The 2018 Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame class includes All-Americans Steven Blackwood (baseball), two-time NBA champion and Olympic medalist Chris Bosh (basketball), veteran NFL defensive lineman Michael Johnson, Adriane Lapsley Butler (track and field), Kristi Miller-North (tennis) and Chan Song (golf), as well as longtime athletics fundraiser Jack Thompson.
Tickets are on sale for the annual Induction Dinner on Sept. 21 (reception at 6 p.m., dinner and program at 7 p.m.) at $125 each through Aug. 15, $150 after Aug. 15. They can be purchased online (click here), and questions about the dinner and tickets can be directed to Barb Dockweiler (email@example.com) in the Alexander-Tharpe Fund.
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Decision-making is one of Chris Bosh’s strengths.
The Dallas, Texas, native has always shown a knack for making the right choice, on the court, obviously, but was as instinctively adept off it. Whether it was choosing to attend college at Georgia Tech — a decision he calls one of the easiest decisions of his life — or deciding to leave the Flats after a spectacular freshman season to capitalize on the opportunity to play in the NBA — a choice he calls one of his toughest.
Texas’ High School Player of the Year (Basketball America) and its “Mr. Basketball” after leading Lincoln High School to the Class 4A state title as a senior, Bosh planned to enjoy the college experience. But after one season, he chose enter the NBA Draft. He was selected fourth overall and spent the next 13 years in the League — the first seven seasons in Toronto, the final six with the Miami Heat. At 6-11, 230-something, Bosh would become one of the game’s elite power forwards, combining two-guard quickness with deft moves in the paint and a reliable three-point shot. He’d win two NBA championships and an Olympic Gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. He also remained fiercely loyal to Georgia Tech and was a natural selection for the school’s Sports Hall of Fame — an honor the ultra-modest Bosh never saw coming.
THE GOOD WORD: Where were you when you found out about your selection to the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame Class?
CHRIS BOSH: I was actually driving. (Associate AD/Administration & Finance) Marvin Lewis texted me. We talk constantly, so I called him. He said, ‘You’re going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.’ I really didn’t expect it. I just always thought about playing basketball and carrying on as a human being. It was especially special, because Marvin was my roommate back then, and my other roommate, Jarrett Jack, got inducted last year. I didn’t really see myself in contention. You really don’t think about things like that. They just kind of happen. But I’m super-excited. I’m like, ‘Okay, Marvin and the President (Peterson) call me. That’s great!’ (laughs) Being in the Hall of Fame with a lot of great names who not only have been great contributors to their sport but also the school and humanity overall, it’s a great thing to be honored in the tradition of the school.
TGW: You had plenty of suitors coming out of high school. What made you choose Georgia Tech?
Bosh: They didn’t make any fancy pitches and that was what I liked! I wasn’t really looking for the glitz or the glamor — not that Georgia Tech didn’t have it — but I wasn’t impressed by those things. What I was looking for was to come into a situation where I could play right away. It was a chance to play in the ACC. In 2002, there were already about six or seven McDonald’s All-Americans that were going to be in that conference so that made me excited about the competition. Then I knew Jarrett Jack was a good point guard. Getting to team up with a good point guard was very important to me as well, because I’m a big and that big-point guard relationship is super-crucial. They just had everything that I was looking for and it FELT right. I always go based off of gut-feeling. Even at that age, it felt right. Georgia Tech actually was the only official visit that I took. I knew as soon as I went there I wanted to go to school there. I remember calling Coach (Paul) Hewitt right after we landed home. I let my mother and my father know that’s where my heart was, and that’s where I wanted to play basketball and go to school.
The 2002-03 season saw the Jackets go 16-15, 7-9 in the ACC (fifth), then advance to the quarterfinals of the NIT. Bosh led the team scoring (15.6 points), rebounding (9.0 rebounds), shooting percentage (an ACC-best .560 — he’s one of two freshmen ever to lead the conference in that category) and blocks (also an ACC-high 2.2 blocks per game). He was named ACC Freshman of the Year and earned second-team All-ACC honors and Freshman All-America honors.
TGW: What do you remember about your great freshman year?
Bosh: That experience, honestly, was one of the hardest of my life. There were lessons and hardships that I still remember to this day. Learning to be a student-athlete was so hard. It’s like you have two jobs. You have to pass and stay active in class, then you also have to do what you’re supposed to do on the court, be on time for that, be in the weight room. It was kind of difficult to find that balance at first. Coach Hewitt pushed us so hard in practice that the games were easy and fun, as long as you’re winning. That was another tough part, we weren’t winning as much. It was a learning experience, but I learned a ton of lessons in that year I was there.
