By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Fine, we give up. Harvest Bosh's stem cells, freeze his DNA, clone 100 of him and let's get on with amassing the perfect master race.
"Wait, I thought of something," Joel says. "Corny jokes. He's always telling those stupid jokes that make you groan. He actually thinks they're funny."
So the case against Chris Bosh begins and ends at "Knock knock..." At Phelps, personalities from Bosh's past, present and future agree that he's almost too good to be true.
Lincoln High School principal Earl Jones: "He was never in my office, not one time. Actually, I had him talk to freshmen who would run into trouble, because Chris had such a calming effect on everyone."
Agent Henry Thomas: "From the moment he stepped onto an NBA court he's been mature, thoughtful and articulate beyond his years. You just don't see kids at his age getting so involved, so committed, so enthusiastic with charity work."
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell: "He's one of the best guys on the court and one of the best guys in the locker room. The type of special kid you dream about building a franchise around."
Financial advisor Jeff Wiseman: "To have that kind of money at that age, he's extremely level-headed. I haven't yet had to talk him out of some silly impulse shopping spree."
As Bosh's bash moves inside the gymnasium, his legend grows.
Capping a year in which his foundation funded two free basketball camps, stocked Phelps' computer center with 12 computers and offered free, two-week SAT prep courses to 50 students, Bosh put the finishing touches on today's $25,000 expenditure. Through a random drawing five kids win computers. Lincoln, Phelps and South Central are awarded $1,000 checks. And everyone with enough patience to endure a line that snakes around the gym will walk out with a new pair of Converse.
"When I was young we just went to plain ol' camp. Just camp camp," says Bosh, now panning the packed bleachers with his video camera. "That's why this is so important to me. I want kids to remember this. And want to come back again and again."
Because he plays in friggin', freezin' Canada and because NBA training camps start next week, it's likely this is the last time Dallas can embrace Bosh before his Raptors visit American Airlines Center November 29. And because he's only a really good player lost in a really great draft class, it's likely Bosh will remain our secret just a little while longer.
"In order to become a superstar he needs to get to the playoffs," says Thomas, who also represents the Mavericks' Devin Harris and NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade. "To become a household name, he needs to perform on the big stage."
Even with the Raptors set on a world domination that would make The Family Guy's Stewie skeptical, Bosh won't get that chance any time soon. Or will he?
Instead of playing out his contract and next summer becoming one of the league's most coveted free agents, Bosh on July 14 signed an extension that will keep him in Toronto through at least 2011.
"I want to win an Olympic gold medal and maybe some individual awards down the line," says Bosh, the only player among the top five picks of the '03 NBA Draft yet to make it to the postseason. "But right now I just want to get the Raptors to the playoffs. That's as far as I can look."
After one terrific, teasing year at Georgia Tech, Bosh entered the NBA Draft as a skinny 19-year-old void of power or a true position. In what is already viewed as the most dynamic draft in league history, the Raptors picked Bosh fourth overall, three spots after LeBron James went to Cleveland and sandwiched between Denver selecting Carmelo Anthony and Wade falling to Miami.
Initially a gangly rookie lost in an obscure market, Bosh has blossomed into--scooch over a bit, Steve Nash--Captain Canada.
"Here in Dallas he kind of knows where to go to stay under the radar," McClinton says. "But in Toronto he gets mobbed every time he steps out his front door."
Though baptizing Bosh with a coaching change and two general manager switches in his first three seasons, the Raptors, who've acquired players custom-selected to complement his talent, are about to hand their new alpha dawg the keys to the franchise. The kid without street cred is becoming a poster boy. "Chris has been a great follower," Mitchell says. "Now he's ready to be a great leader."
At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Bosh is still a small forward trapped in a power forward's body. Considering he was an All-Star last season and joined Houston Rockets center Yao Ming as the only players to average 22 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line, perhaps "trapped" isn't all that appropriate.