Chris Bosh was a member of the National Honor Society before he was a member of the National Basketball Association. He knew how to use a slide rule before he perfected his slide-step. And Chris was a pro in the classroom long before he began schooling pro opponents. In short, he was always one of those kids who could do anything he set his mind to, or be anything he wanted to be. With the Miami Heat, Chris put the championship stamp on an already impressive career, and left fans wondering just how much he might accomplish as the cornerstone of the league’s newest dynasty. This is his story…

GROWING UP

Christopher Wesson Bosh was born on March 2, 1984 in Dallas, Texas. (Click here for today's sports birthdays.) His parents, Freida and Noel, welcomed another son, Joel, two years later. Freida was a computer-savvy systems analyst, while Noel was a plumbing engineer who helped design apartment and office buildings. Both parents were good at the details and saw the big picture, too. This rubbed off on Chris, who was active and curious as a pre-schooler.

What Freida and Noel found intriguing was that these two qualities seemed to be connected—Chris always wanted to know how to do things. What was the fastest way to run? The best way to throw? He was deeply interested in the different things he could make his body do. The Boshes enrolled him in karate and gymnastics classes, and he excelled in both. A Nerf hoop fostered his love of basketball.

Chris and Joel were big for their ages. (Freida and Noel both stood taller than six feet.) The boys played Nerf so hard that they soon destroyed the door to their room. Noel decided it was time for the boys to take it outside. He put up a backyard hoop, and the rest was history.

Chris’s first brush with basketball fame came in the lobby of a Dallas hotel when he was seven or eight. He spotted one of his favorite players, John Salley of the Detroit Pistons. Salley spent some time talking to Chris and gave him an autograph. Over the years, the youngster became a big fan of the Detroit forward and followed his long career. He especially appreciated how comfortable Salley seemed off the court and how intelligent he was when he appeared on TV.

Chris was no slouch in the brains department himself. He was a lightning-fast learner, and he also had a knack for analyzing what made things work. One of the top students in his elementary school, he earned praise from teachers and respect from his fellow students. It probably didn’t hurt that Chris was also lanky, strong, and coordinated, which made him the best baller in his class. He had no trouble developing his hoops skills at the same time he was growing intellectually. And if a bad test score or grade came home, Freida and Noel let him know that playing basketball was a privilege, no matter how good he was becoming.

The Boshes expected Chris would be tall, but he wanted to know just how tall. With his sights set on earning a college scholarship, he wanted to know if he should be thinking guard, forward or center. Several doctors evaluated him and determined that he would stop growing at around 6-6. In turn, he began to think about the skills needed by a swingman. Still, the news was a little disappointing. His favorite player was Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had always wanted to be a power forward like KG.

Basketball became more of a reality when Chris reached the 6-7 mark—as a sophomore at Lincoln High School. He continued to sprout, up to 6-10, but his feet stopped growing around size 13. This allowed him to retain the quickness he had developed as a smaller player. Chris played a lot on the varsity as a freshman, and he became a starter—and the team’s best player—when Leonard Bishop was hired to coach Lincoln in his sophomore year. Bishop had first seen Chris the year before and was awestruck.

Meanwhile, Chris contimued to be an excellent student, scoring well enough on standardized tests to become a member of the National Honor Society. He excelled where science and math met the creative arts, learning how to build websites and the basics of graphic design. In fact, before he settled on pursuing a basketball career, Chris dreamed of being a graphic artist.

Chris blossomed under Bishop, who handed his players a sheet of paper each week called "Study the Game," which targeted areas in which they could improve. The sophomore was in heaven. He created a binder for his Study the Game sheets and reviewed them constantly.

Along with fellow second-year star Bryan Hopkins, Chris made Lincoln the most dangerous up-and-coming team in Dallas. The soph was starting to use the moves he picked up from watching Garnett on TV—the up-fake, the jab, the swing-through—and they were working. Chris would get the ball in the post, and his opponents would have no idea what to expect. He could nail turnarounds and fadeaways, or wheel to face his defender and break him down off the dribble. This was impressive for a 15-year-old.

As a junior, Chris led his team to the state tournament, and Lincoln advanced to the semifinal. He played poorly in the first half and spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble. He felt personally responsible when Lincoln lost by two points. He vowed this would not happen again.

