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Chris Bosh in Five Scenes

May 2 2019
Photo by
David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images
Photo by
David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat
May 2 2019
Y

o, Spike!!

SPIKE LEE WON HIS OSCAR.

The legend. Did y’all watch the Academy Awards this year?? It was cool, man. Almost 30 YEARS after they snubbed him for Do the Right Thing, my guy Spike took one home: Best Adapted Screenplay, for BlacKkKlansman.

And while the rest of the night’s winners ended up disappointing some people — I’m going to get selfish here for a minute and say it worked out perfectly for me. Because while Spike got his gold statue….. he still needs the BIG ONE. He still needs to win that Best Picture trophy.

The Chris Bosh story, directed by Spike Lee. Hollywood, how bout it?!?!

Which is where I come in.

The Chris Bosh story, directed by Spike Lee.

Hollywood, how bout it?!?!

Alright, so you’re not feeling that. It’s cool. I can admit that my life story might not be “directed by the GOAT” status. But it’s just this long-running joke of mine — because I’ve been a movie fan for really as far back as I can remember. I’ve always been this low-key film aficionado. And while I was coming up as a basketball player, film became the lens through which I’d picture my career. Not because everything I did was MOVIE-level interesting. But I guess it was more like….. movies became the structure of how I imagined things.

Something would happen — and even right then, in the moment, I’d be like, O.K., that’s a scene.

That’s a scene from the Chris Bosh story.

Here are five:

I. INT. HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASIUM – DAY

O.K., I mean — you wanna know about a SCENE?? The ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey, in 2001…… that’s a scene. It was CRAZY. The level of buzz, it just wasn’t anything I’d ever really experienced before. High school hoops was pure word of mouth back then. There wasn’t YouTube or Instagram or Snapchat or whatever else. All you could know about another guy was what you’d heard. Like, unless you’d played against someone?? They weren’t anything but a name in a magazine, man. A ranking. An idea.

And then on top of that, this is my first national camp. I’m 17 years old. You can picture it, right?? Huge gym — six or seven courts. It’s packed. (No, hang on, let’s add a few thousand more extras. I don’t want one of those budget movies with the cheap-looking CGI crowds.) O.K., so it’s PACKED. Every scout worth anything is there. All types of national media is there. Three hundred of the best high school players in the country are there. And I’m coming in ready, man. Focused. A year before that, I hadn’t gotten ANY invitations to the big camps. Wasn’t even ON these top 100 lists. How do you think that made me feel?? So this year, it’s like, I had that growth spurt and I’m out here — we’re making up for lost time. I’ve gotta kill ALL these dudes.

Damian Strohmeyer /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

First game of the camp. Every scout is in the stands.

Like I said: I’m ready. I’m focused.

But then….. this funny thing happens. Alright, so this guy — this kid, really — on the other team, he comes up to me before tip. He’s not super big, but he’s got good size for 16. And what happens is, this kid, he points to me. And then he looks at me. Then he points to me again.

And he says, “I got him! I’m checking him!”

WTF?

Like I said, at this stage of things, unless you’ve played each other — you don’t really know who’s who. And if you’re me? The tallest guy on the floor? Then you also don’t really CARE who’s who.

I’m walking around the court with that swag — like I know I’m nice, you know what I mean?

I wasn’t cocky, but…. O.K., maybe I was a little cocky. But I was good, too. I was fast — that was my thing. I was skinny….. but you couldn’t catch me. I would run down the court, get dunks, get blocks, plus I’m handling the ball, I’m pushing the ball, I’m shooting the three. Just basically getting MINE, on demand. I could do whatever I wanted.

So I’m like, Check ME?! This nobody thinks he’s checking ME?! Kid….. I’ll check YOU.

(Alright, so in this scene, right about now, I’m thinking we’ll do one of those fast-forward-button sound effects — like, as if we’re saying, Hang on….. we’re about to take this WAY up into the future. To the present day.)

[FAST-FORWARD-BUTTON SOUND EFFECT INDICATING TIME TRAVEL]

A few weeks ago, I was actually just watching old tape of that 2001 ABCD game.

And you wanna know something funny? I played pretty well.

