The Return of Chris Bosh


It's arguably the biggest game since Vince left town and it goes down tomorrow night...

Tomorrow's the big day.

Nope, not the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery, which in many ways will likely be the biggest day for Raptors' fans in quite some time.

And no, not the final decision on the 2011-12 season in terms of a lock-out, another potential landmark for fans of the Dinos.

February 16, 2011 marks the first time Chris Bosh returns to Toronto as a member of the Miami Heat.

We all know how it went down.

Up until around this time last year, it seemed like Chris Bosh had an interest in sticking around TO, hopefully becoming a true franchise player for Toronto Raptors, by some folks' definition of the term.

However post-All-Star break he seemed like a different person and as the whispers of his imminent departure grew louder, so did the team's free-fall from a playoff position.

Bryan Colangelo even admitted in the last off-season that Bosh had "checked out," and that was just the start of what drew the ire of Raptors' fans.

The tweets, the comments regarding Canada's lack of cable television, the late night talk show tour...essentially the "Miami-ization" of Chris Bosh.

As a result, Bosh quickly became the new Vince Carter, and the latest in the long line of former stars to shun the franchise.

Now for many a fan, tomorrow night represents payback, and the ACC I'm certain will ring with the sounds of booing the moment the former number four is introduced.

Bosh will certainly try to show fans what they're missing by having a marquee game (although with only 15 wins on the season, I think the Dinos already know what they're missing), and as the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk noted, one or more of the current group of Raptors has a chance to become somewhat of a folk hero.  One solid block, one hard foul, one dunk in Bosh's vicinity and the Air Canada Center will likely explode in delight.

I'll be in attendance tomorrow night as a fan and I'll be ready to sing along with the rest of the boo-birds.  I don't expect this one to get ugly, or be close to the spectacle that was Mr. Carter's return, but I do think Bosh handled his departure in essentially the worst way possible, so I'm firmly in the "go ahead and boo" camp.

The most effective thing though tomorrow night would be the reverse; if fans booed LeBron James but were silent when Bosh touched the ball.  As we saw with James earlier this season in his return to Cleveland, booing at times does nothing more than inspire certain competitive types, so fans showing a disinterest in Chris might be a much louder message than any type of jeers.

But beyond booing there's something that I'll be keeping a keen eye on in this game.

I'm looking to see who, if anyone, makes a statement against Bosh.

On this team of good guys, you know that folks like Jose will give Chris a hug pre-game, laugh it up a bit, etc, etc.

However could we see Ed Davis take it as a personal challenge to shut Bosh down?

Perhaps Amir?

Or what about Andrea Bargnani, who as we've often seen, plays a much more complete game when he's cranky and challenged by an opponent?

I'm hoping someone steps up, and not that I'm looking to see an NBA version of the recent ridiculousness between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, but on a team that has been so fragile again this season, it would be great to see some heart and grit shown by the club, especially by the team's youngsters.

After all, Bosh shouldn't expect any less.

This was the player who as a rook, was essentially brought to tears of frustration due to Vince Carter and that group of Raptors' "going through the motions and losing on a regular basis" mentality.

This is something the team is again trying to divest itself of, and therefore perhaps Chris Bosh can still be a huge asset to this club...

...as a turning point for his former teammates as they continue down the long and winding "rebuilding road."

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