The clip showed a side of the smooth NBA superstar that few have seen. "I always thought he was a country bumpkin," says his coach, Mitchell. "Now I know." Bosh is in fact a bit of a homebody. He goes out at night, but "it's only for an hour or two," he says. "Then I'm back on the couch or asleep." He's friendly with all his teammates but isn't particularly close to any of them, save, perhaps, fellow Texan Ford, who hasn't played since early December because of a neck injury. That's probably why so many Raptors were stunned to see their quiet superstar on television hamming it up and looking like a Brobdingnagian cowboy. "It was hilarious," says shooting guard Anthony Parker. "I've been telling him to show some more personality because he can be a funny guy."
"It worked," says point guard José Calderón. "I didn't vote for him before, but I did after."
Bosh lives in a condo in suburban Toronto with his cousin Adriene Mayes and Mathis, who had her own 15 minutes of video fame in early January when she was caught on camera heckling James during a game in Cleveland. With the Cavs trailing by 11 in the third quarter, King James missed a breakaway dunk, prompting Allison, a five-foot wisp of a woman with a voice that carries across county lines, to get on his case. But in the fourth quarter James scored 24 points to spark a come-from-behind victory and was seen mouthing "It's your fault" in the general direction of Allison.
"Now that was blown out of proportion," says Bosh. "They know each other."
But she picked the wrong guy to heckle, right? "Yeah," says Bosh. "I think I'll leave her home next time."
EVEN IF Mathis isn't by his side, Bosh has plenty to keep him busy on road trips. The truth is, he's a nerd. A supernerd, really—think Lewis Skolnick with twists. He's as comfortable talking about gigabytes and hard drives as he is defense and jump shots. He reads PC World and Wired magazines. He blogs. He has his own MySpace page and spends his free time instant messaging. ("I would be on there more often," says Bosh, "but no one hits me back.") He has two Treos, and his laptop is constantly humming as it downloads music. He has a second PC that he custom-configured to run an entertainment center that includes nearly every video game system in existence. "What can I say," says Bosh. "I like gadgets." During last season's All-Star weekend in Las Vegas, Bosh dropped by the NBA's Technology Summit, an event usually attended only by corporate executives and a smattering of media (and, of course, Mark Cuban). His presence attracted notice: At this year's Summit, Bosh will sit on a panel moderated by Wolf Blitzer to discuss social networking and blogging. Says NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, "He's a computer geek trapped in an NBA player's body."
Bosh's love of microchips and motherboards began as a toddler, when he started playing with computers. His mom, Freida, was a systems analyst for a small computer company in Dallas. "She got me hooked," says Bosh, whose dad, Noel, is a plumbing engineer. When it came time to choose a major at Georgia Tech, Bosh planned to go with computer science but instead picked management when he was told the comp-sci course load might be too difficult for a freshman basketball player. (For the time being Bosh has no plans to finish his degree, but he has already founded a company, Max Deal Technologies, that provides tech solutions for a high-end clientele.)
In the meantime Bosh focuses on his day job, one he has performed with remarkable consistency. (His scoring and rebounding averages through Sunday were exactly the same as his final stats from the 2005--06 season and just a hair below his numbers from last season.) When the final balloting was revealed and the All-Star starters were announced last Thursday, Bosh finished more than a million votes behind both Garnett and James. But he still counts The Video as a success. On Dec. 27, a little more than a month into the voting, Bosh had received 313,983 votes; when the polls closed on Jan. 21, Bosh's total was 838,498. "You can't be mad when you get beat by KG or LeBron," says Bosh, who is a near certainty to make the team when reserves are announced on Thursday.
Moreover, The Video opened the door to other opportunities. Shortly after it was posted, YouTube officials contacted Bosh about starting his own online channel. Hence, the birth of Chris Bosh TV (CBTV), which includes behind-the-scenes footage of Bosh recording his podcast and attending various events. On the channel he will also periodically answer questions submitted on his website or YouTube. "It's my way of interacting with the fans," says Bosh, who, thanks to The Video, now has a lot more of them.