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Now Starring . . . Chris Bosh

Who knew that the Toronto forward's breakout performance would come not on the court but in a YouTube video? That hilarious turn has helped raise his profile to new heights

Posted: Tuesday January 29, 2008 10:16AM; Updated: Tuesday January 29, 2008 10:17AM
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Bosh initially planned to be the President in his video before switching to a mock Texas car dealer.
Bosh initially planned to be the President in his video before switching to a mock Texas car dealer.
Peter Gregoire/SI
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Let's talk about The Video. You know the one. That grainy, 77-second window into Chris Bosh's personality that has made the Toronto Raptors' All-Star power forward an overnight Internet sensation, one on par with Andy Milonakis, Numa Numa and Paris Hilton. (O.K., maybe not Paris, but definitely Perez.) Thanks to a $300 Sony Handicam, a Western wardrobe and a little tech savvy, Bosh has emerged from the relative anonymity that comes with playing on the only NBA team north of the border. His now famous YouTube clip -- which features the 6' 10", 230-pound Bosh, clad in a black cowboy hat, a black blazer, a white shirt and a bolo tie that would have made John Wayne proud, channeling his inner used-car salesman in a pronounced Texas drawl while urging fans to punch his name on the All-Star ballot -- has become more popular than an average NHL broadcast. (Through Sunday it had been viewed 440,803 times on YouTube, plus an untold number more on Bosh's website, chris-bosh.com.) "It has become bigger than I could have imagined," says Bosh. "The Internet is the most powerful tool in the world. It's everywhere."

Since Bosh first posted The Video in late December, it has also run on CNN, ESPN, TSN and virtually every regional sports network in the United States and Canada. Over the last few weeks the team's public relations office has been inundated with requests from TV stations looking for original copies. Fans approach Bosh almost daily wanting to talk about it. "It's the accent," says Bosh, a Dallas native. "People keep coming up to me asking me to do it." When the Raptors were in New York last month, one fan shouted at Bosh that he had watched the video but still didn't vote for him. "Now that was funny," says Bosh.

The YouTube phenomenon is beginning to catch on in the league. Last week forward Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies posted a video asking fans what kind of acrobatic feat he should perform in this year's slam dunk contest. However, the reaction to a player's using the Internet to lobby for All-Star votes has been mixed. "I don't know what to think about guys doing that," muses Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Krystowiak.

"I wouldn't do it," says Bucks guard Michael Redd. "But then, I'm not that creative."

"It's not politicking," insists Toronto coach Sam Mitchell. "I've got a stack of mail on my desk from coaches asking me to vote for their players. I got a fruit basket. That's [politicking]. What Chris did was for fun."

It's not as though Bosh needed to make the case that he's an elite player. After serving as Vince Carter's wingman for 1 1/2 seasons, Bosh has established himself as the face of the Raptors. Already a formidable post presence when he arrived in Toronto as the fourth pick in the 2003 draft, the athletic, agile and impossibly long Bosh has added a feathery jump shot to his repertoire. Through Sunday he was averaging 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds (while shooting 48.9% from the floor and 85.3% from the line), the kind of production Toronto was expecting when it signed him to a four-year, $65 million contract extension in 2006. Despite injuries to point guard T.J. Ford and forward Jorge Garbajosa that could have crippled the team, the Raptors (24-19) have remained in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

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