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Miami Heat All-Star Chris Bosh has always been thought of as a thoughtful type, and thoughtful types aren't highly regarded in professional sports. Even in pro basketball, where individual personalities are encouraged to distinguish themselves from the pack, straying too far from your typical meathead ideals is frowned upon. Stomp on a few heads and demand a contract extension, sure; you're a warrior, man. Carefully consider the end of a trying season, and let the emotion get the best of you? Prefer jump shots to bashing in the post, because genetics demand that you boast the height of an All-Star power forward but the frame of a point guard? You're probably a big softie.
In a fantastic interview with ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, Bosh addresses his longtime reputation while rehabbing his painful recent abdominal strain. And in a fantastic show of clarity and bravery, he quickly defends being "caught" breaking down in tears following Miami's Game 6 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last year in the NBA Finals, the culmination of a long, frustrating, and very nearly triumphant season.
"To people who made fun of it, I thought it was messed up," Bosh says of his tearful meltdown. "It meant that much to me.
"What are your dreams?" Bosh asks. "What do you want the most out of anything in this world? Dangle it in front of you, work hard as hell to get it, and then take it away. Gone."
How anyone can disagree with a take like this is beyond us. You can qualify the emotion by pointing out that it wasn't exactly as if the Heat lost suddenly on a last second shot to those Mavericks, and that the team entered Game 6 down 3-2 and knowing that it could end that very night — but Game 6 was supposed to tie it all up. And Game 7 was supposed to result, with the Heat playing at home, and the Heat were supposed to win the championship that 11 months prior they had been designed to bring to Miami.
Instead, it ended. And in the moment, when it hits, the emotion is overwhelming.
We don't want to quote too much more, because this is a tremendous feature from Haberstroh that you really should read, but we would like to pick out the part where Chris directly takes on that "soft" label that has dogged him since Vince Carter criticized the drafting of Bosh all the way back in 2003.
"It doesn't have anything with being tough or being soft," Bosh says. "I truly believed that we were going to win it. And in that moment, I just thought about everything, all those things we went through, you're very vulnerable. I gave everything I had. All your feelings, all your energy, you put everything out there. And you come up short. It was a hell of an experience just to be hurt."
You're probably a bit softer if you decline to care. If the end of the season, coming so close to a ring after years of lottery-bound futility in Toronto, doesn't drive you to the ends of your emotional realm? Now that sounds soft to me. Sounds like you're not fully engaged, and if you can't be fully engaged on a basketball team with championship potential? Then you shouldn't be wanted.
If we had a team, we'd want Bosh. And the Heat, as they prepare to take on the Boston Celtics for a chance to return to those Finals, also want him back. Bosh's abdominal strain possibly means he won't be at one hundred percent until the season ends, whenever it ends, and he'll probably hear the same whispers if he attempts to play through the debilitating injury and is less than his usual self in the box score.
And those whispers will come from people with ridiculous expectations.
Keep talking, and not whispering, Chris.