Sometime later this week or early next, Chris Bosh will take his place in Raptors history.
That he stood just 73 points away from eclipsing Vince Carter as Toronto’s franchise scoring leader was news to him yesterday, though.
“How many points? Well I know now,” he said with a grin, after being apprised by a reporter of the upcoming milestone at practice.
“It’s pretty cool because there have been so many good players to come through here.”
Bosh has come a long way from the game, but the painfully skinny, kid from Dallas who arrived in Toronto in 2003 after being selected fourth overall in one of the strongest drafts in NBA history.
Though Carter scored his 9,420 points in 403 games as a Raptor and Bosh has tallied his 9,348 points in 471 games, Carter was a first-option, rookie-of-the year superstar from the get-go, while Bosh matured into his role after Carter was traded to New Jersey 1 1/2 seasons into Bosh’s career. Now, Bosh is among the NBA’s leaders in points and rebounds per game, averaging career bests in both this season.
Bosh already is the franchise leader in rebounds, blocks and double-doubles, but it is the scoring record that carries with it the most cachet and it is one he never really expected to claim. First, he had to prove himself, most notably to Carter, who had asked the team to trade the pick that begat Bosh for veteran help in the form of Rasheed Wallace or Latrell Sprewell.
Bosh acknowledged that when he first arrived, he had high aspirations, but did he think of himself as a potential franchise lynchpin?
“No,” Bosh said matter-of-factly. “I mean, when I came here, I didn’t know my role, I didn’t think I was going to turn into the player I am today. I’m pretty lucky.”
Two of his colleagues believe luck had little to do with his achievements.
“Obviously he’s unbelievably talented, but the one thing that separates him from a lot of other guys is he has the work ethic to go with it,” said Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack, who roomed with Bosh when both were freshmen at Georgia Tech.
“He didn’t just settle with being naturally talented, naturally gifted. He tried to combine the two and that’s the MVP candidate you see today.”
Jack said Bosh was that way from the day he arrived in college and that the effect was contagious.
“He had a drive and a hunger about him at that particular age, it’s really where I got my work ethic from, to be honest,” Jack said.
“I remember one night we had just come home from study hall. We had just had practice (and) a long day of classes, and he was on his way out the door (to the gym).
“We both went, got in shots and I asked him: ‘You do this all the time?’ And he said: ‘Yeah.’ I was like, no wonder.”
Though Bosh may not have seen himself turning into a dominant NBA player one day, Raptors assistant coach Alvin Williams, a teammate of both Bosh and Carter as rookies, said he isn’t surprised.
“My expectations with seeing him play the first time was higher than Vince,” Williams said.
“I didn’t think Vince would become the player he was that fast. With Chris, I didn’t know much about him, I just saw that he had a lot of skill for a guy his size and he listened and worked hard.”
Things have not changed, even though Bosh is now a perennial all-star.
“Guys (usually) level off, but every year, (Bosh) just gets better,” Williams said.
“He’s here late at night, working on his game, day-after-day. That’s just the side that people don’t see.”