Chris Bosh has been all over the written and televised world lately:
Eric Koreen - "Miami Heat's Chris Bosh thriving as Pippen to Lebron James' Jordan"
Jordan White - "Winning Like A Bosh"
Kirk Goldsberry - "Best Supporting Actor"
Tom Haberstroh - "The Reinvention of Chris Bosh"
Scott Rafferty - "An Adaptation of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Chris Bost Meets CB4"
Paul Flannery - "Chris Bosh is the NBA's Last Honest Man"
There used to be a Chris Bosh growth chart on the wall of my childhood bedroom. It's all the more strange to realize that it wasn't a kid hanging this thing up. It made the move to college, too. It was a cool, playful thing to do. Before he had even left the club, it'd been thrown into the garbage. Despite averaging 23-10-2-1-1 for 5 years straight while growing into his body, and sharing the starting lineup with Jamario Moon and Joey Graham, being playful and funny and interesting was no way to help Toronto drag itself out of mediocrity. He scored more career points for the Raptors than Vince Carter, superstar supernova, a 24-hour-a-day highlight reel, and he did it with a revolving door of defensive Kevin O'Neill-type coaches and a return for Vince that included 4 servings of emptiness. Bosh was left on a squad nothing to work with, and was never given any remedy, as every botched draft pick and free agent signing hastened his exit.
He was said to be soft, and got pushed out of the paint by Kirk Hinrich, taking a fade-away over a point guard when the Raptors needed a win. He complained about needing his team to carry their weight, while on the same Yahoo front page, underneath that quote, was Brandon Roy saying that if Portland couldn't win as things were, it was Roy himself that needed to do more.
These juxtapositions furthered the dislike of Bosh. He doesn't have the drive to win. How come he can play tough D in the Olympics, but not Toronto? Is he just another Vince, a softie saving his body for when he leaves? Of course, seeing someone carry the terrible offence for years, it's obvious there's no way he could play the same way on D, but he was asked to be too much. He pouts and he cries, not because he hates losing, but because he's a wuss, a girl. Good riddance.
Chris Bosh puts up the most empty 20 and 10 ever seen. He's Zach Randolph, explained with derision. At some point, Z-Bo broke out nationally, and "Bosh is Z-Bo" morphed into "I wish we had Z-Bo instead of that whiner Bosh." Then we had neither.
Bosh took his 20 and 10 to Miami and turned it into a 15 and 7, simultaneously putting up fewer numbers and becoming all the more dangerous as he stretched outside. His slender frame became a weapon rather than a curse. As recently as Game 2 of the finals he hit a dagger 3 to win the game. That's impossible if Bosh plays how we always wanted, clogging up the lane, putting up his empty 20 and 10.
He's often very criticized for his candor, but he's right to say he's not interested in banging around down low anymore. The league has changed even in his few years, and it could be argued he never was interested in doing so. But as the league stretches further out toward the 3 point line, Bosh doesn't really make sense in the paint for the Heat to have their best shot to win. A man in the paint cuts the most important section of the court from of Lebron's range, clogging his slashes to the net. Bosh works specifically because he's able to draw the big men away from the rim, allowing Lebron to slash inside, confident that his release valve is waiting, cocked and ready to hit an open jumper over just about any player in the league.
In 2011, hammering him for falling down in the hallway crying after the Heat beat Dallas, fans and writers across the world couldn't wait to sink their hooks into his back. Despite his public proclivity for frank emotion, Bosh was a diva, a faker. The Heat were villains, and Dallas - a team of well coached castaways around an aging Dirk Nowitzki - upset the heavily favoured champs. It was laughable, that tumbling down in tears, because Miami received its comeuppance, the year following a season heavy with speculation that Bosh would join those very Mavericks in his hometown. On a team loaded with stars that turned the league against some of its best players ever, it was the role playing Tyson Chandler that swung the series against Miami.
Bosh acknowledges the need to be chameleonic in the NBA, as well as life. He knows he has to change his game to fit Lebron and the Heat's 4-out strategy, and he knows there are things in life outside of work. He makes videos. He learns languages out of a personal challenge. He learned how to code and use the Adobe creative suite. He's a completely atypical NBA player and he was crucified for it. Sometimes he still is. Chris Bosh is interested in the same things we are. Chris Bosh is us. NBA fans, Toronto fans, Bosh. One and the same. Maybe that's why we don't like him. None of us are heroes. If he's like us, how can he be anything but an average person with a public life that we can tear down, enabling us to keep ourselves above the water?
Ray Allen's impossible game-tying 3 in Game 6 was set up in part by Bosh's length gathering the offensive rebound, and his confidence that Ray would go where he needed to go. This gave him his second straight ring in a career that's seen him play in nine straight NBA All-Star games. There's early talk about Chris Bosh landing in the Hall of Fame, despite the fact that he's never been the Man on a winner. Yet he's barely over halfway through his career. Laughed at for riding the coattails of Lebron and Wade, it's likely that neither of the aforementioned superstars win a ring without Chris Bosh. It is now Wade clinging to a thread as his classmates grow, hanging on as his body fails.
Bosh can become a free agent this summer or next, by his own choice, and will be one regardless after 2016. Strangely, lifelong Heat Wade, and repeat champion Lebron James are non-committal about their futures, while Bosh seems comfortable staying in Miami for the duration of his career.
As teams enter each summer with more and more cap space than ever before, it wouldn't be unlikely for every single one of the other 29 teams to find the money and space for a player that has shown repeatedly he can mould himself into a weapon, depending on the system. Stage 2 of Chris Bosh's career is winding down, setting him up for a host of destinations and outcomes, none of which, at this point, should surprise any of us, knowing as much and as little about Chris Bosh as we do.