Jan. 30, 2018
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
– Spend five and a half minutes with Chris Bosh, and stack that time on top of institutional knowledge and you can confirm suspicion: he’s a Georgia Tech man, even if he spent but one year as a Yellow Jacket.
He’s an almost impossibly long and lean explorer, a 6-foot-11 seeker of more.
Can you believe that the 13-year NBA veteran, who won two titles and made 11 All-Star teams, is working overtime to learn to play the guitar? Bosh is dialed in on works of the late Tom Petty, although Chris hasn’t run down his dream.
At least not yet.
He wanted to be a computer scientist, or a pro basketball player, and those ambitions led him to choose Tech out of Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas, when Bosh could have played college ball just about anywhere.
Basketball, and a sporting career that’s been worth a couple hundred million dollars, got in the way of computer coding glory for the 33-year-old.
He wasn’t at Tech long, but hey, a rocket doesn’t spend much time on its launching pad. The Institute lifted him, though, and it was no surprise that Bosh was happy to be back on The Flats Sunday to be honored at McCamish Pavilion, where some 2,000 fans received his replica jersey.
— Georgia Tech Sports (@GTAthletics) January 28, 2018
— Todd Stansbury (@GTToddStansbury) January 28, 2018
“It’s a weird thing. I thought I’d still be playing basketball right now,” Bosh said about an hour before signing autographs. “That was always my goal; to play 18-20 years in the league. That’s on hold right now in year 15. It’s a great experience so far. I’m just psyched.
“Guys that retired have jersey nights. To get to participate and draw awareness to Georgia Tech basketball is a great thing. I’m very excited.”
Bosh was a high-end student at Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas, when former Tech coach Paul Hewitt came calling upon a member of the National Honor Society.
The young man leaned toward technology on the way to earning several national high school player-of-the-year honors, and Bosh chose to attend Georgia Tech to chase dreams. Before making his decision, with his high school team ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Oak Hill Academy, he split his sport interests.
“The day Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl was a bittersweet day for me. I’d made a bet with my friend that the Patriots would lose, so we watched the game closely … but something else was on my mind,” he wrote on the website that bears his name. “I knew that Oak Hill was going out west to play Mater Dei and if there was any day that they were going to lose, this was the day.
“I sat there tirelessly in front of my desktop computer, continuously hitting refresh to get updates on the score . . . We couldn’t even get internet without a dial tone. After hitting refresh for the hundredth time, I saw that Oak Hill had actually lost their game and I was no longer upset about losing that Super Bowl bet.”
The Tigers were eventually tabbed national champions. He loved basketball, and he loved technology. Soon afterward, he was a Jacket.
“At the time, academics was very important to me, very near and dear to my heart,” he said Sunday. “I was very aggressive about being a student-athlete. Georgia Tech appealed to that …
“This was the only official visit I took … I knew right away. It was one of those things, kind of like when I knew I was going to marry my wife (Adrienne). I didn’t want to go anywhere else. At the time, I thought I could be a computer science major and play basketball.”
The Jackets were boilerplate in Bosh’s lone season with the team in 2002-03.
He was nearly sublime, leading Tech in scoring (15.6), rebounding (9.0) and blocked shots (2.0) while becoming just the second freshman to lead the ACC in shooting percentage (.560).
A memory stands out: Tech’s 83-77 win over No. 17/18 Georgia in AMC.
“That was big game. I think they were ranked. It was the [second] game of the year. It was home game. It was a very electric atmosphere, the whole rivalry between the schools. You got the history right away, the lesson, from football.
“And then to play them so early in basketball, we had a sold-out crowd. There was a buzz. That was a cool moment. We struggled after that … we didn’t realize we had more work to do.”
Bosh, his roommate and fellow freshman guard Jarrett Jack, and the Jackets flashed promise that season, going 13-2 in old Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where they beat No. 8 Maryland 90-84.
The Jackets were 3-13 away from AMC, however, and nobody could have predicted the next season — which Bosh would miss while working in the cold.
#YellowJackets I’ll be in town for the @gtmbb game this Sunday (Jan 28th) for my replica jersey night! Looking forward to seeing some new and familiar faces. Read about my transition from @GeorgiaTech to the @NBA on https://t.co/8xKXV6hR1u pic.twitter.com/mUTEGyJyID
NBA scouts predicted greatness for Bosh.
