On one hand, it's kind of hard to feel bad for Chris Bosh. How do you pity someone scheduled to make more than $15 million this upcoming season for playing a game as insignificant as basketball?
And yet, on the other hand, I feel terrible for the guy.
Here you have a guy who could have taken a max contract anywhere he wanted in the summer of 2010 and could have been the go to option on nearly any team in the NBA who willingly turned that down in favor of taking less money and becoming the third option on a title contender.
The one problem?
He doesn't get nearly enough credit for how he's helped the Heat get to where they are right now - three consecutive finals appearances and back to back titles.
At this point, it's hard for NBA people to criticize Lebron James, because, I mean, he's Lebron. People don't like to criticize Dwyane Wade because A) his struggles are usually caused by injury, and B) we watched him carry the team in 2006. But Bosh? Bosh gets no such passes. Whenever the Heat struggle, the brunt of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the former #4 overall pick.
In my opinion, not enough is made of the sacrifice that Bosh in particular made for this whole experiment to work.
During the 2012-2013 season, Bosh had a usage rating of 22.65, the third lowest rating of his career, and lowest since since his second year in the NBA. That rating is also the lowest achieved by Bosh in his three years in Miami. For comparison's sake, Lebron had a usage of 30.12, and Wade had a usage of 29.46.
In addition to accepting a more limited role in the offense, CB also doesn't receive enough credit for the way he's expanded his game to fit the system Erik Spoelstra is running.
Chris has significantly improved his long range shooting ability, which allows the Heat to better space the floor to counter teams with dominant rim protectors. Bosh shot 53% on shots between 16 and 23 feet away from the rim this past season, the highest total of his career and a 13% improvement from the 2011-2012 campaign.
During his Toronto days, Bosh was almost dominant in terms of finishing at the rim. Since joining the Heat, Bosh has had to spend more time away from the rim, but has actually become a better finished, partly because the system he helped flourish has allowed him to pick his spots better. Bosh has attempted 4 shots a game at the rim as a member of the Big 3, while he averaged 5.65 shots per game at the rim in the 4 years prior with Toronto. Bosh shot 75.5% at the rim this past season, which is the highest of his career. That also comes along with a 69.9% assist ratio, meaning that nearly 7 of every 10 Bosh layup was accompanied by an assist. And just because I like comparisons, Tyson Chandler holds the 3rd highest single season FG% of all time, when he shot 68% for the entire season during 2011-12. Chandler shot 75.8% at the rim that season. THAT's how good Bosh was as a finisher last year.
I present you these figures to show that Bosh has bought in to this system 100%, and without such a willing big man, perhaps the Heat don't find themselves where they are today, in spite of having 2 of the top 10 players in the league (See what I did there? You see it. I know you see it.)
Defensively, Bosh has had a positive impact on Miami as well with his rim protecting abilities - he averaged 1.4 blocks per game last season, tying a career high. This allows Lebron and Dwyane to gamble a bit more defensively, which leads to fast break, which leads to the FLYINGDEATHMACHINE moments we all love so very much.
There are legitimate questions about his rebounding ability - he posted a career low last year, and his rebounds per game have decreased every season with the Heat. But let's not forget this is a guy who averaged 10.8 rebounds per game the year before he brought his talents to South Beach. The problem for Chris is probably not that he can't rebound, it's that he's had trouble adjusting to the Heat's system AND maintaining his ability to rebound. Spo isn't ignorant on this subject - he knows he's going to need his big man to start grabbing some boards if the Heat want to finish the three peat. I'd imagine he spent some time this offseason coming up with a way that allows Chris to get back to his old self inside on defense.
So what's my point? We, as NBA fans, and particularly as Heat fans, should probably cool it with blaming Chris Bosh whenever anything goes bad for this team. Basketball is a team game, and doesn't revolve solely around one player. People love to talk about 'sacrifice' when they talk about how this team came together, but they often forget the guy who gave up money to reinvent himself as a basketball player and to become the butt of a nation's jokes. Maybe it's time to give the man the credit he deserves?