July 30, 2010
Chris Bosh(notes) averaged nearly 22 points and nine rebounds in 36 minutes a game during the month of March last season. He shot a respectable 48 percent from the field, turned it over a less-than-so-so 2.9 times a game and blocked a miserable five shots in 14 games. In his two healthy games in April, he put up a 28-point, 12-rebound game with seven assists and a 42-point, 13-rebound game with five steals.
On the season, Chris averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds. So while these early spring numbers seem like a bit of a drop-off, especially considering the pair of injuries that bookended his run (an ankle sprain and what could charitably be described as "a broken face"), it doesn't really seem like Bosh was dogging it all that much.
But, to fall into the trap that I promised myself I never would ... I know what I saw.
Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo — a person who can charitably be described as "a personnel executive who makes decisions that Kelly Dwyer does not often agree with" — knows what he saw, too. He told Toronto radio station 590 The Fan this earlier in the week:
"Whether he was mentally checked out or just wasn't quite into it down the stretch, he wasn't the same guy. I think everybody saw that, but no one wanted to acknowledge it."
Bosh, however, wasn't having any of it. He complained to the Toronto Globe that he "put his heart and soul" into last season and plays "this game as hard as I can every time I step on the court."
Well, I'm sorry Chris. I'm sorry that you played the way you did last season, in two different ways.
First, I'm sorry that, by your standards, you took February and March off (to hear Colangelo tell it, Bosh took his time recovering from an ankle injury that only necessitated a few days off). In October and November you averaged over 25 points and 12 rebounds a game. In December you shot 55 percent as the Raptors went away from you offensively for long stretches (still averaging nearly 22 a game). In January you were back up to nearly 25 and 12 a game. And over 29 points and 11 rebounds a contest in February.
And because of those brilliant first few months, I'm sorry that this is what we're talking about as July turns into August. Because your reaction to the minor injury and your work in March tainted what was an all-NBA run for the first 53 games of the season.
You were fantastic, and not enough people knew about it. Those who were watching those Raptor matinees on Sunday afternoon while the rest of the sportswriting lot was watching pro football knew about it. Those who were taking the time to tune into those Raptors-Sixers showdowns at 7 p.m. ET on a Tuesday knew about it.
But this is what happens because of the way you played in March. And because you took time off in February.
(Oh, and by admitting that you talked with Dwyane Wade(notes) and LeBron James(notes) at the All-Star break about joining up on another team, even while the three of you were still under contract for another 4 1/2 months? This is what happens, as well. It's hard to convince people that you haven't checked out when your stats drop by seven points and three rebounds per game in the month following you musing aloud to mates about the possibility of going to New York or Miami.)
Because while the Raptors were bad at the start of last season — league-worst bad in defensive efficiency — Bosh wasn't terrible. But after his February injury and the All-Star meeting, he was as bad as the rest of teammates down the stretch. If you want to go with stats, go with stats: Bosh is a 6-foot-11 guy with major hops and long arms who blocked six shots in his last 17 games as a Raptor. He's also a lefty, and lefties are better at blocking shots because their strong hand pairs up with their man's usual strong shooting hand.
Just a quick look at one of the Behind the Box Scores from that time reminded me how terrible his pick-and-roll defense was. Box score stats don't pick that up. I'm sorry, but he took it easy. On both ends.
Once again, "taking it easy" results in about 22 points and nine rebounds per game for Bosh. He's a terrific player, even when his transmission's gummed and he's stuck in second gear. And I'm loath to pile on.
But Colangelo is right, and whether Bosh wants to delude himself or not isn't our fault. Whether he likes it or not isn't our fault either. I watched those games. Raptors fans, and there are many, saw those games. And I'm sure the bulk of them appreciated his amazing run over the first 50-plus games and can also understand why a guy takes it easy after being enervated by yet another middling season amongst a group of players who can't defend or rebound. You're still safer wearing a Bosh jersey in Toronto than you are wearing a Vince Carter(notes) jersey.
This wasn't a tank job. And it certainly wasn't every game. Maybe not even every other game. This was just Chris at about 85 percent of what we saw from him earlier that season (and his contributions agree with that percentage), and about 90 percent of what we've seen from him for his career. This wasn't Carter. It wasn't even Pau Gasol(notes) in his last year with the Grizzlies. But Bosh wasn't going as hard in March. Especially on defense.
And when you act the way you've acted? Soliciting free-agent suggestions over Twitter on April 30 even though you're still technically a member of the Toronto Raptors until July 1? Following Dwyane Wade around North America like a tagalong little brother? The Hamptons nonsense? The All-Star admission? Just being in the same picture as LeBron James, who has become public enemy No. 1?
It allows for those with long memories and nothing to do on a Tuesday night in March to recall what went down. That's what you're left with, Chris. And you're best served not protesting too much. Better to let this slip away.
Kind of like you did with the Raptors' season.