The Reinvention of Chris Bosh

"That's the venom," Bosh says. "For a while, they were questioning my sexuality. They still do. They were questioning my sexuality, questioning my game. And I'm like, 'Why are they all messing with me?' I didn't do anything to anybody. I didn't do nothing. I just came here to play basketball. And they're like, 'Oh, he's not a real superstar.' I never cared about being a superstar."

When he doesn't come down with a rebound, "Christina Bosh" floods his Twitter mentions. He was nicknamed "Bosh Spice." Someone dunked on him? What a woman.

"What am I supposed to do?" Bosh says. "You want me to have cornrows and tats on my neck and just punch somebody in the face when they score on me? It's crazy. It's impossible. I can't do that and play. That's never been who I am."

Bosh cares. Sometimes too much. He has spent much of his career trying to prove his doubters wrong, but it often only made things worse. Bosh rose to stardom in his third year with the Toronto Raptors, putting up gaudy scoring and rebounding totals that young players strive for, the kind that made him a permanent fixture on the Eastern Conference's All-Star roster. But playing for teams that hovered around the .500 mark left the big man without LeBron-level flair to his game in relative obscurity north of the border. To appease critics ahead of a contract year in 2010, he bulked up and became the only NBA player that season to average 24 points and 10 rebounds.

"Nobody cared," Bosh says. "Even when I lived in the paint. I put up 24 and 10 in Toronto and lost and people complained. I put up 18 and 8 here and win and people still complain."

The pain from the 2010-11 season forced Bosh to come to grips with a sober realization: He was never going to be a fan favorite. No matter what he did, he was never going to win the adoration of the average NBA viewer. So he opted for a more fulfilling lifestyle, one in which he could revel in his differences.

"After that, it changed me," Bosh says. "Man, I'm just going to be myself. I shouldn't have to apologize for that. If people don't understand that, then they don't understand it. I'm not going to try to be somebody I'm not."

Bosh gave up the fight. Instead, he dedicated himself to winning over those closest to him: his family, his team and his friends. After the first season, he blocked out the noise and stopped watching the sports pundits, and the only NBA articles he read were ones that his father or wife forwarded his way. Winning over his team meant playing defense, stretching the floor, doing the little plays that don't show up in the box score, only in scouting reports and advanced stats.

It meant saying goodbye to the "CB4" identity that made him an All-Star in Toronto and fully embracing "CB1," which made him a champion in Miami.

"Now it's different," Bosh says. "Everybody's like, 'We need CB4.' And I'm like, that's dead. He's dead. He's not coming back. This is me. I can't hold on to the past and think I'm going to be who I was back then. It's impossible. Because I'm much better now."

EXERCISING THE MIND

Chris Bosh is coding.

He is leaning back in a deck chair, arms outstretched on his patio table that faces a sea of turquoise. From here, it's hard to tell where Bosh's infinity pool ends and the dancing waters of Biscayne Bay begin. He tries to stay focused, but a splash in the distance distracts him.

"Oh," Bosh says. "A dolphin."

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