Chris Bosh was ‘close’ to leaving Heat, but now ready for a new challenge

Chris Bosh returns will be the Heat's highest-paid player next season.

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The way Chris Bosh sees it, he was glad to be more than 5,000 miles away from home when NBA free agency heated up to a boiling point early July. The sheer amount of rumors and speculation surrounding the Miami Heat and, more specifically, where Bosh and his fellow teammates were heading was enough to convince him of that.

"It was kind of nuts," Bosh said Thursday in an interview with Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor on the "The Ticket Morning Show" in Miami, his first public comments since signing his five-year maximum contract Wednesday. "I remember being in Africa — I was in Ghana — and we were just watching on the Internet and Twitter and all of these things going on and it was like, ‘Man, I think we made the right decision by getting out of the country for a couple of weeks until this settles.’ "

However, one report that apparently was true was just how close Bosh was to joining the Houston Rockets once LeBron James had announced his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 11.

"It was close, I’m not going to lie," Bosh admitted. "It was close. It was just a weird situation only because we were waiting so long and I didn’t know what was going on.

"I think you’re always in a situation where it’s going to be extremely close — even if you don’t leave — in that situation because teams got very aggressive on me. And I guess as soon as LeBron made up his mind, that’s when everything could kind of fall in line. But until then I was just waiting, so I didn’t know what was going on."

Once James was officially gone, the Heat didn’t hesitate to go all out to retain the services of the versatile 11-year veteran who has been an All-Star in every season since his third year in the NBA.

Officially back

"They stepped right up to the plate and that made my decision easy," he told The Ticket. "As soon as LeBron made up his mind, they came to me with the offer. It wasn’t much to think about it. They showed confidence in me right off the bat and that makes me feel really special. It makes me feel wanted. It makes me feel extremely motivated to rise up to the challenge. I’m happy that they have faith in me."

With the Big Three era a thing of the past and the Heat now faced with the task of regrouping, Bosh is well aware of the place in NBA history that he made with James and Dwyane Wade in Miami.

"We had a historic run," Bosh said. "It was a really, really special thing that we had. It’s over now and when the dust settles, everybody will have time to get their feelings out and they’ll be able to talk about the last four years."

Bosh agreed to terms with the Heat on July 12, long after Pat Riley had locked up newcomers Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger to join several returning players from last season. With a balanced roster featuring several versatile players, he likes their chances in the wide-open Eastern Conference.

"I think we have a very good team," Bosh said. "Just looking at the guys that we’re bringing in, we have a chance to be very good. I know we don’t have the best player in the world anymore; that’s an obvious thing. But team-wise, if we come together we can do a bunch of special things. We’re still going to be competitive. It gives us an opportunity to really play with a chip on our shoulder this year.

"I know it has revitalized my attitude towards basketball a little bit. And I’m really excited."

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.