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Chris Bosh: Below the radar

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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 has 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 in 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 USA to a gold medal in the Global Games. In the finals, against Yugoslavia, 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 demonstrated that his skills had truly reached the next level. However, Bosh himself was a little more cautious about the NBA.

“I’M A PRODUCT OF THE SYSTEM. SO, I JUST ROLL WITH IT. I BELIEVE FIRMLY IN HELPING KIDS BECAUSE I KNOW AT ONE POINT IN TIME SOMEBODY HELPED ME. SO I JUST GO WITH THAT. I WENT TO ALL THE FREE SUMMER CAMPS, BASKETBALL CAMPS. THAT JUST MOTIVATES ME TO HELP OTHER KIDS.”

“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 really early.” In December, Davis was traded 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 Grunwald. 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.

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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 ballerz may have received 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 along with 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 Canada.
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 I know at one point in time somebody helped me. So I just go with that. I went to all the free summer camps, 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: no 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 their losses. “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 has 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.

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NBA

The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series

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The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
RIP Portland...

Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.

And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.

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This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.

Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.

The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.

Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.

The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.

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But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?

Well that just may be the secret of success?

The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.

I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.

Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.

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NBA

Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park

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Welcome To The Toronto Raptors' Jurassic Park
They The North...

“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”

Fans find a way.

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An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.

Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.

And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.

Welcome to Jurassic World.

With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the teams spiritual sixth man, spark plug. As electric as the paddock like perimeter fence surrounding them feels with this buzz over basketball (and national sport hockey come Leaf picking season), this crowd can’t be contained.

Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.

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Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?

I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic though, like it was all the basketball God’s plan.

Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.

This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.

And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.

But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.

Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.

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