During an exclusive interview with Rogers Sportsnet on Thursday, former Raptors forward Chris Bosh responded to criticism from general manager Bryan Colangelo, refuting claims that he “checked out” during the closing stretch of his final season in Toronto.
Bosh, who decided to join the Miami Heat this off-season and will play alongside Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, said that his impending free agency had no effect on his play with the Raptors and he never gave up on the team as it slid out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference.
“No, at any time, did I ever give up,” Bosh told Sportsnet. “You know, I take that very seriously. I work hard every time I step on the court — practice, games, shoot-around, whatever you want to say — I take this job seriously and I take my effort on the court seriously.
“I play this game as hard as I can every time I step on the court. On the back of my jersey, it says Bosh,” the 26-year-old forward continued. “The Boshs are hard workers. We have a lot of pride in what we do in our jobs and in life. There was no time, at any time, that I ever stepped on the court — in my NBA career, in my life — and stop playing hard or give up.”
In a radio interview with the FAN 590 on Monday, Colangelo said he thought his team’s second-half collapse may have been a result of Bosh mentally checking out after the NBA All-Star weekend in February. Bosh shot down those claims on Thursday, saying the post-season was always his goal during his seven seasons in Toronto.
“What is so significant about the All-Star break?” Bosh said. “We were in the playoffs, why would I give up? I wanted to play in the playoffs. That’s all I thought about every summer, was training hard enough to go to the playoffs.”
Bosh also talked about the difficulties in playing for the lone NBA franchise north of the border. He said, although he enjoyed his time in Toronto, it was tough for the Raptors to recruit players and gain respectability in the U.S. media.
“In my time, it was a little bit difficult to attract players,” Bosh admitted. “That’s been known throughout the past years because we tried to get some guys in and, at the end of the day, they chose somewhere else even though we were a good team at the time.
“Back in 2006-07, we were the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. The next year, we never really got on any TV games. For me, everybody doesn’t have an NBA (TV) package with my family. That’s all I ever wanted to do — play on (national television) in front of my family and get that national exposure. I think, at the time, we deserved it.”
While Bosh is set to start a new chapter in his NBA career, he hopes Raptors fans don’t forget his contributions to the franchise.
“With everything that has happened, I don’t want any of this to erase what we all went through together,” Bosh said. “We did seven years together; we had ups and downs. I put my heart and soul and emotion into that locker room and organization. Just because I’m somewhere else, that doesn’t erase that.”
The all-time leading scorer in club history is well aware of the fans’ feelings towards other former Raptors who abandoned the franchise and hopes he doesn’t get the same negative reaction when he returns to play against Toronto.
“I’m not sure what to expect. With Vince Carter and the way (the fans) responded after he came back was pretty amazing. Not to say it was right or wrong, but the anticipation and how excited people were to go to that game was very significant and it showed the passion that those fans have.”
And his final message to those Raptors fans after losing another franchise player?
“Everybody in Toronto, just stay passionate about basketball … and don’t boo me when I come back.”