I say “funny,” though, because — I’ll tell you what: I doubt a single person in the gym that day even remembered a thing I did. Because on that day? Man…… pretty soon, all eyes were on the kid I was guarding. The “nobody.”

Was his last game being nobody, I’ll tell you that.

He did it all, and he did it all easy. That’s one of the things that sticks out to me, playing it back these years later. It was like the pressure we all felt….. he somehow didn’t feel it. He was just this whole other shade of cool. And then the other thing that sticks out to me, it’s maybe a little more obvious: dude’s game. He already had such a complete game. And I mean — we’re in a gym full of somebodies: athletes, shooters, dunkers. Future college stars. Future PROS. But only one guy in that gym that day had the complete package already. And looking back on it?? That was the camp that really put him on the national map.

By the end of the game, I asked my coach — well, I asked him the only question there was.

“Yo….. Coach….. who is this guy?”

And he just shook his head. Looked at me almost like his heart was breaking. Like he was about to sit me down and break the news that Santa wasn’t real.

“That,” he said, “is LeBron James.”

II. EXT. VARIOUS TORONTO LOCATIONS – DAY/NIGHT

My Toronto experience couldn’t be just one scene.

I mean….. how could ONE SCENE ever capture the process of growing up and becoming a man??

The truth is, my Toronto “moment” was more like a lot of little moments: a lot of shorter scenes (maybe soundtracked to a hot song?) with quick cuts — that come together and add up to something meaningful.

Wait….. I just described a montage.

O.K.

This is a MONTAGE.

Set it to Barenaked Ladies or something.

Perfect. Alright — now:

CUT TO: Rookie Chris. Still that quiet, lanky kid — but suddenly adjusting to a new country on top of everything else. I’m 19 and look it….. and act it. I move into my first apartment, go to my first hockey game, try something called “poutine.” People are super friendly. Everyone loves — loves — the Raptors, which, if I’m honest?? I did NOT expect. Didn’t know they had that ride-or-die hoops culture up North. But I learn fast. Oh, and I also learn what a loonie is? And maybe a word OR TWO of French?? Bonjour, y’all. Cool.

CUT TO: Snow.

CUT TO: Hold up, I’m on the same court as VINCE CARTER?? It’s my first training camp, and it’s Half-Man / Half-Amazing vs. ….. Half-Man. Vince yams on me in practice. “Welcome to the league, young fella,” and all that. UGLY. Purely ugly. But looking back, it’s to be expected: I’m still on that court acting starstruck, and meanwhile he’s on the court being Vince Carter. Whole thing is just surreal, man. Vince is tough on me, from the jump: I’m the team’s big draft pick, and he’s — you guessed it — VINCE. So he’s out there wanting to see what his new toy can do. But it’s also this blessing in disguise for me: That pressure from Vince….. like, it just pushes me to be more aggressive, and to prove myself right out of the gate.

Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

CUT TO: And then off the court? I mean, it’s a whole other Vince. Whole other guy. No yamming on me or nothing. Vince is just one of THE all-time great dudes in the league, and he goes out of his way to take me under his wing. Matter of fact, my rookie year, he actually comes over to my place for dinner a few times. We talk hoops, life….. everything. (Now imagine me telling my boys back home in Texas, a whole two years out of high school — that VINCE CARTER had just come over for dinner. You try playing it cool in that situation.)

CUT TO: More snow. (It snows in October??)

CUT TO: I’m in my apartment watching SportsCenter highlights, and man, it’s crazy: It’s pretty much all the other guys from my draft class. It’s LeBron, Melo, Dwyane, Josh Howard — and I’m telling you, these guys are thriving. Their teams are in or near the playoffs. They’re finding their groove. Meanwhile….. we just won 66 games!! Over my first two years, combined.

CUT TO: More snow. (It snows in April??)

CUT TO: O.K., O.K. Year four, we almost win 50. We make the playoffs (my first time); push the Nets to six games in our first-round series. I average 18 and 9. We’re starting to build something here.

CUT TO: More snow. (Nah, man, stop it with that.)

