Garnett absence makes Bosh a starter

September 15, 2009, 5:58 AM

THE CANADIAN PRESS

NEW ORLEANS — Chris Bosh certainly made no secret of how badly he wanted to be a starter on the Eastern Conference squad for this year’s NBA all-star game.

His YouTube plea for votes — in the role of a trashy Texas car salesman — said it all.

The Toronto Raptors forward was granted his wish Saturday morning when he was inserted into the starting lineup in place of the injured Kevin Garnett.

While the honour didn’t quite come about as originally planned, being the replacement for another player, Bosh was all smiles as the East team practised ahead of the annual all-star showcase Sunday.

"I think it’s great," Bosh said. "It means a lot. I wanted to start coming into this thing, I think everybody could figure that out by the video and everything. It’s cool. I’m really excited."

Bosh finished third in voting among Eastern Conference forwards behind Garnett and LeBron James, and after the Celtics star pulled out with an abdominal strain, Bosh was the obvious choice to replace him.

"Because of the Canadian dollar — you know, it’s grown in value, and so we figure we’d go with (Bosh)," quipped Eastern Conference coach Doc Rivers of the Celtics.

"No, I think he deserves it, I really do. I think he’s terrific, a terrific player, and I think he deserves more attention than he’s getting, so I think he should start."

Bosh, who’s averaging 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, was originally named to the team as a reserve this year after being voted in as a starter last year.

He’ll take the floor in Sunday’s game alongside James, Orlando Magic centre Dwight Howard and guards Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

The all-star honour means plenty to Bosh, who’s seldom in the spotlight compared to most of his fellow all-stars.

"I don’t have much hype behind me, I never did and I pretty much create it for myself right now," Bosh said. "Given the situations that I’m in, I just have to take advantage and hopefully I will be a household name."

And rather than waiting for the spotlight to find him, the Raptors captain is grabbing it and turning it on himself. It all began with the hilarious all-star plea in which he played a used-car salesman hocking votes, with a cameo from his brother Joel — or "Bubba."

The video wound up being shown on sports broadcasts around North America to rave reviews.

"I thought that would be a pretty attractive way to make people laugh and get my point across at the same time," Bosh said. "I formulated that from watching TV, I saw commercials like that and I wanted to put something out there like that.

"I was surprised about the reaction," he added. "I was expecting a reaction, but not as big. I think it really exceeded my expectations, I was just trying to do something pretty funny and the minute it got out people got a hold of it and really played it."

Bosh isn’t done. While he may have retired the car salesman for now, his latest YouTube character, which can also be seen on www.chris-bosh.com, is Blane Harrington, an uptight English reporter, dressed in a red bowtie and thick glasses, held together with tape.

"I evolve with the characters, I’m not going to keep the same characters out there," he said. "I think I’ll continue to make new ones and if I get writers block, I’ll go back to the first one."

Where do the characters come from?

"Imagination," Bosh said. "I think about a lot of stuff all the time, so if I think of anything I’ll try to keep developing it until it turns into something real.

"I just make stuff up, and if I can do it, I will. If I can’t, I’ll be embarrassed trying."

Bosh, who turns 24 next month, said his goal behind the wacky web videos is to reach out to basketball fans, much like the way injured Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas connects to fans through his popular blog.

"I think connecting to the fans in this day and age with the Internet up and TV with the way it is, I think it’s very important," Bosh said. "You can connect to fans that are out there and probably didn’t know much about you. And then you can gain fans too. I think putting yourself out there in a positive way is good."

NOTES : Raj Binder of the CBC’s "This Hour has 22 Minutes" presented Bosh with a voodoo doll during Saturday’s post-practice media session.

"I know he looks a lot like Mr. Vince Carter. I want you to take it," Binder said.

Bosh replied: "No, we’ll do all right without that. We don’t need voodoo."

Binder later asked Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash if he considered "Regina the airball of Canadian cities."

"It’s not a three-pointer by any stretch, or a slam dunk, but there are some nice people there," replied Nash, who lived in Regina as a child.

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