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Feature: Chris Bosh checks ego at the door in search of a title

By Frank Pingue

Bosh is part of the Heat's "Big Three" along with two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James and seven-time All-Star Dwyane Wade, but he trails both in points, assists and minutes played.

He said joining the Heat as a free agent in the offseason after seven years in Toronto was not easy, especially since he was not sold on the idea of playing anywhere that he would not be the clear-cut franchise player.

"I can't let ego get in the way of what I said I wanted to do, what my goals were before I left (Toronto) and that was to win championships, or at least one," Bosh said recently before playing his first game in Toronto since joining Miami.

"I wasn't expecting just to change overnight or over one season. It's a different role and I have to get used to it, I'm still getting used to it.

"I'm feeling it out and making sure I get better for the sake of the team."

Bosh is averaging 18.6 points a game, his lowest since the 2004-05 season, and his 8.1 rebounds are the fewest since his rookie campaign a year earlier.

He is the Raptors' all-time franchise leader in points, rebounds, free throws made, blocks, minutes and games started, so his decision to pack his bags still stings the city.

For his first game in Toronto since joining James and Wade, Bosh was booed by a packed house the moment he took the floor for warm-ups and even when he was shown on the video screen during the American national anthem.

One of the countless signs fans held up during the game read, "Two and a Half Men" with a picture of James, Wade and Bosh, a sobering reminder that the player who once carried the Raptors is now along for the ride in Miami.

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Toronto, which entered the NBA in 1995 with the Vancouver Grizzlies (now the Memphis Grizzlies), has lost a handful of high-profile players who felt a U.S.-based team offered more exposure and a shot at a championship.

But of the several big-name Toronto players who took the same path before Bosh, none have yet enjoyed much team success and perhaps could have built a contender had they remained with the NBA's only Canadian team.

Cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady were high-flying Raptor team mates who led the team to their first post-season appearance in 2000, but both eventually wanted out of Toronto.

Things also turned sour with Carter, who demanded a trade in 2004 because he was reportedly not happy with the direction of the struggling Raptors team.

Carter, once the face of the Raptors franchise given his scoring touch and dunking prowess, is no longer an All-Star and has yet to play in an NBA Final.

Once Carter was traded, the Raptors decided to rebuild around Bosh, who was the team's lottery pick in a rich 2003 NBA Draft that included James, Wade and Carmelo Anthony.

Even Damon Stoudamire, the expansion Raptors' first draft pick in 1995, won NBA Rookie of the Year honors but demanded a trade partway through a third straight losing season.

Stoudamire, now an assistant coach with Memphis, went on to play in one Western Conference final with the Portland Trail Blazers before his career fizzled.

"That's the whole reason I made my choice," said Bosh, who has only 11 playoff games under his belt in two first-round losses with the Raptors.

"It was the best situation for me and my family of course. And you need a team situation to win a championship and that was my whole purpose for making my decision."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)