Lost amongst the Bosh and Colangelo pettiness is the true off-season loser, Raptors fans...
"With everything that's happened, I don't want all of this to erase what we all went through together. We did 7 years together. We had ups and downs...I put my heart and soul and emotion into that locker room and into that organization...just because I'm somewhere that doesn't erase that, that doesn't take that away."
Those words were spoken by Chris Bosh Thursday evening in an exclusive interview with Rogers' Sportsnet here in Canada. If you haven't seen it yet, check parts one and two below:
It was an interesting interview for various reasons, most notably perhaps because it was a bit of a "return shot" in what has become a slight war of words between Bosh and his former General Manager, Bryan Colangelo.
Recently of course, Colangelo spoke to the Fan590 about the Bosh situation and called his former star out on various levels; from questioning CB4's decision not to return from an ankle sprain in February as soon as he could have, to noting that he had tried everything to build around Bosh, but that nothing worked. There were various other insinuations as well, all of which seemed to add up to "Bosh quit on his team post-All-Star break."
From his side, and as you can see/hear above, Bosh states that he never quit on the team and essentially gave 110% every time he stepped on the court.
Before getting into "who's right and who's wrong" here, I first want to say that I hate this entire situation.
To me, the simple fact of the matter is that Bosh did work his ass off 90% of the time, but became disillusioned with the team's performance as last season unfolded, didn't put the effort that he could have in post All-Star break, and whether he wants to admit it or not, was seduced by the free-agency possibilities.
I'm not really sure how he can deny the latter part considering he's spoken publicly about discussions with James and Wade in the past, and even in this interview he emphasizes his desire to play "on TNT" in front of his family. It's not like he just started having those types of thoughts over the past few months.
It's a bit like dating a girl for a long time, then meeting one of her friends, one who you are more physically attracted to and who you really hit it off with. Maybe you find yourself and her friend constantly socializing whenever all of you are together, and try as you may, you can't shake the idea that you should leave your long-time girlfriend for a shot at her friend. So while maybe you don't actually end things with your girl till weeks or months later, mind-set wise, the shift took place a long time ago.
Maybe it's true that Bosh didn't actually decide he was leaving Toronto till the last minute, but I feel pretty certain that mentally he had at least partially checked out months ago.
My girl Holly MacKenzie, in a recent post on this subject, echoes this a bit saying that she felt when Bosh said he "never, ever in his life stepped onto a basketball court and not given his all," he really believed this was the case.
And I think he did too.
The problem is, he may have believed it, but fans who watched Bosh the last seven years, the same Bosh who cried in his rookie season out of frustration with his team's apathetic play, know better. There was just something missing post-All-Star break, especially on the defensive end.
If you want to go with stats, go with stats: Bosh is a 6-foot-11 guy with major hops and long arms who blocked six shots in his last 17 games as a Raptor.
And for those less-statistically inclined, you just had to watch the games.
Late last year on the site, writers and readers both noted the change in CB4, not only in terms of the "little things" he typically did on the court, but also his demeanor.
So in that vein, yes, Colangelo may be correct that Chris wasn't the player at the end of last season that he was at the start. That's fine.
I'd say more like "dialed down the volume from 10 to 8."
And even so, this just takes me back to my whole "I hate this situation" stance.
Because not only did the team lose Bosh and failed to replace him with even a close facsimile, but then Bosh promptly went on a vomit-inducing TMZ fest, and now the club's GM has taken a page from Dan Gilbert's book on sour grapes, publicly bashing his former franchise player despite constantly making public overtures about re-signing the former G-Tech stud in the months and off-seasons leading up to last July.
Oh...and let's not even get into the fact that Colangelo's own moves helped facilitate Bosh's departure.
No, the real losers here unfortunately are the fans.
Had Bosh simply decided to go to Miami, took his game to South Beach and not popped up on the NY Stock Exchange, Jimmy Fallon and subjected ardent fans to tweets about the Hamptons, then that would have been it. Sure, losing a player of Bosh's calibre would have sucked, but the vast majority of Raptors' fans going into the off-season felt no ill-will towards Bosh regarding leaving Toronto. Simply put, he had given the team seven great years and management had failed to surround him with the proper talent to achieve much success. Even if you feel Bosh was never a "franchise-type player," it's hard to argue that he had much high-calibre assistance during those seven years.
Solid role players?
Nary a one.
And now, all this mudslinging has done is helped draw negative attention to Toronto and the Raptors organization, digging up old stereotypes and as we discussed yesterday, put the focus away from basketball and on topics like "is Toronto a viable basketball market for the NBA."
Great. Instead of looking at the positives in terms of the team's young talent, now that same talent constantly has to field questions about "how cold is it really in Toronto," and how they feel about Bosh's decision.
Not exactly the type of off-season story fans were hoping would be written.
And for this I blame both Bosh and Colangelo. Bosh could have walked off into the sunset in a classy manner and thanked fans and management for his time here. Colangelo could have done the same, thanking Bosh for his hard work and effort and wished him well in the future.
Instead, fans are stuck between two egos, one that is now finally realizing many of his individual goals, drunk off the LeBron and Wade blend South-Beach Tequila, and another that is attempting to deflect criticism for overestimating his hand at the Bosh poker table, losing a true superstar thanks in part to his own personnel decisions over the past few years.
This wasn't the way things were supposed to go and next season if you're booing Bosh, I hope you're saving some jeers for BC as well.