Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So long, Chris Bosh

After years of talk and speculation, the 2010 free agency period is just 8 hours away. In other words, the Chris Bosh era in Toronto will end in 8 hours. Raptor fans, media, and even front office people are under the impression their 5 time all-star won't return to Toronto--hell, Bryan Colangelo admitted it's "likely" his franchise player will sign somewhere else. Given the latest speculation, and Bosh's recent comments and tweets, I've come to the realization that my favorite NBA player, the guy who I grew up idolizing, the guy who I defended when my friends mocked, won't return to the Raptors next year.

I still remember the day Bosh was drafted. I was only 9 years old, but felt a special connection to the tall, lanky forward. After witnessing Vince Carter turn his back to the country that praised him, I began to realize that Bosh would be the face of the Toronto Raptors franchise and I'd be watching him in a Raptors uniform for years to come. Bosh soon became my favorite NBA player--I'd buy his jersey, shout his name out when I attended games, pretend I was him when I shoot hoops in my driveway...you get the idea. I felt a stronger and better connection with Bosh, compared to Vince Carter. I don't remember a whole lot from Carter's Raptor days because I was very young. With Bosh, I can distinctively remember every minor detail during his playing days as a Raptor. He represented everything a positive athlete possesses. Whether it was donating a few million dollars to his foundation, or setting basketball camps in Dallas and Toronto, my admiration towards Chris Bosh was much deeper then basketball. Bottom line: Chris Bosh was a role model to kids like myself.

Chris Bosh made the Raptors a relevant team in the NBA. He was the reason the Raptors won their first and only Atlantic Division title in 2008 and allowed the team to make three consecutive trips to the playoffs. I'm not going to mention how the Raptors failed in the playoffs, because that's not the point of this blog - I'm here, not to bash our franchise player, but to celebrate his legacy, and show fellow fans how I'm feeling during a sad time in Raptors history.

It's a shame that such a good story will have such a tragic ending. It appears as though Chris Bosh has no intentions of returning to his hometown of 7 years, and has been continuously hinting that he's had a plan in place for a couple months. The first hint at Bosh leaving came at the end of the season. The Raptors finished a disappointing 40-42, and missed the playoffs thanks to a late season collapse. My suspicions grew when Bosh posted a tweet on Twitter saying "Been wanting to ask. Where should I go next season and why?". He later corrected himself, and posted a new tweet asking "Ok... Let me rephrase the question. Should I stay or should I go?". Nowadays, athletes can make headlines by the tweets they post. Bosh's hints have grown more frequently, and have caused shockwaves throughout the Raptor community. In fact, rumors have circulated that a sign and trade deal is in the works, which would send Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat for Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony. Although some media outlets believe this deal is dead, it certainly gives indication that Bosh will be playing his basketball in the United States next year.

I'm going to be one of the saddest people in the world tomorrow. Not only will my idol of seven years no longer be with my favorite team, but my favorite team's future will be in serious jeopardy. Without Chris Bosh, how successful will the Toronto Raptors be in 2010-2011? Michael Beasley, who looks to be involved in a potential sign and trade for Bosh, will have huge shoes to fill, and I'm not sure if he can. If the Raptors acquire Beasley, Chalmers and Joel Anthony, the Raptors free agency options will be limited since the team will be over the salary cap. If the Raptors have any shot of even making the playoffs next year, Bryan Colangelo must trade way Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon, or other big contract players in order to bring in proven veterans.

So let this be my farewell goodbye, Mr. Bosh. Thanks for all you've done--both on and off the court. Although I was able to attend one of your basketball camps, kids who look up to appreciate your charismatic personality, and enjoy the fact that you give back to the community. Thanks for putting the Toronto Raptors back on the map. After Vince Carter left, the Raptors seemed irreverent and weren't looked at as a good team. Thanks to your efforts, the Raptors gained more recognition. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to three our four times a week, when the Raptors play one their regular season games. Thanks for the signing my photo when I attended the Raptors-Nets game this past December, and thanks for giving me a high-five as you walked into the locker room--I didn't wash my hand for a looong time. Thanks for signing my "First Ink" DVD when I pre-ordered a copy on your website. Thanks for being the greatest player in Raptors history with stats to back it up. Thanks for giving 100% effort on every play--both offensively and defensively. Thanks Chris. Thanks a lot. Wherever you sign, I wish you the best of luck. I hope you get something you didn't get in Toronto--a ring. I hope you get better supporting cast, whether that support comes from LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or another superstar free-agnet. I know I'll be first in line to get tickets when the Raptors play your new team. When Herbie Kuhn announces your name, I'll applaud loudly--because I know a superstar deserves better then an average, Canadian team. Your years of service deserve loud cheers and clapping hands. Trust me Chris, I'd leave Toronto if I was in your position as well.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, I'll look to my right side wall and look at my Chris Bosh fathead. When I turn around, I'll see my Chris Bosh scoring title plague. I won't take either of them down. Rather, I'll cherish them for years to come, and think to myself...yeah, he was something, wasn't he?

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