, was a little more cautious about the NBA.

"Only about mid way through year one did I know (about the draft). People kept talking about it. And it grew bigger and bigger as the year went on. I just put it to the back of my head. I never really changed my game trying to impress the scouts or anything. I just kept playing my game and word of mouth got better and better."

That word of mouth led to David Stern calling his name in the 2003 draft. First round. Fourth overall. The Toronto Raptors had selected Bosh, after just one season at Georgia Tech, to come up north and patrol the paint. The shy kid from Texas thought he had it made. With Vince Carter and Antonio Davis, the Raptors were looking to build a winner, but it hasn’t worked out. The Toronto Raptors and Chris Bosh are still looking for that "happily ever after."

Bosh’s first season was full of changes. Before the Raptors’2003-2004 training camp, Antonio Davis went public with his trade demands. "This is a business. No matter what happens," explains Bosh. "Some guys have to be happy. And I learned that real early." In December, Davis got dealt to Chicago and then injuries set in. Toronto had to use 23 different players just to finish the season and ended up missing the playoffs.

Things were changing off the court too. Throughout the 2003-2004 season, there were rumors that the Raptors were going to clean house. On April Fools day, Toronto fired GM Glen Gruwnwald. Bosh’s rookie year got even crazier. Ownership spent the next two weeks trying to buy out coach Kevin O’Neill. They were unable to reach a financial settlement and O’Neill was let go after being on the job for only ten months.

Even this adversity couldn’t stop Bosh from having an extraordinary first season in the NBA. The numbers were impressive: 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. After the Davis trade, he stepped up and anchored the Raptors’ frontcourt. The league took notice, electing the forward to the All-Rookie First Team. Other first year ballers may have gotten more publicity, but that didn’t bother Bosh. "I stay to myself. I just stayed to myself then, man," recalls the star.

His best play was off the court. Right after being drafted, Bosh got involved in the Toronto community by creating a charity for kids. The Chris Bosh Foundation encourages children to pursue academic excellence. It offers after school tutoring and a book club. This is rare. Most NBA players would rather do three-to-five years hard time with the New Orleans Hornets or Atlanta Hawks than establish roots up in .

However, Bosh has personal reasons for giving back and helping out children.

"This is what I do. I’m a product of the system. So, I just roll with it. I believe firmly in helping kids because you know at one point in time somebody helped me. So I just go with that. I went to all the free summer camps, free basketball camps. That just motivates me to help other kids."

His second season in Toronto has been challenging. Alvin Williams’ knee injury prevented him from playing a single game. Rafer Alston couldn’t control his temper or shot selection. New GM Rob Babcock and rookie coach Sam Mitchell seemed out of sync. And then there’s the Carter saga. For 20 games, the guard pulled in "max" paychecks, while giving the Raptors less than "max" effort. The club eventually pawned "VC" off to the Nets for a package of players and draft picks. Bottom line: there won’t be any post season for the Raptors.

Once again, Bosh was a positive. After the Carter trade, he recorded nine straight double doubles and looked like an All-Star at the "4" spot.  In March, the twenty year old talked to reporters about the losing. "I have nothing to be ashamed about with my game or the organization," he says.

The "T-dot" has grown on him. The forward loves Toronto‘s multiculturalism, restaurants and nightlife. "It’s different. But a good different," he laughs. That’s also the perfect way to describe Chris Bosh. In a city that’s dealt with the likes of Isiah Thomas, Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, Chris Bosh isn’t simple or regular. He’s a good different.

How do you think Bosh and the Raptors will do next year? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts. Come back next week for HoopsVibe The Blog’s season previews.

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