NEW YORK (AP) - Heat forward Chris Bosh stepped onto the court at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night with one thought in his head.
"I've got to impress my son, the first game he watches," Bosh said.
Someday, the kid is going to love this story.
On the same day his wife gave birth to a son they named Jackson, the All-Star had nine and 10 rebounds in Miami's 87-70 victory over the New York Knicks to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the teams' Eastern Conference first-round series. Bosh arrived at the arena at 6:31 p.m., just 29 minutes before the scheduled tipoff, and didn't miss a moment.
"It's just an amazing thing," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.
The whirlwind started Wednesday night, not long after Bosh tossed down his luggage and flipped on the television in his room at the team hotel. He was going to get some dinner with a friend when his wife Adrienne called with the word: Come home.
Dinner was canceled. Bosh got to the airport and onto a private jet that whisked him to Miami just in time for the birth. The particulars were unclear; Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the baby arrived at 3 a.m., Bosh said it was closer to 4 a.m., and the proud papa acknowledged that he had no idea how long the baby was or what he weighed.
All irrelevant details. Bosh's wife and son were happy and healthy, and soon the plan was hatched to get him back to New York for Game 3.
"A tremendous effort to get here," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. "Man, that's what it's about. Sacrifice. It'd been easy for him to stay home but he got here and he made it about the team and he helped us get this one tonight."
When his plane touched back down in the New York area around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Bosh had flown more than 3,600 miles in a span of about 24 hours. As he scurried into the locker room to get taped, dressed and ready, Bosh's teammates broke into a cheer.
"He's very excited," Spoelstra said before the game. "While he may not be fully rested, he has an incredible amount of excitement right now."
Bosh played 37 minutes, and his 10 rebounds were a team-high.
"That's the easy part. That's my job," Bosh said. "That was the easiest part of the day, just to go out and play basketball. Once we got going, I kind of put it in my mind that I was just going to focus on the game."
Adrienne Bosh posted a photo of her husband boarding the Miami-bound charter jet to a social media account late Wednesday night with the caption of, "Thank God for private flights...Hurry home Baby."
Everything seemed a blur after that.
Bosh didn't sleep on the ride south, then caught about four hours Thursday morning and two more on the plane bringing him back to New York. He said he returned with his wife's permission, and with doctors and nurses urging him to play as well.
"She said it was all right," Bosh said. "She said, 'We're healthy, we're fine, we have more than enough help.'"
Many of Bosh's teammates can relate to what he's going through, juggling family responsibility with the demands of the playoffs. Shane Battier's wife delivered a girl last season while Memphis - Battier's former team - was facing San Antonio in the postseason. Mike Miller's wife gave birth during last season's Heat playoff run, and LeBron James' now-fiancee Savannah Brinson delivered their second child during Cleveland's appearance in the 2007 finals.
James and Wade said they expected Bosh would get back in time for the game.
"It can be physically draining because you don't get much sleep while you're going through that whole process," James said. "But as far as mentally draining, I think the best way to deal with it is make sure the family's OK, make sure his wife of course is OK, and this is a great way to get away from it, to come back here and play the game of basketball."
As he undressed at his locker after the game, Bosh was asked if he'd ever had a better day in his life. He didn't hesitate before answering.
"No. I have not," Bosh said. "I have not."