2007-03-23 / Sports

Emerging Bosh's Star Points North For Raptors

By John J. Buro

By John J. Buro

On paper, there should have been no way that the New York Knicks would stay close to the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden last Sunday.

New York played without Jamal Crawford, David Lee and Quentin Richardson - each of whom is injured- and was further hampered by Eddy Curry's 16 fragmented minutes in which he amassed five points, four fouls, and one rebound. These two tidbits should have been more than enough for Toronto to achieve a road victory.

But, after the Knicks outscored the Raptors 35-13 in the third quarter -eradicating the visitors' slim two-point halftime margin-, the outcome was a mere formality. Once more, Isiah Thomas - toasting his first victory since Cablevision CEO James Dolan granted an early contract extension- had choreographed an unexpected result.

In another locker room, Chris Bosh was not surprised at all by these sudden turn of events. He knows, more than most, what NBA players are capable of when faced with adversity.

"The Knicks," said the 23 year-old All-Star forward, "are one of the most talented teams in the league. They've very deep and, even without three important guys in their offense, they have guys who can score.

Today, it happened to be Channing [Frye, who hit 10 of 15 shots from the floor, and added seven rebounds].

"I know teams are going to let me have my way with them. New York was bringing guys, and we weren't shooting the ball well. We have to keep the ball moving - that was one of the things that got us into first place in our division."

Bosh, who tallied 21 points and seven boards in the loss, has been in the league long enough to shrug off such disappointments. After all, it is an 82-game season. So, while the Raptors had one full game shaved off their Atlantic Division lead, he recognized the big picture.

He had entered the 2003 Draft after just one year at Georgia Tech and two years removed from leading Lincoln High School [Dallas] to the USA Today National Championship with a perfect 40-0 season, including 23 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks in the finale.

Awards and honors had already filled his mantelpiece. Basketball America named him the High School Player of the Year, and he was Powerade's Texas Player of the Year.

He was a First-Team All-American, according to EA Sports, McDonald's, Parade Magazine and SLAM; a First-Team All-State player, and voted 'Mr. Basketball' by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Bosh was also a star in the classroom as well, evidenced by his membership in the National Honor Society.

So, even if his rise to stardom [from the No.4 slot] hasn't been as meteoric as LeBron James', Carmelo Anthony's or Dwyane Wade's - three of the more celebrated players who re-surfaced on the June evening, Bosh was still a known commodity by those who had done their homework.

The pattern had already developed with each of these four basketball prodigies.

James did not pursue college. Anthony played only as a freshman, leading the Syracuse Orangemen to the NCAA title, before answering David Stern's call to the podium. Wade reached his junior season at Marquette University. Bosh, who at one point, was intending to study graphic design and computer imaging at what is formally known as the Georgia Institute of Technology, was one and done.

There, he led the Yellow Jackets with 15.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 31 games, and became just the second freshman ever to top the Atlantic Coast Conference in field goal percentage.

Now, in Toronto, the one-time ACC Rookie of the Year is known simply as CB4, as both his initials and jersey number have become even more identifiable than the cult movie of the same name.

As a rookie, the 6'10", 225, Bosh was the de-facto starting center after Antonio Davis was traded to the Chicago Bulls. Though frequently outmuscled, he finished with 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.41 blocks in 75 games, and merited a selection to the league's All-Rookie First Team.

In 2004-05, Bosh was anointed as the franchise's building block after Vince Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets; the Raptors were rewarded with 81 starts and averages of 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds.

In New Jersey on February 22, Bosh became the third-youngest player in NBA history to record 1,000 career rebounds. Barely a month later, in Philadelphia, he was the fourth-youngest in league history to record 20 points and 20 rebounds in one game.

The following season, Bosh - now a team captain- was chosen to play in the league's All-Star Game. Later on, a thumb injury forced him to sit for 11 games and, when Toronto dropped ten of those, Bosh's importance was duly underscored.

In July 2006, he inked a three-year contract extension, with a player option for a fourth year, totaling $65 million.

During the first half of this season, Bosh averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds, and earned another All-Star berth- his first as a starter. Subsequently, it is no coincidence that the Raptors' progress has paralleled his own.

Compared to last season, Toronto has done much more right. At 36-31, they are 11 games better than their 2005-06 mark. And, if Bosh hadn't missed 12 games [the Raptors were 6-6 while he rested a sore left knee], they may have run away from the rest of the division.

"We'll gonna move on from this game," he said. "There haven't been too many games when we got our head handed to us. We don't want to get too caught up into this [loss]; if we do, it could carry over to our next game, and we don't want that to happen."

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