Bosh doesn't plan to let anyone down

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Somewhere up in the great beyond, the late Detroit sports columnist Joe Falls was looking down at the Chris Bosh news conference yesterday with a smile on his face.

Besides being a great storyteller, Falls was a guy who, when you asked how he was doing, or compliment his work, or anything like that, he'd always thank you.

I remember at the 1992 Albertville Olympics, Joe would sit at the end of the big work table and was sort of the unofficial greeter of the media work room.

You'd say: "How are ya, Joe?"

"Thank you, thank you," he would reply.

That was sort of the deal yesterday, when the Raptors announced the three-year (plus a one-year option) extension for Bosh, their franchise player.

From general manager Bryan Colangelo to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. chairman Larry Tanenbaum, everybody kept thanking Bosh for taking $43 million US, $48 million when you include the final year on his current rookie contract.

It was kind of weird, but that's the way of the NBA these days.

Without Bosh agreeing to this extension, the Raptors might as well pack up and move to St. Louis. But now that he is locked up for at least the next four seasons, the Raptors have a chance to do things their fans could only dream of in recent years, such as winning games and maybe even qualifying for the playoffs.

Bosh isn't as splashy or sensational as a few of the other guys in his draft class -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony -- but he is a present and future all-star and, more importantly, a kid who really seems to hate losing.

A couple of seasons ago, before they shipped his whiny butt to New Jersey, Vince Carter walked off the court during yet another losing battle at the Air Canada Centre and started clowning around, not really caring too much about the score. Bosh, who was all of 19 at the time, wouldn't have anything to do with it, angrily motioning Carter away.

It was around that time, when Carter stopped caring, that Bosh began to step up as a leader in the locker room, and the extension MLSEL so happily laid on him yesterday, formally recognizes the fact that this is now his team.

From this point on, if he chooses to throw his weight around, Bosh can have a teammate benched, ostracized or even traded. Colangelo calls the personnel shots, but it's Bosh who will be whispering in his ear.

"I have to be ready (when) people look at me (and ask): 'Why didn't you win today?' But I am ready for it," Bosh said of his leadership role. "I've been dreaming of this since I've been playing basketball, to be THE guy. I'm in that position (now). So I'm not going to fail myself."

The good news is, Bosh is not the type of kid who will take the $43 million, buy a new Bentley for each day of the week and begin a workout regimen at a local strip bar. Yes, he was wearing diamond earrings yesterday and a wrist watch that could pay off the debts of a couple of Third World countries, but Bosh insisted that the new dollars will not change his desire to lead the Raptors to the promised land, nor will it change him as a person.

"Not at all," he said. "I've seen how money changes people. I've seen those people be alone with themselves. I grew up with nothing, (so) I appreciate things like this.

"Plus, I have too many people back home who would disown me if I started acting funny. I don't need to do that."

Bosh said that his reasons for passing on a five-year extension in favour of three years was strictly a business decision, and not a slag toward the Raptors. His agent, Henry Thomas, said that his client would like to play his entire career in T.O.

Of course, we heard that before when Carter signed a six-year extension in 2001. And then Carter decided that the water in Toronto tasted funny, or something like that, and wanted out.

For Bosh, the only scenario that would sour his stay with the Raptors is if the team continued to flounder in mediocrity. But he said that he has faith in Colangelo and has been impressed with most of the new GM's moves.

"We pretty much share each other's vision," he said.


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