Chris Bosh’s First Encounter With LeBron James Was Getting Crushed by Him in High School: ‘He Already Had Such a Complete Game’

The trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh had a historic impact on the NBA. The three superstars led the Miami Heat to two titles and four Finals appearances in four seasons while paving the way for future superteams.

But before they were all teammates, they were all competitors. For Bosh, the competition started in high school, when the big man had his first encounter with a 16-year-old LeBron.

Chris Bosh had a decorated high school basketball career

While the high schooler James was showcased on SportsCenter and Sports Illustrated covers, Bosh’s high school career was almost every bit as impressive. Even if the attention didn’t start until his final season.

Bosh’s recruiting interest skyrocketed during his senior year. The 14-year NBA vet led Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas to a perfect 40-0 season with both state and national championships. As far as individual accomplishments, the big man was named High School Player of the Year by Basketball America, First-Team McDonald’s All-American, and “Mr. Basketball” in Texas, among other honors.

“At a young age, it just seemed like he knew what he wanted, and he knew how to go about it,” said Leonard Bishop, Bosh’s high school coach at Lincoln. “It’s hindsight now, but he was just very intelligent and disciplined.”

Following his senior year, Bosh turned down offers from more traditional college basketball powerhouses and committed to Georgia Tech. He averaged 15.6 points and 9.0 rebounds in his lone season with the Yellow Jackets before the Toronto Raptors selected him fourth overall in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Bosh was still no match for a 16-year-old LeBron James

In 2001, a 17-year-old Bosh participated in his first national camp, the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey. Ready to compete against the best high school players in the country like Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, Bosh noticed one player who stood above them all.

“Alright, so this guy — this kid, really — on the other team, he comes up to me before tip,” Bosh wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. “He’s not super big, but he’s got good size for 16. And what happens is, this kid, he points to me. And then he looks at me. Then he points to me again. And he says, ‘I got him! I’m checking him!’ So I’m like, ‘Check ME?! This nobody thinks he’s checking ME?! Kid … I’ll check YOU.'”

“Was his last game being nobody, I’ll tell you that.”

“He did it all, and he did it all easy,” Bosh continued. “That’s one of the things that sticks out to me, playing it back these years later. It was like the pressure we all felt … he somehow didn’t feel it. He was just this whole other shade of cool. And then the other thing that sticks out to me, it’s maybe a little more obvious: dude’s game. He already had such a complete game. And I mean — we’re in a gym full of somebodies: athletes, shooters, dunkers. Future college stars. Future PROS. But only one guy in that gym that day had the complete package already. And looking back on it? That was the camp that really put him on the national map.”

“By the end of the game, I asked my coach — well, I asked him the only question there was. ‘Yo, Coach … who is this guy?’ And he just shook his head. Looked at me almost like his heart was breaking. Like he was about to sit me down and break the news that Santa wasn’t real. ‘That,’ he said, ‘is LeBron James.'”

Chris Bosh

The 2001 ABCD Camp is widely known as the camp that put LeBron on the national radar. But as Bosh described, it wasn’t just the media who knew the King was here to stay.

James appreciates his teammate and friend Bosh

Less than 10 years after battling against each other in a New Jersey gym, James and Bosh joined Wade with the Heat. Their success in Miami is a big reason why Bosh, who made 11 All-Star teams including six with the Heat, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021 alongside fellow greats like Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, and Chris Webber.

The 6-foot-11 star finished his career with 19.2 points while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor, 33.5 percent from 3-point range, and 79.9 percent from the free-throw line. He also earned Second Team All-NBA honors in 2006-07, as well as two rings, before a blood clot ended his playing career early. His most impressive feat, however, was becoming a role player when the team needed one, something which started all the way back in high school.

“I remember seeing him his senior year at a tournament in St. Louis, and he played a role when he could’ve been demanding every shot,” said Paul Hewitt, Bosh’s coach at Georgia Tech. “He was more concerned with defending, blocking shots, rebounding, running the floor; doing all the things you’d expect a role player to do.”

“I don’t win my championships in Miami without him,” James said before Bosh’s number one was retired by the Heat. “What he meant to that team, all those years that he was down there in Miami — when I was there, my four years, and even a couple of years when I was gone — he’s just a true definition of what a professional is all about.”

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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