CUT TO: See how recently I was just talking about us “starting to build something”? — for real, though, that’s how it felt. It felt like one minute we were putting things together, and on the rise. And then the next minute….. it’s like I looked up at the calendar, and BOOM. Seven seasons with the Raptors, in my rearview mirror. Contract up. Time for me to make the first adult decision of my life. And I won’t lie….. time for me to move on. But I ONLY have love for Toronto, true love, and that’s no lie, either. I love that organization. I love those fans. I love the city. I love the culture. And I’ll tell you what, man — a part of me even came to love the snow.

III (A). INT. CONFERENCE-ROOM-LOOKIN-ASS CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

It’s August 2008. We’re at the Olympics in Beijing. It’s an off day before the finals against Spain, and me, Dwyane and LeBron meet secretly in one of our hotel rooms. Nobody knows what we’re up to. It’s real Ocean’s Eleven hours, man. Only instead of Clooney, Pitt and Damon — you’ve got these three dudes from the 2003 draft class. Free agency is two years away, but already we’re out here scheming. We’re hatching a plan.

We’re at the Olympics in Beijing. It’s an off day before the finals against Spain, and me, Dwyane and LeBron meet secretly in one of our hotel rooms.

Nah, I’m just playing.

That’s not what happened at all. But it’s funny: Enough people think that’s how our Big 3 came together, that — as long as we’re making a movie here — I kind of wish it was how it went down.

The real story is different, though. And if you ask me? It’s even better.

I took meetings with four different teams in the summer of 2010, and they all made impressive pitches. (Well…….. with the exception of one team, which I’ll just leave you to guess.) Seriously, though: I knew these organizations were coming for me, on full tilt — but I never thought their pitches would be that good, you know what I mean? I figured the answer of where I should sign would become obvious to me pretty quickly. But after every meeting I took, I was honestly just, like, I could see us doing something really special here.

And it’s a great spot to be in….. but it’s a tough spot, too. The thing that I think people get wrong about free agency is this idea that players know what to expect. That we’ve somehow “seen it all before,” and that the moment doesn’t get to us. But to be straight-up with you: I underestimated by a lot just how intense that process was going to be. By a lot.

But then there was one meeting that stood out above the rest.

There was one that was just different.

I knew it right when I saw my dad’s reaction after Pat Riley walked in. My dad had flown out to Chicago to sit in on the meetings with me. And it’s funny — he really isn’t one of those types of dads, at all. But I think he just wanted to see about it, you know? Like, Just let me see this crazy process up close at least once. So anyway it’s the two Bosh boys, chilling.….. and then Pat walks in.

And you have to understand something: For my dad, a grown man from the ’80s? Pat Riley was Showtime. Pat was Hollywood. Pat was The Man. And I’m exhausted, because it’s like the third meeting of the day for me. But as soon as Pat walks in the room? My dad shoots me this glance. Almost like he’s saying, Hey, son — show some respect. Show some respect for the aura.

Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesPat comes in. Everyone’s quiet. We shake hands and sit down. With the other teams, the pitches all took a similar format: They’d show their PowerPoint, swipe through some photos on an iPad. You know, like: Here you are in a photoshopped Nets uniform. [Swipe.] Or, Here you are on a giant photoshopped poster in front of the United Center. [Swipe.] That whole deal.

With Pat, though, it’s not about any PowerPoint thing, or any iPad thing.

It’s about a Pat thing.

It’s dead silent in the room when he starts into his pitch. You know — at first I thought maybe it was strange, because every other presentation had been from a coach. I didn’t really know how to take that. But then I’m looking at Spo, and I’m looking at Andy….. and they’re just kind of….. I’m not even sure how to explain it. It’s like they’re sitting there, listening to him — but not in some fake deferential way. Like in a good way. A respect way. It’s a respect thing. It’s Pat Riley, you know? And even though they’re with the organization, I think they still live for those Pat Riley Moments.

And he delivered, man.

With Pat, though, it’s not about any PowerPoint thing, or any iPad thing. It’s about a Pat thing.

Pat goes, “Alright, Chris — let me tell you something. I’ll make it simple.” He says the Heat have enough cap space to bring in me and LeBron, and also to keep Dwyane. Then he takes off his suit jacket, rolls up his sleeves, and empties something on the table.

HAHA! It’s a straight-up bagful of championship rings. Rolling around on the conference table, right in front of us. And then Pat looks at me, looks at my dad, and he says, “This right here…… this is what it’s about, guys.” (We’ll use that line in the trailer.)

