Chris Bosh is going to stand by his woman - even though her boisterous trash-talking from a courtside seat may have lit a fire under Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James at the worst possible time for the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
"People ask me, 'Is she always like that?' " Bosh said yesterday of his girlfriend, Alison, a five-foot pixie with a voice like a piccolo. "I'm, like, 'Come to the game Wednesday.' People don't know that, but they know it now."
The pair have been dating for more than a year and Alison has been a regular in his front-row section of seats opposite the Raptors' bench without previous incident, though she's easily one of the most enthusiastic fans in the building.
But Sunday's developments put Bosh, the Raptors' all-star forward, in a doubly awkward position.
Not only did he have to digest a humbling defeat at the Air Canada Centre, where his NBA team blew a 20-point lead for the largest cough-up on home court in franchise history; he had to explain what his girlfriend was doing and why.
James awoke after three quarters of hibernation to scald Toronto with a Cavaliers-record 24 points in the fourth quarter and hand the Raptors a third consecutive loss at home.
James burning the Raptors is nothing new. He scored a career-most 56 points against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in 2005; he has two of his 14 career triple-doubles against Toronto, including a 37-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist gem this season.
But why did he erupt on Sunday?
According to highlights captured on the Cavaliers' broadcast, it appears James took particular note of Bosh's girlfriend after she teased him about missing a breakaway dunk midway through the third quarter with the Raptors leading by 11.
It was part of an uncharacteristically cold third quarter for James. The NBA's leading scorer was 2-for-9 in the quarter while shooting at the basket from near the Raptors' bench and Bosh's girlfriend's seat.
But that changed quickly. Shooting on the same basket, James hit eight of his 10 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter, including four of five three-point shots, as well as assisting on three more three-pointers as the Cavaliers stormed back.
Late in the game, James had the last word, as the cameras caught him approaching the corner where Bosh's friends and family were sitting and saying, "It's your fault, it's your fault."
The high jinks were noted by Raptors club president Bryan Colangelo, though he wasn't about to lay the blame for his team's meltdown at the feet of anyone other than the players and its coaching staff, preferring to make note of the 20 offensive rebounds his team conceded and the nine free throws it missed.
"When I was made aware of it, it was surprising," Colangelo said. "But that can't possibly be the excuse that we use for an inexcusable fourth-quarter meltdown."
Besides, Bosh's girlfriend wasn't alone in taunting the player known as King James. According to CBC sideline reporter Elliotte Friedman, Raptors guards T.J. Ford and Darrick Martin, both inactive for the game, were heckling James.
"He was glaring down Martin and Ford, but once he got hot, they started telling everyone to leave him alone, but it was too late," Friedman said. "He was already mad and [the talk]had really fuelled him, obviously."
For his part - and to his credit - Bosh wasn't about to pin the tough loss on his girlfriend, either.
"I don't know what they said, but LeBron, he's burned us before," said Bosh, who chatted with James after the game and introduced the Cleveland star to Alison's mother and brother, who were in town for the game. "This isn't the first big game he's had and it's not the first big game he's had against us.
"People don't know this, but they know each other, they've met before. It wasn't anything personal ... it was nothing negative."
That said, Bosh said that when the Cavaliers are next in Toronto - which, unless the two clubs meet in the playoffs, won't be until next season - James will get the full sleeping dog treatment.
"She's free to do what she wants," Bosh said of his No. 1 fan.
"But I said, 'Don't talk to LeBron any more.' "