Chris played the 2001-02 season like a young man possessed. He did whatever the team needed, whenever it needed it. He was a dominant force without dominating the other Lincoln players. The numbers told the story—when the dust settled on Chris’s senior season, he had led Lincoln to a perfect 40-0 record and the state championship. Though he averaged a relatively modest 20 points and 14 rebounds, Chris was still was a no-brainer choice as Texas’s “Mr. Basketball.” A Parade first-team All-American, he was also selected to play in the McDonald’s All-Star Game.

ON THE RISE

With his stellar grades and advanced skills, Chris was on a lot of recruiting lists. Florida and Memphis launched all-out efforts to sign him, but it was Paul Hewitt, coach of Georgia Tech, who made the best impression. Chris felt Hewitt would look out for his best interests and respect his aspirations to one day play pro ball. He also liked Tech’s transition offense. It didn’t hurt that a cousin and aunt had attended the school and loved it—or that John Salley was a Tech alum.

When Chris enrolled at Georgia Tech, he fully intended to stay the full four years. The educational component of his basketball scholarship was tremendously important to him. But he became so good his freshman year, that he surprised even himself. Chris netted 26 points in his first college game. By the end of the year, he was hitting for 15 to 20 a night, snatching double-digit rebounds, and swatting a couple of shots a game. He was also hitting on half his shots from beyond the arc.


 

 

 

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John Salley, 1991 Archives

     
 

Chris finished the 2002-03 season with averages of 15.9 points and nine boards per game. He also had the highest field goal percentage in the ACC and the most blocks with 67. Still, it was not until the end of the ACC schedule that he began believing what he had heard for most of the season—that he was good enough to go in the first round of the NBA draft.

Tech was formidable at home but atrocious on the road, going 16-15 and 7-9 in the ACC. Though losing in front of hostile crowds was an unpleasant experience, it gave Chris a taste of what life might be like some day in the pros. The Yellowjackets were passed over for an NCAA bid, so they went to the NIT instead. There they played well and scored an impressive win over Texas before bowing out. Chris opened a lot of eyes in that game, hitting for 19 points and grabbing 12 boards.

After the season, Chris sat down with Hewitt and asked him whether the lottery pick talk was hype or not. He couldn’t believe it when his coach said that he would probably go somewhere between the fourth and eighth picks. Chris weighed the pros and cons of staying and going. In the end, he felt the chance to be a Top 5 NBA selection was too good to pass up.

With the draft approaching, Chris began to look at potential new addresses. If Hewitt was right and Chris went as high as fourth, he would begin his pro career north of the border. The Raptors were sitting at #4 behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets. They were thinking about Chris and a couple of other forwards, including Nick Collison of Kansas. Both players worked out for Toronto and looked great. When GM Glen Grunwald asked them to play a little one-on-one, the potential of Chris’s game was obvious to everyone. Collison, who was ultimately drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, simply wasn’t in the same class.

As expected, Cleveland grabbed LeBron James with the top pick, the Nuggets took Carmelo Anthony at #2, and Detroit tabbed Darko Milicic, who would become known as the “human victory cigar,” at #3. Toronto next selected Chris. Almost immediately, other NBA teams started making offers for him. They knew Toronto needed a veteran scorer, but Grunwald turned everyone down—despite pressure to make a trade from none other than Vince Carter, the team’s star. It was nothing against Chris; Carter simply wanted a little help that year.

Life as a professional player was totally new to 19-year-old Chris. He did not have an entourage, so he asked his cousin Adriene Mayes if she would share an apartment with him in Toronto. Mayes, who had a masters in engineering, was someone Chris looked up to. In addition to taking care of the finances and household chores, she often tyalked heart-to-heart with Chris. Mayes also helped to start the Chris Bosh Foundation, which helps underprivileged children.

Expectations for Chris were high as the 2003-04 campaign got under way. But with Carter as the team’s marquee player, Chris would not be asked to do much more than make the most of whatever minutes coach Kevin O’Neill gave him. Chris’s main objective was to add some beef to his 210-pound frame. Over the summer, he went on a 5,000-calorie-a-day diet and got into a lifting regimen to ensure that any bulk he added went to the right places. He also steered clear of the Big Macs and other junk food rookies tend to put into their bodies. Over the next two seasons, he would gain 30 pounds, almost all of it muscle.