Not quite Ocean’s Eleven: Beijing, I know. But Sinatra and his Rat Pack…. Clooney and Damon and Pitt…. y’all keep ’em. I’m not even trying to hear it. They ain’t got nothing on the real thing, man.

They ain’t got nothing on Riley.

III (B). INT. AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA – NIGHT

We won two.

Not many guys win one. We won two. We won two, and went back-to-back. That means we won ’em, and we came back, and we defended ’em. I’m proud of that. D-Wade and Bron and I — we came together with a lot of hype, a lot of expectations. And I think it was hard for a lot of people to really judge us fairly in the moment.

And believe me, I feel this too: It’s crazy to think — between Dwyane’s One Last Dance, and my jersey retirement — that we’re already in the “nostalgia phase” for those Heat teams. But we’re there. We’re there, no doubt.

And as people look back on that time, and those teams, with some distance, you know….. it’s just a hunch — but I think we’re going to get remembered a little more fondly than maybe we were while it was happening. Because at the time…… I mean, it was all hype, right?? We were on that Darth Vader Evil Empire wave. SUPER VILLAINS. But I think most folks now, removed a little from the moment, they see those Heat teams with clearer eyes.

And I think people are finally beginning to see that whole era, really, for all it was: three friends, coming together, to play basketball. That’s it, man. That’s it.

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

So that’s my piece on those years.

But to me, as far as this movie goes, they’re not even the biggest scenes. Why? Because they’re the part everyone knows. And that’s what great movies will do, the true classics: They’ll mess around with your expectations. When you think they’re going to zig? They zag. They keep you guessing. They never tell you anything you already know.

And in a weird way..…. I think everyone already knows everything they need to about those Heat years. Or at least they know the thing that matters most.

We won two.

IV. INT. HOSPITAL RADIOLOGY LAB – DAY

As they slide me into the MRI tube, I see two doctors behind the glass.

They’re looking at a computer, and talking to me on the overhead speaker. It’s scary, man. The machine does its thing, makes its noises — the whizzing and whirring, the whole deal.

When they slide me back out, there’s four doctors behind the glass. They’re huddling up….. like it’s real serious. Then another doctor comes in. Then another. I’m like, O.K. — that’s it. Let’s do this.

I get up and I open the door. “Yo. What’s the deal? What’s going ON?”

All six of the doctors look up at me at once, and you can see they’re kinda startled — like I’m that dude sneaking over to the other team’s timeout huddle. Eventually, one of the doctors points his hand at the computer screen. “See….. right there. That’s a blood clot.”

That’s a blood clot.

That’s a blood clot. That’s a blood clot. That’s a blood clot. I’m saying it in my head a few times. Blood clot. I’m thinking, O.K. Sounds….. well, I don’t know how it sounds. Bad, I guess?? But I’ll learn everything I can, and we’ll figure this thing out. I’ll be fine. It’s almost absurd to think about now, but at the time — in that moment? I remember thinking about how we’d just traded for Goran Dragić. No, for real, that’s where my head was at. It was focused on how we’re trying to turn our season around. I think I was like….. floating, back and forth, between shock and denial.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

And then one thing snapped me out of that real quick.

I called my wife.

I said the words blood clot out loud to her, and Adrienne, you know, she just……. wow. I’ll put it this way: Neither of us are doctors. But my wife?? She could play one on TV, man, NO problem. That’s how quick she is with the Google. She googles “blood clot,” and the timing of it was crazy — because Jerome Kersey, the former NBA forward, he had just died of blood clots. So my wife sees that, and she’s DONE with the basketball stuff. DONE with that Goran Dragić talk. She’s just like, “Chris, baby, you need to get with the program. NOW. This is serious.”

Next thing I know, I’m being wheeled to another room. They put an oxygen tube in my nose and give me blood thinner. Stick a needle in my chest just to drain my lung. They tell me I’ll be in the hospital for “at least a few more days.” But the uncertainty is crazy. Each day, I’m thinking, Will I go home today? Or will my machine just suddenly start beep-beep-beeping and….. O.K., then what?? What’s my timeline here?!

What’s my timeline?!

