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  Wed, October 22, 2003


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A learning experience for Bosh

By KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

Take a hint from Kevin O'Neill: chill.

In these early days in the apprenticeship of Chris Bosh, cut the kid some slack. A little patience will pay a huge dividend one day, and perhaps that day is not far off.

Bosh, the Raptors' first-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech is going to be a bigtime player in the NBA. He's young and he's raw and he's going to have a few nights like last night, when things don't go well.

Against a Chicago Bulls' interior defence bigger than most NFL offensive lines, Bosch was mauled and stuffed and generally got the rookie treatment from the officials. Which is to say,'What foul?'

"That's a team that's much bigger than us on the front line," said Raptor coach O'Neill, after Chicago's 94-91 victory at the ACC.

"They just took the ball right to us in the paint. For Chris, it was a good learning experience tonight. He got stripped four or five times. The thing that was good was that he played through it.

"He's going to have nights like this. I'm sure that Eddie Curry and Tyson Chandler had those nights when they started. But all in all, it was a good experience for him. He's going to have a lot of nights when he's in those positions because he's playing against bigger, stronger guys. He's going to have to compensate for that. Sometimes they're just going to wear him down a bit like they did tonight."

Bosh, just 19, was giving away as much as 50 pounds in the paint. He's 6-10 and 220 pounds and even though he's added 10 or 15 pounds of new muscle since he was drafted last spring, he's not yet a physical match for Curry or Marcus Fizer, both 260-pounders.

Despite his struggles last night, O'Neill left Bosh on the floor down the stretch as the Raptors tried to win it.

Indeed, Bosh's dunk, off a nifty feed from guard Milt Palacio with 33 seconds left, gave Toronto a one-point lead but that disappeared quickly.

On Toronto's last possession, they needed a three-pointer to tie and Bosh was still on the floor.

"That kid's going to be out there to finish a lot of games," said O'Neill. "Not just this year but a long ways down the road. The last thing I wanted to do tonight when he was struggling was to take him out of the game and say 'Don't worry Chris, it's okay.' I guess I wanted him to play through that. He's going to have many nights like that."

At various times last night, veterans like Antonio Davis and Vince Carter would take a few seconds during stoppages on the floor to offer some encouragement to the teenager.

"They were just telling me not to let things get me down, keep working hard," said Bosh, who had four points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes. "If you stop working, if you give in, it's no good.

"They've been giving me a lot of support. A lot."

And it meant a great deal to Bosh to be on the court at crunch time, even if it was only a pre-season game.

"That gives me a lot of confidence," he said. "I guess it shows that I've been doing something right. He left me out there to learn. Your first reaction when you miss a layup or something, is that you want to go back and dunk it. But you have to stay patient. You have to let the game come to you. It could be the last shot of the game but it's got to come to you."

It is a huge jump from college to the pros, especially when his experience at college was limited to one solitary season. It is difficult to imagine watching NBA stars as a high-school player, idolizing them, and then just two years later trying to outmuscle them on the court.

"Sometimes it can be intimidating but I have to put that out of my mind because I want to be in that position someday, so I've got to start somewhere."

So, he's starting here in Toronto, a man-child among men, impressing everyone in the organization with his attitude, work ethic and respect for the game.

So, swallow that impulse to boo when he fails to make a shot or when he gets beaten defensively.

There were a few of those last night, both the boos and the mistakes. Patience will pay off in the long run.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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