Chris Bosh, 2003 Upper Deck
     
 

The Toronto team Chris joined had plenty of brawn, but little in the way of scoring punch. Carter was option A, B and C, and there was no option D. Early in the year, the Raptors made a deal to remedy this situation, trading center Antonio Davis and power forward Jerome Williams to the Indiana Pacers for a couple of scorers—guard Jalen Rose and forward Donyell Marshall. This gave the club some instant offense, while the hole left by the departing players became Chris’s job to fill. Congratulations, kid, you’re an NBA center!

Chris handled this task with enthusiasm and maturity. He absorbed a fearsome pounding on defense, but he held his own when the Raptors had the ball. The addition of Marshall, an excellent three-point shooter, forced opposing teams to send a big man out to the perimeter, leaving space for Carter and Rose to slash—and for Chris to work on his post-up moves. His nifty footwork also made him a natural for running high pick and rolls with guards Carter, Rose and Alvin Williams.

Chris got his touches and his shots, and finished the season at 11.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a night. The Raptors went 33-49 and missed the playoffs, but there seemed to be some hope for a turnaround.

The 2004-05 season found the team with a new coach in Sam Mitchell, a new GM in Bob Babcock, and without Williams, who sat out the year with a bad knee. The front office was not happy with how things were developing early in the season. Carter was disgruntled and itching to leave Canada. Chris was getting hammered at center. And the rest of the team just wasn’t playing with any chemistry.

The Raptors knew Chris had worked hard over the summer. He surprised many defenders by going right on the dribble, and surprised even more by shooting righthanded. It was wrong to expect him to continue to develop while playing out of position and in a potentially toxic clubhouse situation. On December 17, Toronto made a deal with the Nets that put Carter in a New Jersey uniform and brought widebodies Aaron Williams and Eric Williams across the border.

The trade coincided with the emergence of center Loren Woods, who signed with the Raptors over the summer, thus freeing Chris from the purgatory of defending NBA centers. He spent the rest of the year playing against small forwards and power forwards, tuning up his perimeter defense in the process.

MAKING HIS MARK

Toronto fans had wanted Carter to be their knight in shining armor, but he always seemed to have one foot out the door. They also lamented the day they let Tracy McGrady get away. Now all eyes were focused on Chris. Like it or not, he would carry the burden of being the Raptors’ franchise player. The 20-year-old was fine with that. He felt the pressure and accepted it, but he was determined not to rush his own development.

After the calendar flipped to January, Chris raised his game to another level. He notched nine consecutive double-doubles, establishing a new franchise record. Though the Raptors sputtered somewhat trying to get used to life without Carter, they began to come together as a team. A playoff berth was a future possibility.

The Raptors finished 33-49 again, and Chris led the team with 3,017 minutes played, 542 free throws made, 718 rebounds, and 113 blocks. His 16.8 points per game ranked second behind Jalen Rose, who averaged 18.5.

Chris took another important step toward stardom with the start of the 2005-06 season. With the Raptors unable to land a big-name free agent, he became Toronto’s leader and go-to guy. The club seemed content to slowly build around him. Management plugged holes where needed, and and waited to overhaul the roster until the opportunity to pull off a blockbuster move presented itself.

Meanwhile, Chris continued to polish his game. He was good for a double-double almost every night, and as the season approached the halfway point, he was the only member of the NBA’s Top 10 scorers making more than half his shots. He was also the only one among them who could, would and did play four of the five positions on the court. Ineed, Chris logging big minutes at center once again. He was rewarded for this effort with his first trip to the All-Star Game. Chris scored eight points and had eight rebounds in 16 minutes as the East squeezed by the West 122–120.

The Raptors never got over .500, and when Chris was hurt with 11 games to go, they shut him down and lost 10 of those contests to finish 27–55. Chris’s numbers were considerably better. He boosted his scoring to 22.5 per game and averaged 9.2 boards—both tops for Toronto. The Raptors rewarded him with a four-year contract extension worth $65 million.


Chris Bosh, 2004 Ultra
     
 

The 2006–07 campaign brought dramatic changes to the team, including the departures of Mike James and Charlie Villanueva. Chris had particularly close to Villanueva. Seeing him go was a tough pill to swallow.

