If you are a fan of the site you will know how hard I have been on Chris Bosh the past 18 months.
Unlike the vast majority of the NBA universe, I do not get on the guy because he is the easy target, nor because he is simply the weak link or at least the lesser talent of Miami’s Big 3, rather I have such issues with Chris Bosh because I know what he can do and we have seen it so little in a Heat uniform.
Chris Bosh was not only a perennial All Star upon joining Miami two summers ago, but he was widely considered as the best power forward in the game and one of the most skilled big men of the past decade. He was near un-guardable during his final few seasons at Toronto, dragging a truly awful team into the playoffs over consecutive seasons.
Bosh has the ability, perhaps unlike any other big man in the league, to take his opponent off the dribble. Everyone is familiar with his lethal midrange jumper, but perhaps the area of his game that makes him the mismatch he has proved to be is his ability to pump fake and put the ball on the floor to get a better look and generally make the correct basketball play.
He was the perfect fit alongside Wade and James because he wouldn’t clog up the lane, he takes attention off the wing stars, he will hit the open looks Wade and James manufacture for him and he can take the scoring and rebounding load off his higher profile teammates.
However, as we have learned over the past 18 months, winning an NBA Championship is much, much harder than it seems. Fantasy basketball, unlike in video games, does not guarantee immediate rings in the real world, nor does it overwhelm opponents in the fashion we all believed it would. Most of the Heat players are on record as saying they thought it would have been much easier than it was, but I think there are obvious reasons why this is the case.
The center and point guard positions are the glaring holes for the Heat. We don’t need to rehash the same pukey analysis on that.
I want to focus on what Chris Bosh has been doing, or more importantly, what he has not been doing.
Unlike his career in Toronto, the theme of Bosh’s Heat tenure has been inconsistency. Bosh will offer up a 9/14 shooting 25 point 11 rebound performance in a big Miami win, but the very next night shoot 4/18 with 9 points and 3 rebounds. He has developed into the single most frustrating player in the league.
Without a doubt Chris Bosh is the most important member of the Miami Heat. By no means is he the best player, he may not even be the best power forward (James is unstoppable at the 4) but my god when he is on his game the Heat are unbeatable.
When Chris Bosh is playing aggressive, demanding the ball in the low post and hitting the wide open shots James and Wade find for him, Miami can’t be stopped. Whether you’re Chicago, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles or San Antonio, if you have Chris Bosh scoring 25+ on 50%+ shooting, with Wade and James flying in from the wings and Chalmers, Miller and Jones nailing three pointers, it’s going to be a bloodbath. That’s what we saw during the Celtics and Bulls series’ in the 2011 playoffs. It’s what we’ve seen every time the Heat have registered the double digit blowouts over fellow contenders that remind everyone what his team is capable of.
Every player goes through runs of poor form, of bad shooting, of inefficiency. But that is not what is plaguing Chris Bosh’s impact. It’s a mental thing.
I don’t want to be the guy that sits in front of his computer and accuses a professional athlete of whom is in the top 15 in the world at his sport and someone that has achieved great things throughout his career, but there is no other way to put it.
The recent Thunder loss was the best example of this. Going up against two of the most physical big men in the game, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, was never going to be an easy task, but Chris Bosh found a way to make it more difficult. If you are going up against a physical player, you have to match, or at least try to match, their output. If they are shoving you then you shove right back. If they’re throwing elbows then you grab that rebound and swing your arms as hard as you can.
Chris Bosh was clearly overawed, over powered, out manned. He is more talented than Perkins and Ibaka put together, but when it comes to that scrappy mentality that every big man needs, he is severely lacking.
By far the most fragile star mentally in the league, Bosh faded in and out of the dog fight series’ against the Celtics and Bulls, particularly when guarding Garnett and Noah. If Bosh gets a few shots to go on the offensive end, maybe a dunk or an old fashioned three point play, you’ll see a different Chris Bosh on both ends of the court. Jawing and jibing at his opposition, blocking shots, making deflections, taking charges, taking the ball to the rim, all the heads up aggressive plays we saw throughout his Toronto career.
However, should Bosh miss 2, 3, 4, 5 jumpers in a row, maybe get scored on a few times, his head drops, he hesitates to take open shots, he allows himself to be pushed out of the game, effectively leaving Miami with 4 perimeter players.
Eric Spoelstra sent James and Wade on a mission to develop their post games, making them play their game within 18ft of the rim. This was not only to exploit their less athletic opponents, but also incase Bosh was in one of his funks and the Heat needed easy/good looks and buckets.
If Chris Bosh realises he is the key to fulfilling the Heat’s legendary status, Miami will continue to fall short of expectations.
LeBron James is the best player. Dwyane Wade is the captain. Udonis Haslem the spiritual leader.
Chris Bosh holds the fate of this team in his hands. Should he decide to be the player Miami needs him to be, there is no ceiling to what this team can achieve. They are the greatest combination of elite talent the league has ever seen.
The 72 win Chicago Bulls are consensually regarded as the greatest team of all time. Bill Russell’s Celtics and Magic’s Showtime Lakers are not far behind. Should Chris Bosh decide he wants something more, this Miami Heat team could blow those other great teams into oblivion.
He will never receive the accolades, he won’t achieve the awards and he’ll never reach their status, but mark my words, if the Miami Heat win the Championships they promised, it will be because of Chris Bosh.