Once upon a time Chris Bosh scored 40 points in a game. He actually did this 9 times. And then Pat Riley happened, Pat Riley and his Big Three dreams and plans. Riley, the ultimate salesman, sold Chris Bosh on the concept of sacrifice for championship mythology. It does not matter if you are hated when you are on top because… you are on top. And so it was a young Chris Bosh who attached himself to Lebron James and Dwayne Wade and the idea that greatness is the birth child of the talented. It was a genius concept even as there was a long term price for Chris Bosh whom fans liked until he went to Miami. Then they despised him.
Once upon a time Chris Bosh saved a championship. He actually did this. He got a rebound, passed it to Ray Allen and the Heat tied the series and played a game 7. In that game 7 Chris Bosh had 0 points, 7 rebounds. He missed all 5 shots he attempted. But he had his second NBA title.
In no more than 10 days Chris Bosh has to make a decision. Because Pat Riley did it again. He dreamed it up. He plotted it out. He planned it and then he sold it to the players. Because Riley is a former player and champion he has better insight on what star players are motivated by. Yes they want money but they also want to win. They want to be relevant. They want to be talked about. They want to be on television. They want every conversation to begin and end with their name. And so this is what Riley has done. He has devised a plan to add Carmelo Anthony to a team with Chris Bosh. Carmelo would add that additional scorer. It would be impossible for teams to capitalize on the Heat when Lebron is no longer in the game. But as good as it all sounds in a fantasy basketball way, Chris Bosh is the lone wolf in this situation. Chris Bosh is the weak or the strong link. Chris Bosh is the alpha and the omega. Simply put, Chris Bosh is everything.
If Lebron does not opt out this year, he is due to make $22 million next year, a raise of 7.5%. If he opts out because of the Big Four (Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Bosh) he would have to take a 35% pay cut and accept $14 million a year. If Wade does not opt out this year, he is due to make $21 million next year, a raise of 7.5%. If he opts out because of the Big Four he would have to take at least a 33% pay cut or more and accept somewhere south of $14 million. If Carmelo Anthony does not opt out this year, he is due to make $23 million dollars next year, a raise of 9%. If he opts out because of the Big Four he would have to take a 38% pay cut and accept 14 million a year. If Chris Bosh does not opt out he is due to make the same amount of money as Lebron James. But if he does opt out and stay with Miami he will suffer more than Lebron James, he will suffer more than Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony put together, he will lose the most.
People actual forget who Chris Bosh was before the Big Three. In his last five years in Toronto he averaged 23 points a game on 49% shooting. He averaged 7 rebounds. He was their best player, their go to guy, the one person who touched the ball on most of their possessions. When the Raptors won it was because of Chris. When they lost it was because of Chris. He was the sun and the moon. At the time it was a no brainer to flee dismal Toronto and be the third wheel in Miami. As intelligent as Chris is, he could not predict the future so he had no idea what lay ahead, not the success, not the critique and ugliness.
But if Bosh left Miami tomorrow- and some Lakers fans hope he will- he would be a max player on any team that wanted him. He is a stretch four who has an inside/outside game, can handle the ball, make pressure plays and fit within a team construct. He is good in pick and roll and is agile all over the court and a finisher. And most importantly he can sacrifice his own ego for the good of the team which is what he has done these past four years.
If Lebron is the most maligned and criticized player in the NBA, Chris Bosh is close behind. But the tradeoff- two championships, trying for the enigmatic three in a row, make it manageable. But what if the Miami Heat lose? What if his sacrifice and sportsmanship and team values, in the end, mean he has two NBA titles and two NBA Finals losses and a reputation he may never recover?
The question is will Chris Bosh take a huge pay cut when the only thing he will get out of it are rings and even that isn’t a sure thing. Dwayne Wade is devolving. He is not the same player he was when all this started. Lebron is exhausted and his defense this year is not the same suffocating, physical punishment it was when he did not have back to back to back to back 100 game seasons. Chris is the freshest of the three, he just isn’t asked to do as much, to carry either the offensive load or the defensive load like Lebron or Wade. Add Carmelo into the mix and that means Chris goes into the post as the center, a position he doesn’t want to play. He gets less touches. Miami’s defense is not better with Carmelo who has never defended with any level of aggression or interest. There will be another adjustment, another getting to know each other’s games while the rest of the league is becoming more experienced.
What is it that Chris Bosh wants? Respect? Money? Recognition? Is it enough for him to be part of the most talked about/hated team in a decade? Is it enough for him to hang on to the fringes and wait his turn like he did last year when in game 6 in the NBA Finals all of Miami thanked Chris Bosh for that rebound and that pass to Ray Allen? Is the money less important than the history, is that why he keeps himself attached to Lebron James, why he sacrifices for him and because of him.
Pat Riley believes he can convince Chris Bosh to sign up for another tour of duty and to be the Miami Heat whipping boy while James and Wade and Anthony get all of the glory and Chris gets the leftovers and the rings. Perhaps he is low maintenance enough so that winning is all that matters. If that is true than he is the exception, he is different than most human beings on this earth who want to be noticed and want to be paid and want to be appreciated.
In 10 days it’s all in play. Carmelo decides to opt out or not. As does Chris. Then the Pat Riley nightmare (at least for the rest of the league) begins.