Chris Bosh was one of the strange ones. He listened. When coaches told him, "think defense more than offense," in high school, he worked overtime on defensive footwork, on positioning, on blocks.
"Everyone likes offense," Bosh said after the Heat's 93-79 win without LeBron James on Sunday against Chicago. "But defense takes dedication."
When he attended Georgia Tech for a year and then Toronto to start his NBA career, the emphasis was inside offense. Pivot and turn. Attack your man. Find a go-to-move.
"I worked on that," he said.
In his second year with the Heat, by now an All-Star and Olympian, Bosh realized something stranger. He still had to change. An outside game was needed. He was practicing his shot one day when teammate Shane Battier made a suggestion.
"Take a step back," he said
Bosh looked a step back. There was the 3-point line. That's something he'd never thought much about. He was asked what he first thought of the 3-point shot.
"It's far," he said.
But he did something we don't talk enough about at the pro level. He worked. It took a while. But as Sunday showed the evolution of Bosh has taken him to a place even he didn't foresee.
He scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds against Chicago. That was nice. But his 4 of 9 3-point shooting stood out. He had the perfect answer to why he took so many shots from distance, too.
"They kept giving me open looks," he said. "After I kind of got a rhythm for it, after the first half, I said, 'OK, I've got to really let it go.' They really packing the paint and I had to draw them out. I took what they gave."
This was a revealing game for the Heat, because without LeBron everyone was reminded what they sacrifice on a championship team. Mario Chalmers' nine assists against two turnovers reminded how he can run the show.
Dwyane Wade's 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists might have just showed what he can do in an expanded role and when healthy. Erik Spoelstra, too, showed how his defensive system works as Chicago scored just 12 points the third quarter and had seven shot-clock violations in the game.
Bosh's expanded role was the easiest to notice, though. He has taken more than Sunday's 23 shots in two other games in his Heat career. Like Sunday, both those games came with LeBron out with an injury.
Easy to see what he sacrifices, right? Shots. Points. Personal glory. It's why, of all the Big Three, Bosh would have the best reason to opt out of his contract this offseason and move on, if he so wanted.
Would you rather be the No. 1 star, praised and celebrated, on a decent team? Or the second or third star on a championship team who's constantly underestimated?
"I'm totally happy in this system with this team and playing with LeBron and Dwyane," he said. "I do have a good time stepping up to a challenge and trying to answer those challenges, but for the most part I like what we've been doing. I'm used to it."
The Heat showed Sunday why they remain the favorite to win the title. It's not just beating an admittedly crippled Chicago team without LeBron. It's how a player like Bosh keeps adding to his game — "reinventing himself 10 years in the league," as Spoelstra said.
"It's taken 3 1/2 years," Bosh said of playing an outside game if the match-up works. "After last year, I stopped fighting it. And I wasn't fighting it last year, but I wasn't entirely [comfortable] with it.
"I'm prepared to play wherever they need me to play. And play well."
At 6-11, extending the outside game won't just help this Heat team. It should extend a big man's career by adding a less-punishing dynamic. Four years ago, he averaged one 3-point attempt every three games and made 24 percent of them.
Now he averages 2.2 a game at a decent 36 percent.
"I look at it like I have a long way to go," Bosh said.
It's that attitude that tells who he is. And, like Sunday's shooting, what's not to like?