Chris averaged 22.6 points and 10.7 rebounds to lead a club that now included playmaker TJ Ford and veteran Anthony Parker. Coach Mitchell did a superb job of working in foreign stars Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. The result was a complete turnaround, as Toronto won 47 games and captured the Atlantic Division crown. Chris made the All-Star Game again—as a starter—this time scoring 11 points with seven rebounds.

The Raptors faced Carter and the battle-hardened Nets in the opening round of the playoffs. Toronto fans booed Carter every time he touched the ball in the first two games, but New Jersey gained a split and then took the next two games at home. Back in Toronto, the Raptors held off a furious charge to win Game 5 and were in control of Game 6 with under a minute left. Richard Jefferson drove for the go-ahead basket and then leaped high to intercept a pass from Calderon. Chris was primed to take the final shot. He had already burned the Nets for 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Chris felt largely responsible for his team’s first-round failure. He performed poorly in the back-to-back blowouts suffered by the Raptors on the Nets' homecourt. He averaged 17.5 points for the series.

The chemistry that lifted the Raptors to the top of the division was not there in 2007–08. Ford and Calderon had switched off well at point guard the year before, but now they viewed themselves as competitors. Chris, meanwhile, missed more than a dozen games to injury. He played well but not always up to his previous standards. Still, he was picked for his third All-Star Game.

Chris averaged 22.3 points per game and snagged 8.7 rebounds. He also improved his free throw shooting, hitting 84.4%. At season’s end, the Raptors were 41–41 and hardly a threat in the playoffs. They were wiped out by the Orlando Magic in the opening round in five games. During the series, touted as a showdown between Dwight Howard and Chris, the Raptors turned to Chris in tight moments. He missed a potential game-winner in Game 2. In Game 4, he lit it up for 39 points and 15 rebounds, but Orlando pulled out the win. What became clear in the series loss was that Chris needed more help in the paint.

The Raptors thought they had that player when they acquired Jermaine O’Neal. But as the 2008–09 season unfolded, the sore-kneed O’Neal proved that he was not the player the teamexpected. Even when he and Chris played well together in the middle, Toronto’s perimeter players were unable to capitalize. Later in the year, O’Neal was dealt to the Heat for Shawn Marion, but he had a minimal impact.

Chris, meanwhile, continued to improve. He was an All-Star once again and finished among the NBA’s Top 10 in points, rebounds and free throws. At 24, he was just reaching his prime.

The Raptors, however, were an aging club without a second star. The team sank to 33–49, and Mitchell didn’ even last to Christmas. He was replaced by Jay Triano. The Raptors were a mess again.

Chris averaged his usual 22 points and 10 rebounds. Yet, though he had one year left on his deal with Toronto, fans in other cities were already anticipating his departure after 2009–10. At that point, he would be part of a free agent class including Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudamire and LeBron James. Heading into the final year of his contract, Chris turned down an extension offer by the Raptors.

Triano skippered the Toronto again in 2009–10 and did a respectable job with a lot of new faces. The Raptors finished with a 40–42 record on the strength of a potent offense led by Chris, who boosted his average to 24 points per game. The addition of multitalented of Hedo Turkgolu had a positive effect on Toronto, but defense and rebounding were still problematic. The Raptors had a shot at the playoffs but faltered down the stretch, losing five straight with seven games to go.


Chris Bosh, 2006 Topps
     
 

As soon as the season ended, the fun began. Chris decided to chronicle his free agent journey through Twitter postings and a documentary film crew that followed his negotiations with various NBA teams. Eventually those contract talks evolved into a sign-and-trade deal that landed him in Miami with Wade, who re-signed with the Heat. This triggered speculation that James would also head South, forming an historic trio. The three had discussed such a move, and in July, King James made it official. It was literally a dream come true for Chris.

The Heat got off to a surprisingly slow start in 2010–11, as the Big Three struggled to stay in synch. They hit their stride around the holidays, reeling off 21 wins in 22 games, and finished with 58 victories and the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Chris averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in 77 games and was a member of the All-Star team for the sixth year in a row.

