Wednesday, January 19

Chris Bosh Hall of Fame speech: on Kobe Bryant, bouncing back and growing through sadness

The lows of his life in basketball, Chris Bosh said, laid the foundation for many of the successes he would later enjoy in it.

While at the top of his sport Saturday night, as a new inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame, he told a story about something that cemented that mentality: a pre-Olympic meeting with Kobe Bryant in 2008.

Bosh was teammates with Bryant on Team USA and the team was together before heading to Beijing. This was right after Bryant’s Lakers lost to the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Bosh said he wanted to show leadership when he was a young player, so one morning he set out to be the first to eat breakfast. He was surprised to see that Bryant was already there and had already finished his training.

“That taught me something I have never forgotten: Legends are not defined by their successes; they are defined by how they bounce back from their failures,” Bosh said in a moving induction speech. “And that’s what I hope to convey to anyone who sees this, especially children.

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“When you look back on my career, when you visit Springfield and see my badge, it will seem inevitable that it ends here, and this is how I felt about my heroes growing up. I thought they were automatically destined for greatness.

“But as I reflected on my career, I realized that achievements weren’t guaranteed. The ups and downs I’ve experienced? They were only possible because of the way I bounced back from the lows. Of those moments when I wondered if it was worth it. It was worth it, or if I was wasting my time, or if it was good enough. The moments when I was afraid I would never become the person or the player that I knew I could become. “

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One of Bosh’s deepest lows was the Heat’s loss to the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals. That was the Miami super team’s first year with him, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Bosh’s tearful reaction to defeat went viral. He said the excitement dovetailed with the way he had always reacted to defeat, starting when he played pickup ball as a child.

Bosh eventually returned to work and the Heat returned to the Finals for the next three years, winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

But less than a year after Miami’s appearance in the 2014 Finals, Bosh’s career began to unravel. He was forced to waste time during the 2014-15 season with blood clots in his lung that led to a pulmonary embolism, which could have killed him. He returned for the 2015-16 season, only to be sidelined again with blood clots in his leg. He desperately wanted to keep playing, but was impressed by medical professionals at how risky it would be.

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Bosh said many more tears flowed after realizing that he would have to retire in his 30s. But those tears, like the ones he had shed earlier, helped cultivate greater determination.

“They were not ends, they were beginnings. They were not moments that made me want to stop working, they were moments that made me want to work even harder. And when I think about it, they were more than tears; they were the water that made it possible for me to the seeds of greatness within me will grow, ”he said.

After Saturday, he is officially one of the greats of his sport.

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