A lot of times, our introduction to sports can come through one or two players that captivate us when we’re young enough to idolize them and old enough to appreciate them. For me as a kid, Chris Bosh was one of those keystone players. Now, 17 years later, as part of the 2021 class along with Paul Pierce and Chris Webber, Bosh is officially going to be a Hall of Famer.
When Bosh was selected at no. 4 in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors, he was a gangly power forward out of Georgia Tech. As a gangly Canadian kid myself, the newest Toronto Raptor quickly grew on me. Stepping into a team that already had an established star in Vince Carter, it was interesting to wonder what his role would be early in his career.
However, it wouldn’t take long for Bosh to become the new Raptor focal point. Midway through CB4’s second season, Carter made his infamous exit from Toronto via a trade to the Nets. While the franchise was only 11 years old, the Raptors had already dealt with some less than stellar basketball, and with Vince’s exit (and trade return Alonzo Mourning’s refusal to report to Toronto), it could have led to a long stretch of bottom tier basketball for the Great White North.
Thankfully, Bosh had other plans.
Watching Bosh develop into a multi-tool offensive threat, with a silky mid-range jumper and feathery low post footwork, is what drew me to sit down and watch every night. Taking in the Bosh Raptor Scream was a hilarious little bonus. (Seriously, has anyone ever looked more like a dinosaur?)
Beyond the aesthetics of his play, Bosh’s numbers showed a forward who was rapidly building an all-around, All-Star repertoire. Averaging 20 points and 9.5 boards in his Raptors career, Bosh played a full offensive game, even developing a three-point shot he would deploy with great effect in Miami. By the end of his time in Toronto, after seven seasons, Bosh hit career-high averages of 24 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, and we got to watch him mature as his basketball IQ grew and mesh with his high energy and intensity on both ends of the court.
During a recent interview with ESPN, Bosh mentioned that the main thing he took away from basketball was, “The bus rides, was hanging out with my friends, it was just having such a great time being a kid.” Watching him in his career, from his Raptors days through the Heatles era, I have to say, the love Bosh got from the game was obvious. And he returned that to us in spades with his play. That pure love of basketball is why he is such a great Hall of Fame selection, Raptor or otherwise.
Now, with Bosh waiting to give his speech, the question is, who will be next into the Hall for the Raptors? Who could potentially join him in the years to come? Let’s take a look, starting with the odds-on favourite.
1. Kyle Lowry
It’s pretty much impossible not to put Lowry at the top of this list. A bulldog of a point guard, Kyle has been the heart and soul of the Raptors team and was the spiritual leader of the 2018-19 championship-winning squad. Kawhi Leonard may have been “the star”, but nobody meant as much to us fans as Lowry, and in my opinion, no one’s Hall of Fame potential was more raised by that championship run than Lowry. He’ll go into the Hall as a Raptor, and that’s that.
2. Marc Gasol
There are gonna be some people who completely forget about Big Marc when it comes to the HoF conversation, but he’s got a great resume. The 2013 Defensive Player of the Year was a beast on the Grit n’ Grind Grizzlies before being traded to Toronto, where he won his only championship.
On top of that, Gasol has a deep international basketball resume, including two Olympic silver medals and two FIBA World Championship titles. Sprinkle in a few All-Star appearances and one All-NBA First Team and Second Team each, and Gasol has the type of complete career that’s hard to ignore. He may not be a sexy pick, but he’s a safe one.
3. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar was basically Bosh after Bosh, coming in as a lottery pick in the last years of the previous star’s tenure. No player until DeRozan had shown his level of commitment to the NBA’s lone international team.
DeMar is by no means a lock to make the Hall of Fame. A high-volume scorer with suspect range and mediocre defense, DeRozan likely fits better in the “Hall of Very Good” category. Ask a Raptor fan though, and you’ll find someone who loves the man for his passion and his loyalty, so leaving him off this list wouldn’t feel right.
4. Kawhi Leonard
Technically, Kawhi is the most likely on this list to get in the Hall. But will he be recognized as a Raptor? Unlikely.
As a multi-time championship winner, Kawhi is more likely to be remembered for where he spent the longest amount of time. In his formative years, he played a key role in San Antonio’s championship teams, and though it’s only his second season, he likely has a long career ahead of him in LA.
Is Kawhi a Hall of Famer? Barring a sudden retirement, he’s a lock. He even made one of the greatest shots in Raptors history. But he won’t be seen as a Raptor in the Hall, and for that reason alone, I’m leaving him down here at four.
Long Shots: Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby
This is really just a list of the current best-rostered Raptors (outside of Lowry). Siakam is a great player, but he didn’t come into the game until his mid-20’s, and with an up-and-down season this past year, Siakam is unlikely to build the kind of resume one needs for the Hall.
OG is young, and without a doubt has the potential to be a great player. But his game doesn’t make you think all-time great, and more closely resembles a high-end number three or low-end number two option on a good team.
Already A Lock: Vince Carter
Oh, did you think I forgot Vince Carter? The most polarizing player in Raptors history, Carter can still inspire a bit of anger in Raptors fans, even after all these years. Nevertheless, despite his long career involving many teams, he’ll be best known as a Raptor and a Net, and in the twilight of his career, Vince himself talked about the healing process with the Raptors.
Does that mean all is forgiven? Maybe, maybe not. But when Carter inevitably enters the Hall of Fame, he’ll be recognized as a Raptor, and everyone should embrace that by now.
Ultimately, Bosh was an incontestably amazing player, during and after his time with the Raptors. With 2twochampionship rings, 11 All-Star appearances, and the kind of highlight shots you never forget, he’s nothing if not a deserving inductee.
So Chris, thanks for the memories, and congrats.