I can’t decide which I like more, Chris Bosh’s personality off of the court or his game on it. Admittedly, I wasn’t what some would describe as a believer of his comic knack until I saw his pitch/commercial to be voted in the All-Star game in the 2007-08 season down in the Bayou. His seamless southern drawl is evidence of his roots while producing perhaps my favorite infomercial of all time, Bosh sporting a Cowboy hat and pleading for viewers to exercise their right to vote creating laughter and enjoyment for all. I feel that part of the enjoyment for me was the unexpectedness of the entire concept, mostly because of Bosh’s unassuming nature on the court.
He has been christened the future of the Toronto franchise, the player who will carry the scoring load and be viewed upon as the catalyst by outsiders. Bosh, an undersized power forward by nature was in the same draft class as LeBron, Wade, and Carmelo. This is partially responsible for his being ignored when discussions of great basketball players arise. He is a versatile, frail-framed big man who is at times forced to defend the opponent’s center because of the soft nature of Andrea Bargnani. He holds his own, through sheer will power and determinacy, against these mammoths that easily outweigh his 230-pound frame.
Some players achieve greatness, others have it thrust upon them. Bosh is a product of the two blurring lines. When he first arrived in Toronto, Vince Carter was the franchise, whether leading them in scoring or the sole marketing option for Raptors executives. He had grown unhappy with Toronto’s plan for him and requested a trade from the city that had embraced him when Toronto failed to bring in a veteran presence, opting to stick with Bosh. After Toronto obliged, Bosh was thrust into the position of leader. He had a couple of options at that point. He could crack under the pressure of being the face of a franchise, struggling under the weight of expectations, or he could embrace the role handed to him and mature into an elite performer. He chose door number two and has led the Raptors on and off the court for the majority of this decade.
He is also a southpaw who prefers to operate on the weak side of a defense, favoring starting out at the elbow and letting the rest play itself out. His range is certainly nothing short of impressive, heavy practice has enabled him to drain the occasional three. This puts him in near Kevin Garnett territory, a long armed 4 who is capable of stepping out and hitting a jumper if the defense becomes ignorant of his abilities. Strange how his versatility has had hampering effects on the Raptors chances, both he and Andrea are bigs who don’t make a living banging in the paint, instead choosing to hoist shots from beyond 12 feet which leaves little chance for offensive rebounds and second chance shots.
Despite his undersized frame, Bosh routinely visits double digits in the rebounding column, using his swiftness and athleticism to outmaneuver the competition, usually bulky behemoths that bully their way into the paint. He greatly benefits if he is paired with another big man who knows his way around the glass, easing the burden of Bosh having to battle centers for rebounds. Regardless, Toronto’s recent acquisitions have suggested that they will not travel down that path, instead opting for a non-traditional lineup that will hopefully cause more headaches than hiccups.
I have always viewed Chris Bosh to be perfectly suited to be a phenomenal second best player on a great team. Now, this is not an original thought nor is it elementary, but if he were paired with a phenomenal scorer (i.e. LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant) he could play on the weak side of the court and feast on the rotating defense rushing to stop his partner’s progress. The plausibility of a pairing of that magnitude is less than likely, but a guy can dream. If that isn’t going to happen, then the next best scenario is for him to be surrounded by excellent shooters (the Magic model), which they are employing to some extent. Then his excellent athleticism and scoring acumen can flourish and some pressure is taken off of his shoulders.
That is of course in reference to the off-season signing of Hedo Turkoglu, who in himself created numerous headlines and blogposts. The signing/stealing of Turkoglu from other possible suitors, namely Portland, has been the catalyst to the rest of Toronto’s moves (trading for Amir Johnson, riding themselves of Shawn Marion and Carlos Delfino). He was brought in to be a weird player, just as he was in Orlando, able to cause matchup nightmares and run the offense if needed.
That just makes Bosh’s role easier, at least it should. Now the offense doesn’t have to run entirely through Bosh, meaning Toronto as a whole should be better. That is assuming that Hedo Turkoglu will be a steady presence on offense, which he has never been and won’t be. His defense is nothing to admire either, generally acting aloof despite his capability to pose a problem for opponents with his length and agility. Let’s assume that Hedo will show up and be the 17 PPG and 6 assist a night Hedo that he can be if he stays in tune for a game. Then, the Raptors are a problem for the contenders in the East, not a truly major threat that will topple the mighty and cause havoc amongst NBA experts (see: 2007 Golden State Warriors).
The comparisons to Kevin Garnett have been numerous and are now more than a little trite and incorrect. He is compared to Garnett only because of the presence of a similarly gifted player is non-existent in the Association. Sure, the physical similarities of these two players can be mistaken. Both have relatively skinny, long frames with agility and speed that isn’t supposed to acquiesce with such body types. Even in an aesthetic way their games could be analogous with one another. Both can easily transition from being a swift moving post player with blindingly quick moves, to floating around outside of the key shooting with precision.
But, on a truly innermost level, in spirit and significance, their styles and game are different. Bosh has carved his own path away from Garnett, not that he invited the comparison nor complain about it. Garnett acts like a drill sergeant, barking orders and working his team into a fury. He has willed his team into areas where they didn’t belong, for instance the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. He has a tremendous impact on offense and defense. His absence sent the Timberwolves into some cavernous region bleakly known as 19th century basketball. His injury problems this most recent season likely cost the Celtics another shot at another championship.
Bosh is a toned down version of Garnett in terms of leadership. He is not afraid to speak his mind nor is he too shy to wear his emotions on his sleeve. However, he tends to lead by example instead of by speech. His dedication to progressing his game is remarkable, something for young players to learn from. He never complains about his or his team’s situation. He is an eternal optimist; a kind-hearted man who’s easy to please nature might be deceiving to those who don’t experience his game. Coaches and teammates have commented about what an excellent team player Bosh is, often fighting through injuries suffered when he is forced to battle against the bruising centers in the paint. He is the silent warrior who refuses to quit regardless of the situation.
I suppose my point is that Chris Bosh is slightly underappreciated given his terrific numbers and hearty attitude. There are various factors that contribute to this (playing in Toronto, not being in contention, not being LeBron James or Kevin Garnett). Also, I would be a fool not to mention that his bony figure make him resemble an actual raptor, which is kind of cool considering the team he plays for. He will also be part of the LeBron sweepstakes, eligible to become a free agent in the summer of 2010. He won’t draw the fanfare and speculation that James or Wade will, and considering his game isn’t as flashy, it shouldn’t be expected. However, Bosh will be a considerably great consolation prize if Toronto can’t influence Bosh to stay in the heavily international city.