MIAMI -- The Heat's other All-Star is an unusual creature in this world of muscle and machismo. Honest. Introspective. Vulnerable. Chris Bosh really seems to enjoy questions, and thinking. His way of being, everything from his frame to his game, gets him called soft by the meatheads, but he shrugs his sinewy shoulders, confident in who he is, and asks you what the hell that even means.
Long legs crossed, he likes to read books in the locker room. When looking back on his time here, what he expected versus what he received, he says things like, "You don't really know the sacrifices you are making until you are actually making them."
It is very hard not to like him.
He collapsed in the hallway in tears upon the completion of last season, still in uniform, and had to be carried the rest of the way by teammates. That was the punctuation on the craziest year of his life, and he did not sleep for days after that, nights haunted by all the other things he could have, should have, would have done. He says the idea of losing hadn't even dawned on him until it came crashing down upon him like a thousand anchors, such is the confidence a man must have to be great in a world as cutthroat and competitive as his. Doubt becomes prey in his jungle, so failure got there before doubt, and the whole thing made all 6-11 of him collapse.
You never considered the possibility of losing to Dallas?
"Hell no," he says. "Hell no. All we thought was, 'This is ours.' "
The Heat is playing the best basketball in the world at the moment, aggressive and cruel, winning eight in a row by double digits, poor novelty Jeremy Lin the latest to get trampled by Miami's angry zeal. It is only the best basketball this franchise has ever played. Remember that loud introduction, amid the smoke and music, when Bosh turned around screaming and flexing to face his new fans? Up there on that stage, it can be told now, Bosh thought Miami's entire season was going to feel like the last eight Heat games.
"You don't anticipate the downs," he says. "You are just thinking of the ups."
He smiles at himself, at what a fool he was.
"I was a bit ignorant about how hard it was because I had never been out of the first round," he says.
You thought it would be easy?
"It wasn't that I thought it would be easy," he says. "It is just that I didn't know it was going to be that hard."
"Sacrifices" is a relative term in this playground for millionaires, but Bosh has made some legitimate ones. When Dwyane Wade was out recently, Bosh starred, getting shots and glory, putting up huge numbers, but he realizes how empty vanity is. The old him has matured too much to be attracted to the things that sparkled for the young him. He once made a funny YouTube video soliciting All-Star votes while wearing a cowboy hat in Toronto. Now he boards a team plane for his sport's highest honor and, with gratitude, calls this weekend "work." Business trip.
"Every now and then people forget and act like I'm not a good player, and it is nice to remind them," he says. "But that has nothing to do with what we're trying to accomplish here."
He was single upon arriving in Miami and immediately got engaged. He was asked why in the world he would do that, with all the beautiful temptation and fame coming his way, and he said because he had a father at home and very much wanted to become one himself. His wife is seven months pregnant, and he is about as happy as he has ever been.
"This is the vision; this is what we came here for," he said after dispatching Lin and the Knicks. "Can't breathe yet, though.
"Can't breathe until it is over, and we're holding the trophy."
Chris Bosh, who plays for the hottest basketball team in the world, is a man who knows exactly what he wants.
Very clearly, he can see it from here.