Last July, the Miami Heat held a pep rally to welcome LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the team and to celebrate Dwyane Wade staying in Miami. By now the entire basketball world has seen all of three of them come out on stage and flex their muscles for Heat fans while Bosh screamed like Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart.
As much as the celebration (I wish Dave Chappelle was there in his Rick James costume: “It’s a celebration $%@!”) and proclamation that the team would win multiple titles irked people; there was something else that bothered most of basketball fans.
My friend Karim lives and breathes the NBA; and he was the first to point it out to me: what was Chris Bosh doing on the stage with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? In his mind, the former Raptors star was not on their level and thus should be introduced separately at a press conference or something of the sort. Talk of this being a great team should start and end with the “big two” according to him.
Consequently, Karim made the bold statement that Bosh was far from irreplaceable and that in fact even a broom could do his job. The unintended message that he put out was that the former Georgia Tech star would simply get to clean up after Wade and James; mind you what he meant to say was that there were several players in the league that could easily replicate the job that Bosh would be doing for the Heat.
And who could argue? Bosh’s 2010-11 regular season numbers:
Come to think about it, those are solid numbers. And if we dig deeper, only nine players in the league this year were able to average at least 18 points and eight rebounds per game on 49 percent field goal shooting or better. The list:
- Pau Gasol
- Dwight Howard
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Zach Radolph
- Chris Bosh
- Blake Griffin
- Amare Stoudemire
- Al Jefferson
- Luis Scola
For the most part, those players are first or second options on their respective teams whereas Bosh comes up as the third option. Bosh has clearly been able to maximize his opportunities despite only coming in third in his team’s pecking order.
And yet, much like the general public, Karim never backed off his stance. Chris Bosh was good but not that good. It would only be a matter of time before CB would start the playoffs and shrink under the pressure. His playoff numbers:
One could argue that statistically Bosh has had two very good series and two subpar ones so far in this postseason. But simply looking at his numbers would belittle his contributions to the Heat. Indeed, we would be ignoring how he has played some good defense in these playoffs, always defending his man and also showing on screens and getting back to his original assignment. We would also be ignoring every proper defensive rotation that he has made that led to an opponent’s offense bogging down.
Furthermore, given how opposing teams defend the Heat offense (trapping pick and rolls and tilting defenses towards Wade and James), Bosh’s presence usually helps change the defensive looks to some degree. His ability to hit open jumpers and attack single coverage makes him a tough cover for just about anyone in the league.
And yet, no matter how well he plays, if the team loses, some of the criticism often gets thrown his way. Take Game 2 of the Finals for instance; Bosh had an astonishingly bad game, but Miami lost that contest because they took their foot off the gas pedal and failed to run a decent offense late in the game. But Bosh still drew a lot of heat for his performance and for giving up the game winning lay up to Nowitzki.
But if we look at Game 3, the Heat power forward had trouble converting shots but still managed to shoot more free throws than his superstar teammates and had enough testicular fortitude to take and make the game winning jumper to give the Heat a 2-1 series lead.
Bosh essentially got the blame for Dirk’s lay in Game 2 but probably will not get much credit for his game deciding shot in Game 3. The narrative will be that he was open and thus had no choice but to make it. Peja Stojakovic disagrees with that assessment though.
Deep down, we all know that Bosh is better than about three quarters of the rest of the league; perhaps we should leave it at that and stop trying to compare him to his star teammates.
Chris Bosh might not be the best power forward in the league, but he is most certainly in the upper echelon of players at his position. So is it safe to say that Bosh is probably better than a broom? I would venture and say that Bosh would probably get a kick out of the question and react just like 50 Cent.
Just remember, brooms don’t make game winning shots in the Finals…