Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh
At 1 Sunday afternoon in Glendale, the Arizona Cardinals play the biggest game in franchise history. At 10:30 that morning in chilly Canada, the Phoenix Suns, uh, don't.
The Suns' opponent is the Toronto Raptors, who're battling Mike D'Antoni's Knicks for the basement in the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division. About the most diplomatic thing you can say about the match-up is that it doesn't conflict with Cardinals kickoff. It will cut into our quality time with Terry, Howie, Jimmy, Michael, and Curt on the FOX pregame, however.
Actually, hardcore b-ball hawks do have a solid reason to tune in the Suns/Raptors:
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Toronto forward Chris Bosh is the best player in the NBA who nobody between the Canadian border and the Mason-Dixon Line has heard of (or at least talks about much). The 6-10, 230, fifth-year pro from Georgia Tech plays like a cross between Amar'e Stoudemire and Kevin Garnett, mixing a nice scoring touch with outstanding athleticism that shows up most noticeably on D. This season, he's averaging 23 points and change (four points above his career average) and a touch under 10 boards, and he's far ahead of the rest of the NBA field in 30/10 games. It may say less about Bosh than the franchise he plays for, but after only four full seasons, he's already the all-time Raptors leader in rebounds (offensive and defensive), blocks, double-doubles, and free-throw attempts and conversions.
Another Raptor to look for -- maybe -- is former Indiana Pacers big man Jermaine O'Neal. Now in his 12th year, O'Neal was shipped to Canada by the Pacers last year for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Boston, and the rights to Georgetown center Roy Hibbert. O'Neal's been effective when he's played -- he's right on his career PPG and rebound numbers -- but has been nursing a sore knee for about 10 games, and remains day to day.
Please, Sunnies, have mercy. No overtime. We're begging you.
The scene Sunday's at Air Canada Centre. See www.nba.com/suns. TV: My45 (cable 9). Radio: KTAR-AM 620.