Bosh brought out the boo-birds, but, really, it wasn’t so bad

Bosh brought out the boo-birds, but, really, it wasn’t so bad

Chris Bosh gives peace a chance at the ACC last night (Image: Gabriel Li/StudioGabe, from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool) 

More than 20,000 were on hand to watch Chris Bosh return to the ACC last night, and it was the loudest, largest and most vociferous crowd to attend a Toronto Raptors game this season. It’s a time-honoured Toronto tradition to boo, hiss and heckle the return of a former franchise player, but did the vitriol live up to the pre-game hype? Not really.

Sure, the Raptors faithful booed the team’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder when his name was announced before the opening tip, and they booed him on his first possession, and they booed him pretty much every time he touched the ball. But that’s par for the course. The truth is that while it’s fun for the city to get its hate-on for Bosh, his move to Miami didn’t create the same feelings of scorn and rejection that the most reviled departed Raps, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, engendered. With that in mind, we take a look at the intangible qualities that make for a truly caustic homecoming.

1. Play the villain
The Miami Heat might be the team basketball fans love to hate, but Bosh isn’t Toronto’s own villain to the same extent. His exit was insensitive, but his return performance didn’t feel like an attempt to drive a stake deeper into the Raptors’ fans hearts. Bosh turned in a solid effort with 25 points on 7-for-16 shooting. When Carter returned to T.O., he played the role of master villain to a tee, dropping 42 points, including the game-winning shot with a tenth of a second left in regulation.

2. Make a hasty exit
When the tough got going for both McGrady and Carter, they got the heck out of Dodge. Carter limped through his final season with the Raptors, demanding a trade all the while, and McGrady took the first ticket to Florida when he became a free agent. Bosh, on the other hand, re-signed with Toronto and served his full term with a touch more dignity and respect.

3. Return when it matters
The season is already over for the Raptors. There was no hope of beating the far superior Heat from the start, and any hope of making a sort of splash this season disappeared long ago. It’s much easier to get upset, to get angry and to hate with great abandon when there’s something on the line. Bosh’s return was just an excuse to have some fun and add an element of energy and excitement to a year that has been painfully lacking in both. The National Post’s Bruce Arthur said it best: “In a lost season, it was nice just to hear the fans care again.”

4. Make one last, grand, insulting gesture
Bosh’s final gift to the ACC crowd was a blown kiss, as he raised both hands to the cheap seats after the final buzzer sounded. It’s tough to say whether the gesture was sarcastic or sincere—but it doesn’t really matter. There were few fans left in the building to see it and most of those that did actually stood up and applauded. Bosh’s take: “It was sarcastic to all the naysayers. It was real to all the supporters.” Spoken like neither a hero, nor a villain. Just a ho-hum diplomat.

• Bosh shrugs off boos as Heat down Raptors 103-95 [Toronto Star]
• Feschuk: Bosh seals return with a kiss [Toronto Star]
Welcome back Bosh, No. 3 in Raptor hate [Toronto Star]
Bosh the unkindest cut? Not even close [Globe and Mail]
• Just kisses from Chris [Globe and Mail]
• Heat, Bosh burn lowly Raptors [Globe and Mail]
• Chris Bosh’s bitter gift to Raptors fans [National Post]