Chris Bosh doesn’t much care about a certain childhood memory these days.
Yes, he recalls life as a Texas kid and emerging high school basketball star with posters of Tim Duncan — a young NBA gun with San Antonio back then — on his bedroom wall.
Yes, he admires and respects the still-going-strong Duncan, who’s 37 years old now.
Yes, he considers Duncan, deep into a Hall of Fame career, one of the greatest of the all-time greats.
And blah-diddy, blah, blah, blah.
Because the reality is that Bosh, a center/power forward for the Heat now a 10-year pro veteran himself, has an NBA Finals job to do beginning tonight in AmericanAirlines Arena against the Spurs … and perhaps a significant amount of it will involve dealing with Duncan somewhere along the (front)line.
“I’m not trying to make friends,” Bosh said Wednesday afternoon. “Everybody tries to make (Duncan) out to be a nice guy, but you can’t be nice and win championships.”
The Spurs have won four of them during the Duncan Era.
Draw your own “nice” conclusions, and know, too, that Bosh says the Spurs are about “elbows, hard box-outs and hard fouls.”
He wasn’t being antagonistic.
And he certainly wasn’t complaining.
He was just stating the ground rules as Miami takes on its final opponent in defense of the title the Heat won last year.
Bosh might spend more time paired off against Spurs center Tiago Splitter than he does against Duncan, but the noteworthy statistical analysis — scoring and rebounding comparisons — will focus on him vs. his one-time idol.
If he has been the third wheel in a Heat system featuring LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — and he has been — Bosh nevertheless recognizes an opportunity to assert himself on the NBA’s brightest stage.
Bosh is coming off an Eastern Conference finals series against Indiana during which he didn’t play well. Neither did Wade, but his redemption was a 21-point contribution in Monday night’s Game 7 victory.
Wade had gone so far as to visit Bosh, who’s a neighbor, on Sunday night.
“I said, ‘Chris, it didn’t matter if you scored 30 points a game up to this point. Let’s do whatever we can — do what we’ve got to do — until things turn around for us,’ ” Wade said.
Bosh grabbed eight rebounds in the finale, but was 3-of-13 shooting.
Might he have more room to maneuver against the Spurs than he had against the muscular and clawing Pacers?
“I had freedom in the last series,” Bosh disagreed. “I just didn’t make shots and didn’t finish around the rim.”
The extent, if any, to which he’s able to improve in those areas might be tightly connected to what the Heat can accomplish against San Antonio. A study of the Bosh-Duncan numbers on a stat sheet figures to rank right there with Wade vs. Danny Green/Manu Ginobili at shooting guard in terms of importance.
Bosh and Duncan have met 15 times during their regular-season careers, but most of those contests were when Bosh played for overmatched Toronto. Duncan holds narrow advantages in head-to-head scoring (20.0-17.1) and rebounding (11.7-10.0) averages in those games.
The Heat could live with similar totals in this series.
Bosh knows how well the Spurs “mix and match” around Duncan, who’s made even more dangerous by point guard Tony Parker’s skills as a passer and scorer. He knows how Duncan makes everything “fit” for San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who called him “a consummate pro” who “takes great pride in fulfilling his responsibility to his teammates.”
Bosh, though, might have said it best when asked about Duncan’s legacy.
“It’s still going on,” he said. “It’s impressive, but I don’t want to pay him too many compliments. We don’t want him to add to it.”
A poster of Duncan surrounded by five championship trophies is not what Bosh or the Heat have in mind, in other words.