Chris Bosh: Overpaid or Under-Appreciated?
Chris Bosh was one of the headliners of the star-studded free agent bonanza of 2010. At the time of his free agency, he was a 26-year-old power forward coming off the best season of his career. During the 2009-2010 season, Bosh posted career-highs in points (24 points per game), rebounds (10.8 per game) and field goal percentage (51.8%).
Bosh may not have been the top headliner of the class, that honor went to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, but he was considered by many to be the best big man on the market. The rumor mill had the Chicago Bulls actively pursuing him, as well as the New York Knicks.
Despite rumors of multiple offers from teams throughout the league, teams where Bosh would have been considered the top offensive option, he choose to join his friends James and Wade in Miami and form the so-called ‘Big Three’.
The HEAT celebrated the arrival of Bosh, James, and Wade by throwing a pre-championship party. The ‘Big 3’ partied as if they’d already walked through the NBA season and won a championship; James even proclaimed the team would win multiple titles.
All of this led to enormous expectations and added pressure on the HEAT last year. The team struggled during the first month, compiling a record of 9-8 through their first 17 games.
Much of the blame landed on the shoulders of Bosh. During the opening 17 games of the season, Bosh averaged what was considered a lowly 17.9 points per game and just over 7 rebounds a game, well below his averages from the year before.
What often gets overlooked, though, was Bosh shot better than 50% from the field during this time. His shot attempts dropped from 16.5 per game the season before to less than 13. It’s impossible for Bosh to help carry the offensive load when he isn’t getting the ball.
As the calendar turned to December, the HEAT hit their stride, losing only once in their next 22 games. Bosh was a part of this win streak, averaging over 19 points a game, shooting over 52% from the field and grabbing 9 rebounds a game during December. Despite the improved numbers, much of the praise at the time went to Wade and James.
When the HEAT were going well, much of the media attention seemed to be focused on the greatness of James and Wade, but when the HEAT struggled, the focus turned back to Bosh. Whether the HEAT were struggling or dominating, Bosh played the good teammate; he was willing to shoulder the blame or stand aside and let James and Wade be the heroes. Bosh was willing to do whatever was needed to help the team reach its goals, something that often gets overlooked by fans and media.
Another factor that was lost during last season was that James and Wade weren’t asked to sacrifice much of anything. Both players continued handling the ball as often as they had in the past. In fact, James and Wade averaged approximately one shot attempt per game less than in 2009-10 and both finished inside the top four in scoring last season. Meanwhile, Bosh’s shot attempts dropped by almost three per game and he fell outside of the top 20 in scoring after finishing 9th during his last year in Toronto.
Yet throughout the entire season Bosh never complained that the other members of the ‘Big 3′ were getting more shots per game than he was or more positive media attention. This was a crucial part of the success of the HEAT, who ended up with the third-best record in the NBA last year.
It would have been very easy for Bosh to turn to the media and rant about how he needed the ball as often as Wade and James, about how he was just as good as those two and signed a max contract just like they did. This type of publicity can tear a team apart, but Bosh kept his composure and was willing to make sacrifices in order to give his team the best chance at winning.
During the playoffs, Bosh’s numbers stayed virtually the same, despite him often being tasked with guarding the other team’s best big man. He guarded everyone from Elton Brand in the first round, to Dirk Nowitzki in the Finals. He proved he was up to the task by still managing over 18.5 points per game and averaging more rebounds in the playoffs than during the regular season.
The Finals was one of the first times Bosh wasn’t the scapegoat for the HEAT’s failings. James’ struggles throughout the series led to him being crucified in the media, but Bosh never got the credit he deserved for being a consistent performer night in and night out during the last six games of the season.
Bosh averaged 18.5 points during the finals, matched up against Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler, and was 7 of 9 from the field in the final game of the year. Bosh did everything head coach Erik Spoelstra asked of him and was arguably the most consistent HEAT player the entire season. Bosh didn’t have major highs or lows throughout the year, but could be counted on for 18-19 points almost every single night.
Despite his consistency, when the offseason started there were rumblings that the HEAT should consider trading Bosh for a point guard or a center. One of the top power forwards in the league, a player who didn’t complain all season long despite taking a lesser role to be a part of the new ‘Big 3’, and helping a newly formed team reach the Finals in only their first season together was being discussed as a possible trade chip. That is about as under-appreciated as a player can be.
One argument is that because his numbers dropped, he didn’t live up to his max contract and the HEAT should unloaded him sooner rather than later. Bosh’s work ethic, calming influence in the locker room, and the fact that he cares so passionately about winning, that he was caught on national television breaking down after the HEAT lost in the Finals, should be proof enough that not only has he lived up to his contract, but that he is the perfect compliment to Wade and James.
If Bosh wasn’t making near the NBA max, would anyone be questioning him? If he were making 10-12 million a season, wouldn’t he be considered underpaid? Bosh earned that contract with his play during his seven seasons in Toronto, and he proved he deserved it with his play during his first season as a member of the ‘Big 3.’
It’s time for fans and the media alike to look deeper than just the scoring and rebounding numbers for Bosh. It’s time for everyone to respect what Bosh brings to the HEAT and admit that there is more to being a star player than just scoring.
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