Feb. 12, 2012
By Matt Winklejohn
– It was good to see Chris Bosh again Sunday night and better to watch him, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade bust on their rookie teammates in the locker room after the Heat crushed the Hawks.
That was funny at times.
Although you cannot say the brief visit qualified as a homecoming for Bosh — he played just one season (2002-’03) for Georgia Tech, after all — he sounded like he’d like to spend more time around his old stomping grounds.
Bosh hasn’t done much offseason work in Atlanta. He said, though, that he keeps tabs on former Tech players and might consider spending more time around them in his down time.
“I want to come back here a little bit more,” said the Dallas native. “Hopefully, in the future . . . the practice facility is beautiful, and hopefully I can use it.”
Bosh’s college coach is gone, but current Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory has extended what amounts to an open invitation to former Tech players to hang around the Zelnak Practice Facility in their down time. During the lockout, several took him up on the offer as they waited to go back to work.
Patience was required Sunday in order to speak with Bosh in Philips Arena as he was one of the last Heat to dress after Miami blitzed Atlanta 107-87.
He’d done yeoman’s work, grabbing a season-high 16 rebounds and pitching in 14 points as well as the Heat led by as many as 32 points in the third quarter.
There was fun to be had when it was all over.
As the Heat players were dressing, a relatively massive media crowd bunched round James while most — but not all — hacks and radio humps — respected Wade. He rarely speaks to reporters until he’s dressed, but somebody breeched the protocol and asked him a couple questions before he took the big ice bags off his knees.
With his feet still in a bucket of ice water, and while still in his shorts, he likely was in a good mood after scoring all 21 of his points in the first half as Miami boat-raced the Hawks on the way to a 63-41 lead.
Bosh, meanwhile, was barking, “T, get my bag, man!”
Terrel Harris, the rookie guard from Oklahoma State, didn’t appear to be playing along. Fellow rookie guard Norris Cole, from Cleveland State, was lockered right next to Bosh, after all. So, Harris said, “He’s a rookie, too; make him do it.”
No word on whether Bosh might like to give acting a try, but he might. He sure looked like he was mad during this sequence, all of which included some sort of weird ritual during which Cole leaned in and took a deep breath after Bosh sprayed a cloud of what apparently was cologne (or something to that effect).
When asked what Miami coach Erik Spoelsta meant when he’d told reporters a few minutes earlier that his team had just played about as close to its “identity” at both ends of the floor as perhaps it had all season, Bosh said he’d heard that term before.
“Over, and over, and over,” he said with a roll of his eyes.
The big guy smiled, and offered an explanation.
He’s in a good spot, surrounded not only by two ridiculously talented teammates and fellow Olympians, but a roster of men who seem comfortable in their roles.
Averaging 19.2 points (on 50.1 percent shooting) and 8.2 rebounds, he’s having a solid season, and has not seen any protracted stretches were he looked like a third wheel. That happened some last season, the first for the, “Big Three,” in Miami.
There’s seems to be more connectivity than the Heat had a year ago; the vibe is more commonly shared. James has spent some time, not a lot, in Bosh’s power forward spot. That’s left him in a position to, uh, counsel?
“He’s played the four position a little bit. Usually when he’s at the four, he just plays like he normally plays . . . we’re just moving the ball to make it tough for teams to really set their defense,” he explained. “It’s not like he’s coming to me as if I’m a wise man. Really, everything is interchangeable. We run the offense every day. It’s sickening how much we run it. Over and over and over.”
Bosh isn’t able to keep complete tabs on the Jackets, but he tries.
He was aware of it the other day with former Techster Anthony Morrow scored a career-high 42 points for the Nets.
“It’s kind of hard to find time to watch college sports, but I do keep up with them,” he said. “It’s talked about in the locker room. We have a few ACC guys [Duke’s Shane Battier, and Miami’s James Jones] so it’s a conversation.
“[Several former Tech players] keep tabs on each other, and it’s good to see guys do well. Even though we didn’t play with each other, we still feel that sense of pride and we try to keep some sort of unity because we do have something in common.”
Time was running short by this point.
After fielding questions from 790 The Zone’s Chris Dimino about how the current U.S. Olympic team core might stack up against the Dream Team of 1992 (he did a masterful job of deferring to the 20-year-old squad without saying that that team would beat him, Wade, James, Kobe and their contemporaries), it was time to catch a bus.
James and Wade were at the door, LeBron with a big set of headphones cocked oddly on his noggin while he wore an enormous pair of horn-rimmed glasses. Wade was grinning. Bosh was styling in an impressive tweed jacket over a slick flannel shirt.
He looked impeccably happy. There’s a great vibe in his work place so apparently he wasn’t as surprised as I was to see James and Wade ripping on teammate Mario Chalmers. He is, after all, no rookie; he’s in his fourth NBA season.
“Rio, go get me something to drink,” Wade said.
Again, Bosh smiled.
Everybody on his team seems to know his place. He’s in a really good place, and his role in shaping the Heat’s identity is a big one.
That was evidenced when he scored 33 points with 14 rebounds and five assists when Miami won 116-109 in Atlanta in triple overtime on Jan. 5 — with Wade and James sideline by injuries.