Following the ‘02-03 season, Bosh came to a fork in the road — stay at Georgia Tech or go to the NBA. After some soul searching, he chose the pro route. It paid off, as he was selected fourth in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. He’d play 13 years in the League, the first seven years in Toronto, where he’d become the face of the franchise, and the final six in Miami, including a four-year run (2010-14) where he, LeBron James, who went first in the ‘03 Draft, and Dwyane Wade, who went at No. 5, got to four straight NBA Finals, winning two. Bosh’s rookie season was made more emotionally mixed, as Georgia Tech advanced to the Final Four in San Antonio, reaching the championship game before falling to Connecticut.
TGW: How difficult was your decision to leave Georgia Tech?
Bosh: It was super-difficult. The NBA was my goal, but my intention, honestly, was to be in school at least two years and go from there. But the call came a little earlier and it surprised me. I was just starting to enjoy school. I remember having a conversation with Jarrett and all my roommates about what I should do. They told me, ‘What the heck are you thinking about?!?’ Being a top-5 pick made the decision easier. It’s just not easy to actually grasp it and follow through.
Chris Bosh Hall of Fame highlight reel
TGW: How difficult was the transition not only to the NBA, but to a new country?
Bosh: I think my freshman year got me ready for my rookie year, which was two very difficult years in a row. Canada was definitely a culture shock. That on top of the competition, playing with grown men, you realize that you’re still a kid, there’s another level and even more levels on top of that.
TGW: What were your emotions watching the Jackets have the success they had?
Bosh: Watching Georgia Tech be so successful that year was very hard because the Raptors didn’t do very well. I was just trying to get through my stuff. I was happy to see somebody happy playing basketball. I was watching friends having the time of their lives. They’re doing those things you dreamed of as an aspiring college basketball player — going to the (NCAA) Tournament, playing on the big stage in the Final Four. I would call Jarrett every day, almost, and I even went to the Final Four. It was a good time to be a Yellow Jacket.
TGW: How satisfying was it to help Toronto turn things around and become the face of the franchise?
Bosh: It was kind of the same thing as with Georgia Tech. I didn’t expect to be put in that situation so quickly and have that responsibility at such a young age, but it’s kind of what we ask for, it’s kind of what we dream of as an athlete. It was cool at first, then you have consistent success night in and night out, which draws attention to you. With that attention comes responsibility. You’re expected to do well every night. You’re expected to be an All-Star.
TGW: What was it like playing in Miami with LeBron and D-Wade and being the rock stars that you were?
Bosh: That’s one of those other levels I was talking about. Even in that first year we were getting everybody’s best shot. Those first couple of months it was really rough, because we were still jelling as a team. We were infamous at the time, not famous. That makes a huge difference. We had to get used to that. But to have that experience and have that mark in the League, to have that moment in time, that’s all you can really ask for.
After 13 years, which included 11 All-Star Game appearances, 893 games (starting all but 12) played, 17,189 points and nearly 7,600 rebounds, Bosh was forced to the sidelines due to potentially life-threatening blood clots. He’s on the comeback trail, a trail he hopes includes Georgia Tech.
TGW: How are you feeling? What are your plans as far as returning to the NBA and beyond that?
Bosh: My health is great. Playing basketball is still an aspiration of mine. We just moved out to Austin, Texas. So once my family gets situated, I can start concentrating more on playing basketball again. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll figure out that next step in my life. Either way I’m happy. If it’s a wrap, then I’ve had a good run. If it’s not then, we can put some more icing on the cake.
TGW: Coach (Josh) Pastner is big on getting alumni involved in the basketball program. Could you see yourself as an ambassador for Georgia Tech?
Bosh: Absolutely! I definitely want to connect with the school. I’ve always been big into education, big into technology. I would like to have some sort of connection, maybe be able to exchange ideas, connect with the youth that’s coming out of the school, because they’re going to dictate where the future’s going.
TGW: Who have you asked to introduce you?
Bosh: I asked both Coach Hewitt and (former assistant coach) Dean Keener. They have stories from when I was 17 years old and they were recruiting me. I wanted them to share those stories.
TGW: Have you thought about what you’ll say in your speech?
Bosh: I always love going from the heart and however I feel at the time that’s what I’ll lay out there. It’s worked out pretty good. I might as well go into the Hall being myself, right? (laughs)