Of course, the question I asked the most ended up having the answer I wanted the least. And my timeline….. it wasn’t much of a timeline at all. A few days turned into a week.….. and then a week turned into two weeks. And then two weeks…… man.

Two weeks turned into my career.

V. EXT. SWIMMING POOL – DAY

Alright, so what’s the last scene going to be here.

It could easily be my retirement dinner, which we had at the end of March, the weekend before my jersey retirement ceremony. Adrienne did the most phenomenal job of setting everything up, filling that space with love, inviting my friends, my family…… just everyone, man. It was basically this one last beautiful night with my team. Not my basketball team; my team team. You know what I’m saying? Team Bosh. It was a time for reflection, a time for celebration. That was a special night.

It could also easily be my jersey retirement itself. You know, it’s funny: up to a certain point, on my way into the building that night, I think I was kind of playing this trick on myself — where I let myself get calmed by the routine of it all. Like, Oh, yeah, this is the same route I always took to the arena. Or, Same old parking spot. Or, Same great people on the Heat staff as when I was playing. I think acknowledging that routine was my way of guarding against the emotions of the evening….. of the idea that this really was the last time. It was almost this protective instinct.

But what I’m so grateful for? Is that as soon as I stepped onto the court, Heat Nation: y’all shook me right out of that instinct. The energy was WILD. It was like 20,000 people were out there….. with me, reminding me to savor the moment. You know what I’m saying?? It was like y’all were telling me, Nah, CB, we love you — but NOT TONIGHT. You don’t get to pull that Team Player routine tonight.

Tonight is about YOU.

As soon as I stepped onto the court, Heat Nation: y’all shook me right out of that instinct. The energy was WILD.

Honestly, man, out of all the gifts you fans have given me over the years…. I swear that one goes straight to the top of the list. Not only did you send me off right; you made sure I sent myself off right. I’ll always be grateful.

But you know what? As perfect as those two moments were — for this last scene here, I think I’m going to go with something a little more low-key.

I’m going to go with a moment from a couple of weeks before all of that.

It’s this conversation that I had about a month and a half ago with my dad.

My twins, their birthday is March 15th. So we had this little get-together at our home — kind of a pool party, you know, and they had all their friends over. And my dad came over, too. So the kids are all playing in the pool and whatnot….. and then it’s just my dad and I sitting by the deck. And we’re sitting there, and we’re laughing about how we’re the two old guys now: he’s 60; I’m about to turn 35.

Then there’s a little pause in the conversation.

And my dad, he turns to me — and he asks, “Son…… you ever seen yourself being 60?”

Man, that’s some question, right?

Bobby Metelus/Getty Images

I actually have, though, I tell him. I tell him I’ve been thinking a lot about back when he was my age. Because I was 10 when he was 35 — and my oldest, Trinity, she’s 10 now. So that means, in 25 years, when she’s my age….. well, her dad will be 60. Just like my dad is now.

And then there was another pause….. this longer pause. And I could tell we were both just sort of taking that in, you know? Just really taking it in, every part of it, and letting it sit there — letting it mean something.

After that, we went back to talking. Back to laughing, reminiscing, sharing stories, watching the kids. But it was that one moment in there, that I just can’t stop thinking about, you know what I mean? I can’t stop thinking about how, like, we live this life, and we race through it….. and we’re trying to reach these goals, and beat these expectations, and get from Point A to Point B….. and then you look back, and you add it all up? And suddenly life can seem pretty short. Life can seem like it’s moving by so fast: from moment to moment, scene to scene. So fast that you can start to feel like a visitor in your own story. Like a bit player in your own movie.

But then there are these other moments. These moments like the one I had by the pool. Where it’s my dad on one side of me, and my kids on the other. And I’m 35….. and I’ve played out this incredible career….. and I’ve married this amazing woman….. and I can trace out the steps, one by one: the steps from the life that my dad made for me, to the lives that I’m making now, right now, for my own kids…….. and it’s the strangest feeling. How suddenly everything is connected, all at once. Suddenly everything feels infinite.

Everything feels like it matters.

In 25 years, my dad’s going to be 85. My oldest daughter is going to be 35.

And I’m going to be 60.

Can you even imagine that?

Man, I’ll be honest — it might be time to call Spike. Because I think I finally can.

Chris Bosh
Miami Heat