Once they told him that he would be a top-four pick in the 2003 NBA draft if he opted to leave school, he jumped.
Sure enough, the NBA draft opened with Cleveland selecting LeBron James, Detroit picking Darko Milicic, Denver tabbing Carmelo Anthony, Toronto taking Bosh and Miami snagging Dwayne Wade.
Bosh’s rookie season north of the border was relatively miserable but for the paychecks. He’s earned north of $200 million as a basketball player, and is still being paid more than $25 million per year by the Miami Heat despite not playing the past two seasons because of issues with blood clotting.
He played a lot as a rookie, and pretty well, starting 63 games and playing in 75 of 82. But it hurt. Bosh averaged 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots, but Toronto lost 24 of its final 32 games after a .500 start over 50 games, the Raptors came nowhere close to making the playoffs.
As he toiled in the cold, Georgia Tech beat Kansas in an NCAA regional final to punch a ticket to the Final Four, where the Jackets beat Oklahoma State and landed in the national championship game against Connecticut.
The erstwhile teenager — Tech beat Kansas on March 28, 2004; Bosh had turned 20 four days earlier — was conflicted.
“It’s a good word. It’s fair. I knew in my heart that I made the right decision, but I didn’t want to be there because I was homesick, it’s 15 degrees outside, we just got beat and I’m watching my friends cut down the nets going to the Final Four,” he recalled.
“I remember being at home … we had just gotten smashed by the Celtics. We were supposed to win. The season’s getting worse, and I remember being so happy and then so sad. I was like, `Yeah!’ And then, `wait a minute.’ That is what I dreamed about, and what I talked about, and me and Jarrett talked about. I was so proud, but at the same time I was dealing with my struggles.”
Many things work out from there for the lefthander.
Bosh played seven seasons with the Raptors, becoming Toronto’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks and double-doubles before departing in 2010 to join Wade and James with the Heat.
They went to the NBA Finals four consecutive years, losing the first time to his hometown Dallas Mavericks, winning a couple titles, and then falling to the San Antonio Spurs.
After moving to Miami, this man married, became a champion, a multi-time father, and started the Chris Bosh Foundation, which promotes reading among children in Miami and Toronto.
He still has a residence in Miami, and spends summers in Los Angeles, where he lives in the Santa Monica Mountains, and maintains ties with his Georgia Tech family.
“Coach Hewitt (now a Los Angeles Clippers scout), we went to Clippers game last month. We try to have dinner at least once a year,” Bosh said. “[Assistant] coach [Dean] Keener, I still speak with him, Jarrett, speak with him, B.J., re-connecting with him and Will Bynum, Mario West, Isma’il Muhammed … we keep in touch. Robert Brooks, too. It’s a great thing.”
Bosh’s blood clotting issues do not similarly.
His 2014-15 season — the first after James left Miami to re-join the Cavs, and the first after Bosh signed a five-year, $118 million contract extension with the Heat — was interrupted by a left calf injury.
Although he returned to play, clotting issues eventually sidelined him once more that season, and again in 2015-16.
Speculation among medical professionals suggests that the clotting issues may have come from the calf injury — a deep bruise — that was compounded by all the flying time that comes with being a professional basketball player. Flying time is not good for human circulation.
He missed all of last season, when he failed his physical with the Heat, who may have been mindful that former Portland Trail Blazers standout Jerome Kersey died of a blood clotting issue that began with a bruised left calf.
Bosh is still being paid by the Heat, and he will again gross more than $25 million next season, although he came off of Miami’s accounting books last year when the NBA ruled that his medical condition made him ineligible to be considered a player.
He hasn’t said that he’s giving up on the idea of playing again.
Even if he doesn’t, his move to Miami was ultra-famous, and he’ll be long remembered.
And in Bosh’s mind, his short time at Tech was no less epic than his NBA career, even though he cut college short to craft a career.
It was uncomfortable, but it was the right thing to do, for him, at the time.
“There were all these transitions in one year [from high school], and then one year later,” he said Sunday in the Whack Hyder room at Georgia Tech. “That was one of the reasons that it was very tough dealing with it because I was finally getting a handle on it.
“I know how to be a college student, a student-athlete, and then it was time to make a decision. It happened so fast, but everything happens for a reason. It’s played out pretty good.”