Canada May Hate Bosh, but It Loves Heat's Jamaal Magloire and Joel Anthony
Shouldn't the Miami Heat be an adopted Canadian team?
Canada has the Toronto Raptors, of course. And the Phoenix Suns feature Canadian star Steve Nash. But, if you want to get technical, Nash wasn't born in Canada, instead being a native of South Africa.
There are only two natives of Canada active in the NBA, and both play for Miami. There is center Jamaal Magloire, from Toronto, and center Joel Anthony, from Montreal. So one might think they're liking the Heat where it's cold even if those guys don't play a lot.
But there is one big problem with all of this. Miami also features forward Chris Bosh, known in some quarters as a Canadian defector.
Not that Bosh ever applied for Canadian citizenship, but he did play the previous seven seasons for the Raptors. Then he became a free agent and bolted to Miami, joining Northeast Ohio defector LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
"I think they're more mad at Bosh leaving (but) they're happy for us,'' Magloire said of how Canadian fans look at the Heat.
With that in mind, maybe Bosh should stand close to Magloire and Anthony when he makes his return Feb. 16 with the Heat to the Air Canada Centre. It could make it much safer.
"We have two great representatives (of Canada),'' said Bosh, laughing when asked about how the Heat features the NBA's only two natives of Canada. "Maybe we have a few more followers than normal. ... Sometimes (Bosh talks to Magloire and Anthony about Canada). We talk about (Toronto), and I know where (Magloire) is from. I spent some time in the area of his home.''
But Bosh figures in the near future to spend as little time as possible there. He's not the most popular guy these days way up north.
"That's just the current situation,'' said Anthony, who spent time in Toronto last summer and said "some fans were hurt'' by Bosh's departure. "Obviously, it's tough for a team like the Raptors to lose someone like Chris.''
Canadian columnists regularly rip Bosh. When he was quoted recently as saying he couldn't get "the good cable'' in the Toronto building where he lived because it didn't have NBA League Pass, the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk wrote that the package is "widely available in Canada" and Bosh "was also apparently dumb to the fact that anyone with a brain and a little bit of money'' could have arranged for another method to get it.
That's some extreme Bosh bashing. Anthony did sympathize with his teammate, saying he has relatives who have a hard time getting League Pass in Canada, although it's true Montreal is hardly a city with as much hoops interest as Toronto.
"It's unfortunate because my mom can't get League Pass,'' Anthony said. "So I understand where Chris is coming from. I have a lot of family and friends that would like to be able to see all the games (but are) limited.''
Canada's National Post went so far recently as to do an article entitled, "Chris Bosh accumulating treasure chest of dumb quotes.'' It offered up the cable quote as well as five others from Bosh since he left Toronto.
"I mean, people are going to take some things out of proportion,'' said Bosh, shrugging off his lack of popularity now in the Canadian press. "I don't know why that would happen. But all I tell is the truth. I never say anything otherwise. I loved my time in Toronto. They made me who I am today, and that's it.''
Asked about how there are Canadians who don't like him now, Bosh said, "Everybody that knows me, likes me. So it's OK.''
Toronto fans can express their feelings about Bosh when he makes his February return. It's the first of two visits this season, the other being April 13.
So far the Ontario Provincial Police has made no official announcement on security procedures for when Bosh comes back. But stay tuned.
"I'm not sure,'' Bosh said of what he believes the reaction will be his first game back. "That's been the question. But I can't worry about it. I know the people that do miss me. I miss them as well. At the end of the day, I'm on a new team. So I understand if it goes another way.''
The Heat got their first taste of a hostile return when James returned to Cleveland last week. He was booed at every turn, and the arena was full of signs that ripped James.
But these are Canadians we're talking about. They can't be nearly as hostile as those in Cleveland, can they?
"No, not at all,'' Magloire, mild-mannered himself, said of Canadians not being capable of being too mean. "I think (Bosh will) get mixed reviews. A lot of people will thank him for the support he's given over the years and others might not.''
Said Anthony, "I don't think the fans will be as hard (on) him as LeBron in Cleveland. ... In Cleveland, it was pretty over the top.''
So Anthony must agree with Magloire that Canadians aren't capable of being too mean, right?
Well, not exactly,
"They were pretty mad at Vince when he left,'' Anthony said.
Vince Carter has remained a reviled figure in Canada since he was traded by the Raptors to New Jersey in 2004. Carter, now with Orlando, made comments shortly after the deal that gave a perception he didn't always go all out with Toronto.
Carter was greeted with a chorus of boos and chants of "V.C. sucks, V.C. sucks,'' when he returned April 15, 2005 to the Air Canada Center. It must be said Carter scored 39 points, one more than James had in his Cleveland return.
"I was there when Vince came back so I kind of figured how the crowd reaction was going to be and what it was going to be like and they were both very similar,'' Bosh said in comparing the reaction Carter got to what James endured last week. "People are going to feel the way they feel sometimes, and you just have to deal with it... (What Carter got was) similar to LeBron, but one notch down.''
When Carter returned to Toronto, he was on a Nets team that featured no Canadians. Whether the Heat having two will eliminate a few "CB sucks'' chants remains to be seen.
Anthony at least holds out hope the Heat could be an "adopted team'' in his homeland. That's an idea Miami coach Erik Spoelstra likes.
"I think eventually they'll be fine with that,'' Spoelstra said of Canadians getting over Bosh's departure from the Raptors. "We're proud of our two Canadians. ... Those two guys sure would love it (if the Heat was adopted by Canadian fans).''
If it ever does happen, perhaps League Pass will become even more widespread in Canada.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson