Bosh spiceRookie makes impression in Raptors' debut
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Chris Bosh's first catch was more impressive than his first dunk.
About four minutes into the first quarter last night, Raptors point guard Alvin Williams lobbed a pass to Bosh, who was near the baseline to the right of the basket. The pass was high, however, and Bosh had to use all of his slender 6-foot-10 frame as he leaped into the air to snare the ball.
By this time there were no Washington Wizards within a country mile of Bosh, and the wide-eyed rookie sauntered to the rim and threw down a routine two-handed slam. The dunk may not have removed all the butterflies in Bosh's gut as he played in his first NBA pre-season game, but it certainly helped.
Bosh, 19, amassed an impressive 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, eight rebounds, a block and a steal in a team-high 30 minutes as the Raptors beat the Wizards 76-71.
"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," Bosh said of his nerves.
Perhaps Bosh's most memorable play of the evening was a big block on Washington's Juan Dixon in the fourth quarter. Now, it's true Dixon is only 6-foot-3, but Bosh had to display some noticeable athleticism to make the play.
"He's a big (bleep), ain't he?" Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill said to the nearest referee. Said Bosh afterward, "The coach told me to keep diving to the basket, so that's what I did."
A night earlier in Detroit, the No. 1 pick in the draft, LeBron James, played in his first game for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Pistons at the Palace. James' presence attracted a near-sellout crowd and media from coast to coast. There was bona fide buzz in the building.
There wasn't quite the same atmosphere at the Air Canada Centre last night, which suited Bosh just fine. But Bosh, who was selected fourth in the draft, still faced a healthy crowd of reporters afterward.
"I have to get used to this," he said. "I'd better."
O'Neill has said he's going to bring Bosh along carefully, making sure never to put him into positions where he's bound to fail. That's the way a young player builds confidence, or so the thinking goes.
If the plan is solid, Bosh will respond. He appears to have a good head on his shoulders and his personality suggests he won't be prone to trying to do too much too soon.
When Bosh said yesterday he spent most of training camp "being a young person, just sitting back and listening to the old fellas," he didn't mean it as an insult, but actually as a compliment to the knowledge exhibited by those around him. Either the veteran Raptors got smarter over the summer, or Bosh is exceptionally respectful of his elders.
Pistons coach Larry Brown, whose club debuted No. 2 pick Darko Milicic on Tuesday, said thus far he has been impressed by the attitude of this year's top NBA rookies. "I haven't heard any of them say they want to lead the league in scoring, which is a good sign," Brown said.
"I really think most kids want to be coached. But I'm also amazed how any of them can deal with it, being told for so long how special they are and all the special treatment. For example, it used to be that camps (in the summer) taught kids basketball fundamentals and never singled out anybody. Now our camps are just all-star games."
No one could confuse the proceedings last night for an all-star game. But Bosh did more than enough to keep himself and his employers enthused.
"I'm impressed," teammate Vince Carter said. "He's in a great position to succeed, because with all the attention on the other top picks, he's kind of the forgotten soul."
Bosh is soft-spoken, but he is competitive. He knows he was the fourth player taken in a draft that was reputed to be three players deep. He said he will follow the progress of the other members of his rookie class, such as James, Milicic and No. 3 pick Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets.
"You always have to keep an eye on the competition, just to see how they're doing," Bosh said. "Not that you're wishing for anything bad to happen to them."
Unless they're playing the Raptors, right, Chris?