'Third man' Chris Bosch taking Heat well

In Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, Chris Bosh, so often overshadowed by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, offered a reminder to everyone why the Miami Heat consider him to be part of a trio of key players.

Chris Bosh, shooting, is gradually fitting into the new scheme of things at Miami Heat and is coming into his own.
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Chris Bosh has fought the perception all season. He's the third wheel, the forgotten star, the one who would never shine like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

When Carlos Boozer, the Chicago Bulls forward, said his team would be up against two great players from Miami in the NBA play-offs, few had any doubt about which one of the Heat's "Big Three" he was omitting.

On Sunday, Chris Bosh, so often overshadowed by Wade and James, offered a reminder to Boozer - and anyone else who has taken digs at him this season - exactly why the Heat consider him to be part of a trio of key players.

Bosh made 13 of his final 15 shots on the way to a 34-point night as the Heat remained unbeaten at home in the post-season by beating the Chicago Bulls 96-85 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.

The Heat lead the series 2-1 ahead of Game 4 tonight in Miami. The Bulls are unlikely to underestimate Bosh again.

Boozer, though, is by no means the only one to have slighted - intentionally or otherwise - Bosh, the 27-year-old Texan.

The Heat have become the team that many love to hate and Bosh, who at times in the 82-game regular season didn't deliver the numbers that many expected from him, became the target of a lot of criticism.

Bosh, a player who reads, thinks and speaks his mind, said he was well aware of the commentary on his contribution.

"I'm human," he said. "I really don't care for it and if it isn't positive, I don't listen to it. I know I am a good ball player. There is always going to be someone throwing rocks, no matter what you do."

But Bosh, who left Toronto as a free agent prior to this season, is frank enough to concede he found the transition from being the main man with the Raptors to becoming part of a trio of match-winners at Miami, to be tough.

"It was extremely difficult. There was a point when I really didn't know how I was going to be able to be effective. But I still have to have that aggressiveness that I had.

"Of course, I am not going to get as many play calls. I know that, with two other great players and a great team. But you just have to be aggressive and have the swagger and belief in myself," he said.

Part of the process of coming to terms with his new position was, he said, learning how to handle his own ego.

"Nobody really tells you that. Nobody says that is going to be something you have to worry about. Everybody is going to go through it in a different way and ego is part of that. I didn't know that I had that big of an ego."

If Bosh has surprised himself, he has also given his teammates the chance to be alongside a player who doesn't fit many of the stereotypes of an NBA player.

"He is different," Wade said. "He's Chris Bosh. We understand that he is a guy who internalises a lot of things.

"When he speaks out, though, he is very educated, very smart. He thinks things out. Before games a lot of guys listen to music - Chris though, he has [his] head in a book. That calms him, gets him ready for the game.

"We can buy some more books for him. He can read all day. He's Chris Bosh. He's different, yes."

Wade got the phone call that pushed the move towards three stars in Miami into overdrive, when Bosh dialled him up last summer and said, "I'm feeling Miami."

With that, Wade decided to stay with the Heat, and James made his decision to join them a day or so later.

They came together to win titles and are now two wins away from heading to the NBA finals.