As expected, the Heat burned a path to the NBA Finals through Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, winning each series in five games. Chris notched three double-doubles against the 76ers and three more against the Celtics. He shouldered more of the scoring load against the Bulls, who had no one to keep him in check. Chris hit for 30 or more twice in the series.

The Heat faced the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals and split the first two games on their homecourt. When the series moved to Dallas, Chris was the hero of Game 3 when he hit a baseline jumper to win an 88–86 defensive struggle. The blown lead in Game 2 came back to haunt the Heat, however, as Dallas rallied to win the next three games and take the championship. It was a bitter ending to a season full of promise and hype.

Refocused and rededicated in 2011–12, Miami won 46 of the 66 games played in the abbreviated schedule, and once again looked like the team to beat heading into the playoffs. Chris was good for 20 points and 10 rebounds most nights, though he struggled with various injuries and ended up sitting out nine games. His final numbers were 18.0 points and 7.9 boards a contest. He played in the All-Star Game for the seventh year in a row.

The Heat defeated the Knicks in the opening round of the playoffs, with Chris doing his best work in the paint. Miami was looking good to start it semifinal series against the Pacers. Early in Game 1, however, Chris left the game with an abdominal strain. Although the Heat won, Indiana took the next two. Miami recovered to sweep the next three and advance to the conference finals against the Celtics. Chris was still immobilized by his injury and watched from he bench as his teammates won the first two games and then dropped the next two to Boston. Chris finally returned to the lineup in Game 5, but he contributed little in a 94–90 loss.

With their backs against the wall, the Heat rebounded to win the final two games of the series and return to the NBA Finals. In Game 7 against Boston, Chris returned to form with 19 points and 8 rebounds in a 101–88 victory.


LeBron James, Dwyane Wade
& Chris Bosh

souvenir photo
     
 

The Heat faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in the finals. It was billed as a battle between LeBron and Kevin Durant. The Heat looked a little slow after their seven-game war with the Celtics, dropping the opening game 105–94. Chris began the contest on the bench and contributed 10 points in 33 minutes. The Heat returned to form starting Game 2, showing their skill and experience in a 100–96 victory. Chris ruled the paint, hauling down 15 rebounds.

Miami swept the next three games, prevailing in close battles in Game 3 and Game 4, and then destroying Oklahoma City in the finale, 121–106. The Thunder had players to match up with Wade and James, but they had no answer for Chris, who played through the lingering pain of his injury to provide valuable points and rebounds. It took a year longer than Miami fans had hoped and expected, but the Heat had reached the pinnacle of pro basketball.

As a member of the Heat, Chris may have seen his touches diminish, but he was delighted to swap a few point a game for that coveted piece of jewelry. Will the Heat fulfill their self-proclaimed destiny of multiple NBA titles? Only time will tell. One thing, however, seems certain. Chris will continue to be a class act … as he schools the rest of the league in the fine art of basketball.

CHRIS THE PLAYER

No young player in the NBA uses his intellect to greater advantage than Chris. He can watch tape of an opponent for an hour and memorize every move, then start working on ways to defend and beat him. He rarely faces an opponent without already having a book on his tendencies.

Chris has an offensive game well-suited for the NBA. His footwork is at a superstar-level for his position, and it serves him well in all facets of his game. If his shot is working, he’ll score consistently from 12 to 15 feet. If not, he’ll take it to the rack. And he is devilishly good in transition. His impressive offensive repertoire has improved from season to season. He can post-up or dribble-drive, and he’s adept at passing out of double-teams. With a more talented roster in Miami, he should have a lot more room to maneuver. It may not result in more points and more rebounds, but with a max contract in his pocket, all Chris cares about is winning.

On defense, Chris’s hours in the video room have paid huge dividends. He has learned the tendencies of troublesome outside-shooting power guys like Dirk Nowitzki and now happily chases them all night if he has to. He can also guard the league’s most elusive swingmen when necessary. And of course, as Chris added more mass, he got better and better at banging inside.

Chris’s dedication and maturity make him a valued leader. His greatest plus? Maybe it is that he doesn’t seem to have any major minuses. If there is a soft spot in his game, he works on improving it. If he makes a mistake, he learns from it. With two superstar teammates to support him in Miami, he could be looking at a string of championships and, just maybe, a place in the Hall of Fame.


Chris Bosh, Got Mil ad

     

 

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