The multitalented 28-year-old Miami Heat power forward has dubbed himself the "Most Distinguished Gentleman of the NBA," but earlier this year he added some even grander titles: "NBA Champion" and "Dad." What's next? How about "Filmmaker"?
Author CLAIRE BLOOMFIELD Illustration TADAOMI SHIBUYA
CHRIS BOSH IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE BALLPLAYER. The 28-year-old Miami Heat power forward has dubbed himself the “Most Distinguished Gentleman of the NBA,” which would seem like a put-on if he didn’t take such pains to ensure it’s true. He’s editor at large for Ocean Drive magazine. He reads voraciously, with a special affinity for philosophy texts. He played bass in a one-off 1920s-style jazz trio with teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (and they “weren’t that bad,” according to TMZ). And he’s a seven-time NBA all-star to boot.
Hailing from an athletic family in Hutchins, Texas, Bosh seemed destined for stardom from a young age. He was named “Mr. Basketball” in high school, an honor bestowed upon the single best player in the state, and attended Georgia Tech for one season before entering the NBA draft in 2003. He was picked up by the Toronto Raptors, and when he left that team in 2010 it was as one of the most sought-after free agents of the year. Bosh wound up playing for the Heat, where he quickly became a fan favorite for his performance both on and off the court.
Bosh suffered an abdominal injury late last season, which knocked him off the U.S. Olympic team, but he was able to come back in time for the Heat’s march to the 2012 NBA Championship. After cruising past the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, the Heat trailed in their series with the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics. Having eked out wins against both, however, the Heat trounced the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in Game 5 to win the series 4-1 and lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
We caught up with Bosh as he was taking a well-deserved break to rest, play with his infant son and get ready to help defend his team’s crown this season.
HEMISPHERES: Since we last spoke, you won the NBA Championship. How does it feel?
BOSH: It feels great. Words cannot describe it. It’s a recurring, awesome feeling.
HEMISPHERES: For a while there, it wasn’t certain whether you’d be able to play. How frustrating was it to miss out on those opening playoff games?
BOSH: It was nine games but it felt like 100. I wanted to be out there. It was hard to sit and watch. But the rest of the team did a great job.
HEMISPHERES: What sort of spectator are you? Do you yell?
BOSH: For the first few games I didn’t sit on the bench with the team because I was hurt. But I’m a pretty vocal spectator. I’m always vocal, because I’m vocal on the court. If I’m watching the game on TV and it’s my team, then I’m talking like I’m out there, man. I was giving them tips in the locker room. During the playoffs the sense of urgency was so high that I wanted to do anything I could to help the team win, even if it was just saying something. They made me feel like I was a part of it. We were always in it together.
HEMISPHERES: But you did make it back for the finals. What do you remember most from those games?
BOSH: When we were in it, it felt extremely slow, but in reality it all happened in a very short period of time. The things you savor the most happen the quickest. You’re like, “Man, did that really just happen?” [Laughs.] It’s just been a blur, but that’s how it’s supposed to be and that makes it a lot of fun.
HEMISPHERES: Some of the Thunder players were close to tears on the court after you won …
BOSH: It’s an extremely difficult situation, to get that far and come up short. You put everything into it; you go through so much just getting there. You have to experience it personally to really know what it feels like. That was us a year ago. And when we won this year, we remembered it. I carried it with me every day. I thought about it before every game.
HEMISPHERES: So what’s your next move? Do you feel as if there’s even more pressure on you now?
BOSH: Yeah, now it’s about defending the title. Everybody wants to beat the champions. We’ve put the X on our own backs, but as long as we leave the celebrating where it was and concentrate on what’s next, I think we’ll be fine. Still, it’s an exciting feeling for me. It’s another challenge. We did what we wanted to do, but that’s only the beginning of our story. I’m always thinking about what’s next.
HEMISPHERES: If nothing else, it must be nice to know you can come back this year with no lockout drama hanging over everything, as there was last year.
BOSH: It’s definitely more comfortable knowing I have a job next year. That’s a blessing. Last year was a little bit chaotic and guys didn’t know if they were in shape or how the team was going to turn out. The team had to sign guys in, like, two days, and that usually takes three months. [Laughs.] It was just all over the place. This year will be more structured—which will also make it more difficult to defend our title, by the way. Everybody is going to have the chance to have a full camp and have a lot of practice time. It’ll be a great season!
HEMISPHERES: Who do you expect to be hot on your heels?
BOSH: The Bulls are always good, the Lakers have improved, the Knicks have improved. Oklahoma City, they’re going to improve too. These are teams that are really going to be able to make some moves. The Clippers will have a whole camp to bond and jell. There are a bunch of teams out there that have a lot of potential to be really good.
HEMISPHERES: You weren’t able to join Team USA at the Olympics this summer because of your injury. How tough was it to admit that you wouldn’t be fit enough to play in London?
BOSH: It was a mutual decision by the doctors, the team and me. They ran through what could happen and the possible consequences. They pretty much told me I needed to heal all the way so that it wouldn’t become a chronic issue. You have to listen to the doctors. Even though I wanted to be out there representing my country, I had to think about my career and my health. Besides, it gave other guys a chance to have that Olympic experience, guys who deserved it. We had a great time together when I played back in 2008. You build memories for a lifetime.
HEMISPHERES: Earlier this year you also welcomed a new baby into the family—congratulations!
BOSH: Thank you, thank you very much. Yes, we had a baby boy, Jackson. It’s fantastic; I get to play with him every day, watch him grow. It’s a huge responsibility but it’s like a dream come true. Man, being married to a very beautiful woman, having a beautiful child and a championship under your belt—I couldn’t write it if I wanted to. If you had told me when I was growing up that all this would happen to me, I don’t think I would have believed you. [Laughs.]
HEMISPHERES: I’m guessing baby Jackson already has a courtside seat?
BOSH: He was at the game when we won the title. We brought him onto the court and I got to hold him while I was out there. I was really excited because I wanted him to see it and just experience it.
HEMISPHERES: Last time we talked, you told me that you’re a big fan of documentaries. Have you ever considered making one?
BOSH: I’m kind of in the middle of making one, I guess, but I don’t know where it’s going. That’s the thing about documentaries: You can start filming and then it goes in a totally different direction from what you intended. I guess I’m just in the midst of trying to grasp what the story is. Eventually it’ll all come out. It’s a work in progress. I’m holding on to the footage right now, waiting for the right opportunity to arise. When it does, we’ll be ready.
Sky Sports’ CLAIRE BLOOMFIELD is convinced her invitation to join the Miami Heat dancers is still winging its way across the Atlantic.
2012 salary: $16,022,500
Points per game (career average): 19.8
Rebounds per game (career average): 9.1
Field goal percentage (career average): 49.2
Points per game (playoff average): 14
Points scored in Game 5 against Oklahoma City: 24
Most points in a game: 44 (vs. Milwaukee in 2010)