Bosh not soft on Gasol comparisons


   Chris Bosh laughs a knowing laugh. He has to, because the question resonates, and it's part of a shared experience that he'll get to share in person on Thursday night.

   So what exactly is it like to be a sidekick to a deity?

   "Yeah," Bosh smiles, "I mean everybody wants to pick on you. But it's given me insight on a lot of things. You see how things really work. You get different perspectives."

   Before Chris Bosh was NBA champion Chris Bosh, before he signed with the Miami Heat to play alongside LeBron James, Pau Gasol to a degree was Chris Bosh, a skilled, finesse-oriented big man who constantly was being measured alongside an impending Hall of Famer, in his case, Kobe Bryant.

   With the Los Angeles Lakers, or what's left of them, to face the Heat in a nationally televised game Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena, Bosh was asked if there therefore was a kinship.

    "Before I came here," he says of signing with the Heat in the 2010 offseason, "that's when the Lakers were rolling, were going to three Finals in a row and people were saying he wasn't good enough and he didn't have enough what it takes. But he was one of the best bigs, if not the best big in the game at the time."

    As with Bosh during the Heat's title runs, the Lakers' success just as often featured jump shots or hooks or floaters or layups from Gasol as dunks. There also was plenty of time on the perimeter. To be that big and that far from the rim didn't sit well with some, still doesn't.

    The result? Trade rumors, skepticism, criticism. Then, and now. For Gasol. For Bosh.

     "You just have to put up with it," Bosh says of their shared realities. "You have to be extremely strong in your mind. You have to know who you are, most importantly. And you just can't worry about the box that people want to put you in."

     To some, the cerebral approach is viewed as a negative at a position largely defined by bulk and brawn. But while Bosh is preaching the values of coding to youths, Gasol has dabbled in medical pursuits, following in the footsteps of his parents.

    "I saw a special on him doing all the medical work and all that stuff," Bosh says. "And it's funny seeing a seven-foot dude in scrubs. For him to think in that kind of way and not be confined to just basketball, you can tell that he's just comfortable in who he is. He comes in, he works. He has other interests and he's doing what he wants to do.

   "And when he gets on the court, he's going to take care of business whether you say he's good enough or not."

    The trade rumors are back for Gasol, as he plays out the final season on his contract. Amid the Heat's uneven play, there also has been heat on Bosh, who also can become a free agent this summer. For now, Bosh feels secure. But he also appreciates, like Gasol, that security can be fleeting.

    With or without Gasol, the Lakers will remain Kobe's team, Bryant's contract extension keeping him the undeniable focus. Need be, amid the unrelenting pressures from the onerous luxury tax, Bosh could be cast aside to satisfy LeBron's next contract reality. And yet, with the same even-keeled approach as Gasol, Bosh says he has learned to accept his lot as savvy subordinate.

    "I'm more comfortable more than ever," Bosh says. "I know who I am and I'm comfortable in my skin and that's what's most important. Because you can be somebody you're not and have this fake bravado and then go home and be like confused. Or you can just stay and march to the beat of your own drummer."


   NEW PERSPECTIVE: Until Tuesday's three-team trade that sent Joel Anthony to the Boston Celtics, the Heat were big fans of the Philadelphia 76ers. That's because the Heat held a conditional draft pick from the 76ers that could be utilized in the first round in 2014 or '15 if Philadelphia made the playoffs in those seasons. Now that pick (which otherwise becomes a pair of second-round 76ers picks) belongs to the Celtics, the cost of the Heat dumping Anthony's salary. And that's where it gets interesting. No, the 76ers are not making the playoffs this season, even in the watered-down East. But with 2013 first-round pick Nerlens Noel moving closer to his NBA debut, another lottery pick of their own this season, the New Orleans' Pelicans first-round pick due unless it is among the first five, and youthful possibilities potentially to be culled from the trade market for Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, the 2015 element of that pick could be another story. Considering the tenuous position of the New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony's impending free agency and considering the age factor of the Brooklyn Nets, two East obstacles could be out of the 76ers' way next season. For tax reasons, the pick had to be sacrificed by the Heat. In a year, we'll know exactly how much of a sacrifice.

   JOEL'S RETURN: Oddly, Anthony will return to Miami the same time as the Heat, after their six-game trip, with the Celtics visiting AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night. But Celtics President Danny Ainge made clear in a media session following the trade that Anthony was acquired because of the draft picks attached, including the Heat's 2016 second-round selection, that came attached. "It gives us some assets to draft players, such as Big Baby [Glen Davis] or Leon Powe that we've gotten with second-round picks in the past," Ainge said, "or second-round picks that we've traded to unload contracts, as we've done recently or move up in the draft. Draft picks are very important assets and they are always tradable."

   D.C. DESTINATION: It says plenty about Ray Allen, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Roger Mason Jr., James Jones, since-traded Anthony, coach Erik Spoelstra and Heat General Manager Andy Elisburg that they took time the evening before their White House visit to tour the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The visit was arranged by Allen through his friendship with Andres Abril, the museum's Mid-Atlantic regional director and a long-time Celtics fan dating to Allen's time in Boston. "Ray is a really, really impressive guy," Abril told The Tablet magazine. "He really appreciates the fact that he can share this with his teammates."

   GUEST LIST: During the White House visit, President Obama made small talk with Dwyane Wade about the Heat's guard's impending wedding to actress Gabrielle Union. "I said, 'It ain't like you coming anyway,' " Wade said the day after. "He said, 'You wouldn't want me there.' " But the moment resonated. "It's cool to have that kind of back and forth with the President," Wade said. "It's crazy to even say that."


   15. Years since the Washington Wizards scored at least 20 unanswered points, which they did in Wednesday's victory over the Heat with a 20-0 first-quarter run. The last time it happened for the franchise, according to Elias Sports Bureau, was a 21-0 run against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 19, 1999. It was the first run of 20 or more consecutive points against the Heat since the Nets had a 21-0 run against them on Dec. 29, 2006. Follow him at





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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