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Chris Bosh talks 'Redeem Team', being a team player, and adjusting to retirement

The two-time NBA champion and Olympic gold medallist joined the Olympic Channel Podcast for an in-depth interview about Beijing 2008, playing with Kobe Bryant, and devoting himself to his family.

By Ed Knowles ·

Chris Bosh was part of the USA's men's basketball team at Beijing 2008 nicknamed the 'Redeem Team’.

Featuring a young LeBron James, an experienced Kobe Bryant, and a hungry Carmelo Anthony, this talented roster was tasked with winning gold after the disappointment of Athens 2004.

And Bosh was faced with a problem he had not encountered before.

"I knew that I can average 20 plus points a game as an [NBA] All-Star in my regular normal NBA basketball life,” he said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“This game is different. We're going for a gold medal.”

It meant Bosh had to force himself to take a supporting role.

"We have to sacrifice to be a part of a team. I don't care what team you're on. I don't care if it's making podcasts or cleaning floors."

Bosh explains why he took that step back in 2008 to help the USA win back Olympic gold, how he coped mentally with stepping away from the game prematurely, and how to motivate yourself when life gets tough.

"It takes a team effort to do things." - Chris Bosh on his role with the Redeem Team

Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant celebrate at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

The Redeem Team

Olympic Channel (OC): So let's talk about the Redeem Team. What was it like being on the plane? What was it like going to an Olympics with that intense pressure to win?

Chris Bosh (CB): I was more worried about playing. Everybody was all-in because we had been embarrassed in the last two competitions, the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 World Championships. We fell short there too. And I was on the team and we lost to Greece.

"When you lose a basketball game as the USA team - it's very embarrassing." - Chris Bosh

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So we were the 'Redeem Team’. We already had the name coming into the whole thing.

It was a very serious atmosphere. I do remember how much pressure it was on us. For me, I was just trying to get some playing time.

I wanted to be a more of a team player and do whatever the team needed. I have been humbled in that aspect. We had Kobe [Bryant]. You can't let him down! He hadn't won a gold medal! He was he was serious from the jump. So, the tone was set and it was always serious.

Just making the team, you wear it with pride. I wanted to play minutes. I wanted to earn my minutes out there.

"We had such a stacked team and we were very, very young, but very talented." - Chris Bosh on the Redeem Team

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Finding the right balance at Beijing 2008

OC: I think that team especially had like a lot of pressure not only to win, but to win in a style that was kind of befitting. It had to be a moral win as well as the gold medal. So it must’ve been a nice feeling to be on that podium with a gold medal regardless of how many minutes you played?

CB: It's always very tough to sacrifice… in basketball terms, sometimes just minutes, sometimes shot attempts. Sometimes, it's attention.

These are all things that your ego doesn't like and will naturally be a thing you have to fight. And not to say that you lose every battle, but it is to say that people that overcome things to get a team win.

Because your feelings are your feelings. You're going to want more shots. I want more responsibility. I want to play more. Everybody wants to play.

I knew that, ‘OK, I'm playing with Kobe Bryant, D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and Melo (Carmelo Anthony). I'm probably not going to get that many shots, so let me get out the way.’

It takes a beat because most of the time guys say, ‘Hey, give me the ball because I can make something happen.’

Lucky for me, that year I recognised it, was able to contribute, and have more of a focus on the defensive end to give them space on offence.

Miami Heat retired the number one in honour of Chris Bosh's career in 2019

Retirement and taking the next step

OC: After some serious medical issues, you eventually retired in 2019. How do you shut the door on the career? It wasn't a choice walking away from basketball when you did. How tough was that mentally?

CB: It was difficult. First and foremost, not being able to play the game, the sport, the job that I love the most ever. Basketball was pretty much my first love. Despite being able to play the length that I played at the time, I felt that I was still an All-Star.

I still felt that year that Miami could compete for championships. It's like an unfinished chapter. In retrospect, I was still on top of my game, figuring life after LeBron [leaving] and trying to re-establish myself as a figure in the game of basketball.

Chris Bosh at his Miami Heat jersey retirement ceremony

I was really looking forward to that portion of my career. It never even really got off the ground. It was so difficult to adjust in the first couple of years. How automatically trained I was to live in that life, and me realising that I have been doing this since I was 19 years old. And, man, that's all I've been doing. I haven't done anything else.

I have five children. Small things that you have to get used to. You don't even realise how noisy they are and how much they like to play. And once they figured out I was home every day, it was, 'Dad! Dad! Dad!'. That's a huge responsibility and it takes time to adjust to that... one day I was playing and then the next day I wasn't.

You're not going to walk off into a sunset with a championship. It rarely happens. So I just had to come to grips with that. I just started pouring myself into my family.

"I eventually came to appreciate the great career that I had as opposed to sulking about my fixation on how it should have been."

Chris Bosh at a fashion event

OC: Just showing up is sometimes one of the hardest things. And what you're doing and continue to do are evidence that you've moved on even though it was hard.

CB: You might not feel the best. You might not be in the best place, but get out of bed, go to the gym, just get in there. Get in the office. Just go to the thing! Go to the meeting!

Because that in itself symbolises hope for yourself. I always like the mental toughness aspect. It's very important to have mental toughness and be prepared to go through hard things.

You just have to you have to persevere and just fight through things. I think that was definitely one of the big challenges for me. And it still is a challenge to this day. I mean, I'm not going to say that I don't wish I played basketball anymore. Do I miss it? Yes, sure.

But I see these guys playing now and I'm like, ‘Yeah, I'm not I'm not running up and down that fast anymore’. I know how hard [it is]! I don't want to do that. I'm in a flow doing my other hard work.

And if I hurt my knee, I'll mess up my real job!

Listen to the full interview on the Olympic Channel Podcast, also available wherever you get your podcasts.