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Despite rocky end, Chris Bosh’s legacy with Heat remains intact

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Bosh endured harsh criticism, but emerged as a huge piece of the Heat’s back-to-back championship run.

Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Friday night, news broke out that will make the official parting of the Miami Heat and Chris Bosh a formality — an NBA doctor ruled that the two-time NBA champion is dealing with a career-ending illness. The Heat will remove his contract from their salary cap once they officially waive him.

Bosh and Pat Riley locked horns since the 11-time All Star’s second season-ending blood clot issue during the 2015-16 season. Bosh alienated Riley with a documentary series chronicling his comeback attempt in which the player said Heat doctors wrote him off. Riley called it “really poor, because it besmirched our doctors and our efforts.” In Wright Thompson’s recent profile on Riley, the Heat President said he wishes he let Bosh sign with the Houston Rockets after LeBron James’ 2014 departure for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Yes, the ending was bitter and dragged out over a 15-month span. It’s easy to think rationally and say Bosh should’ve gracefully ended his NBA career, making the best decision for his health and letting the Heat move on. Despite the fraught conclusion, though, Bosh’s legacy with the Heat remains positive and bright.

LeBron James received plenty of (unfair) criticism during his time with the Heat, but Bosh was maligned to another degree. People thought that Miami should’ve signed Carlos Boozer instead of Bosh during the Heat’s 9-8 start in 2010-11. Notorious blowhard Skip Bayless mocked him with a “Bosh Spice” moniker. After typing in “Chris Bosh” in the YouTube search bar, the first suggestion finishes his name with “gayest moments.”

For those who might need a refresher, here’s a piece from Bleacher Report from February 2011 titled “Two and a Half Men.”

He's always been soft, and more of a finesse player. For a guy that was supposed to be all that, he's proving that when the going gets tough, he is a non-factor.

Couldn't Miami have done better with the money they paid him, and built a more solid team that will be able to compete with the big boys once the playoffs start?

They are currently 1-7 against the best teams in the league, though they haven't played San Antonio yet, the team with the best record. Other than the first round of the playoffs, they're not going to be able to get by with just two real stars and a basketful of question marks.

There’s plenty more like that in the annals of the Internet. Some looked at Bosh’s breakdown after the Heat’s six-game loss to the Dallas Mavericks as confirmation of all their criticisms. Look at him crying after losing in the NBA Finals. I mean, the video below is titled, “Chris Bosh cries like a little girl.”

(When Kevin Durant cried in the arms of his mother after the Finals a year later, the same commentators kept quiet. And I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness to show emotion after coming up just short of winning an NBA title. People deal with disappointment in different ways, and we shouldn’t deride one way as weak.)

Bosh had his own skills, his own masculinity questioned after joining the Heat. And a year after the Heat’s 2011 Finals loss, Bosh suffered an injury in the second round of the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took care of business, but Bosh returned in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. Bosh’s absence became a blessing in disguise for the Heat, forcing Erik Spoelstra to play James at the power forward. And Bosh thrived as a center.

At the five, Bosh exploited a huge matchup advantage against Kendrick Perkins, making him look like a statue with simple drives to the basket. But more importantly, he became a true two-way player in Miami, as ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh wrote. His defensive versatility emerged as a perfect fit for the Heat’s suffocating, sophisticated defensive system.

Bosh brought so many good memories to the Heat. His offensive rebound to give Ray Allen a chance to hit the biggest shot in Heat history. The numerous clutch plays he made in the regular season — the 3-pointer in Atlanta when James and Wade sat out, the 3 in Portland, the 3 in San Antonio.

I’ll remember many moments from Bosh’s time with the Heat. I’ll remember when he added a 3-point shot to his arsenal and became a more dynamic offensive player. I’ll remember when he poured champagne on himself in a locker room championship celebration. I’ll remember that he could be at times vulnerable, cerebral and funny in interviews. I’ll remember him being upset in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, frustrated with five fouls and zero points, but continuing to play hard and defend Tim Duncan. I’ll remember when he crashed this Jason Jackson interview.

It’s a shame Bosh didn’t play much with Goran Dragic. Those two would’ve fit together perfectly. During the Heat’s 30-11 finish to the 2016-17 season, I sometimes thought about how the 2012-14 Bosh would buttress that team. People said that Bosh didn’t deserve his maximum salary, but he brought a skillset that few players possess. I can’t wait to see Bosh have his No. 1 jersey lifted in the Heat rafters and hear his speech when he gets inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Although it was cut short, Bosh’s NBA career is one any Heat fan and any basketball fan should cherish.