Chris Bosh and Bryan Colangelo

The Ultimate Raptors Rankings are the RaptorBlog editors’ attempt to rank the top 30 Toronto Raptors of all time. These rankings are obviously somewhat arbitrary and endlessly debatable, but they’re based on each player’s contribution, performance and longevity as a Raptor, and on how beloved they are by Raptors fans.

Chris Bosh’s Raptors résumé:

- Second in franchise history, games played (509)

- First in franchise history, points (10,275)

- First in franchise history, rebounds (4,776)

- Five consecutive All-Star nominations as a Raptor (2006-2010)

Starting from when he was drafted fourth overall in the 2003 draft after the most-hyped top three picks in the history of the NBA draft — LeBron, Darko and Carmelo — Chris Bosh has always been viewed by the general NBA fanbase as an afterthought, a nice piece of the puzzle but not a player you’d want to build a team around. The fact that Dwyane Wade was selected right after Bosh in that draft hasn’t helped Bosh’s image as the quintessential sidekick.

Where I take issue with these criticisms about Chris Bosh is that there has only been one player in the history of this franchise who was talented enough to really build a championship-contending team around. We all know who that player is, and let’s take a moment to imagine what he could have accomplished in his career if he had Bosh’s drive to make the most of himself.

Think of all the criticisms and insults you’ve thrown at Chris Bosh in your time as a Raptors fan. Was “underachiever” one of them? This is a guy who was drafted out of Georgia Tech as a six-foot-10, 210-pound, 19-year-old and he held his own in his 2003-2004 rookie season while playing the majority of his minutes at center. I don’t recall hearing a single complaint from him as he got beat up by grown men with significantly more size and strength than him, and yet throughout his career he’s been viewed as one of the “softest” players in the league.

Chris Bosh is awkward, dorky, nerdy, and as far from cool as you can possibly be as a professional athlete. I recognize this because I share all of those traits (aside from the “pro athlete” part) and I know my own kind. But he sure as hell isn’t soft, and I can prove it. He finished top 10 in the NBA in free throw attempts in his last four seasons as a Raptor, and the reason he ranked that high is that he consistently drove to the basket and initiated contact with his defenders, over and over again. And then he made them pay by sinking 80 percent of his free throws.

This blog launched one season before Bosh was drafted by the Raptors, so I spent much of his seven-season tenure in Toronto defending his position as the team’s “alpha dog” after Carter was traded. At various points, I argued with fans of Charlie Villanueva, Andrea Bargnani, Jermaine O’Neal  and Hedo Turkoglu about who was the Raptors’ true leader. Bosh was a five-time All-Star (he missed the 2009 game due to injury) in Toronto, while his “competition” combined for zero All-Star appearances while they were Raptors. Potential is a wonderful thing, but Bosh realized his more than any Raptor in the history of this franchise

Sure, he didn’t lead the team past the first round of the playoffs — but he never had the supporting cast to do so. He gave his heart and soul to this team for six-and-a-half seasons (you all know what I’m alluding to here) and yet I don’t know a single Raptors fan who hopes to see him wearing a Raptors uniform again one day. Because he wasn’t a spectacular dunker or a flashy passer or a charismatic leader or Canadian, I never felt he was truly embraced and beloved by Raptors fans — many of whom seemed to focus mostly on what he couldn’t do.

Of course, the biggest criticism I heard about Bosh in Toronto is that he wasn’t “clutch” and he couldn’t win games for you at the buzzer. Man, people with selective memories are funny, aren’t they?

That was the only video evidence I could find of Bosh’s capability to perform in the clutch as as a Raptor, but it wasn’t hard to dig up more examples. He did not wilt under the spotlight of high-pressure situations:

  • March 17, 2010 — Hit a 16-foot jumper with two seconds left to beat the Hawks 106-105
  • January 28, 2010 — Scored on a layup with 15 seconds remaining to put the Raptors up by three before beating the Knicks 106-104
  • January 8, 2010 — Got three the hard way with eight seconds on the clock, Raptors topped Sixers 108-106
  • October 31, 2008 — Scored the Raptors’ final six points in regulation and four points in overtime in a 112-108 victory over the Warriors.

I was as angry as anyone when Bosh forsook this team to join LeBron and Wade in Miami, but it didn’t take me long to forgive him and understand why he did it. Who am I to judge someone for wanting to live the good life in warm weather, make a lot of money and potentially win multiple championships without having to shoulder the burden of blame if those titles don’t occur? People want to judge him for “riding the coat-tails” of LeBron and Wade, but those same people already knew that he wasn’t talented enough to lead a championship team by himself. After Vince Carter was traded in Bosh’s sophomore season, who was Bosh’s most talented teammate? Debate amongst yourselves, but I’m sure we can agree that none of them came close to approaching All-Star status.

Many NBA fans inexplicably view Bosh as a punchline now that he’s “only” the third-best player on the Miami Heat. That’s their prerogative, but how many fans viewed him as the least desirable of the top three power forward options (after Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer) in the 2010 free agency class? How many Bulls and Knicks fans don’t wish they could swap their guy for Bosh now?

Laugh it up, Bosh-haters. He still has a good number of years and a high probability of championship jewelry in front of him. I’m not rooting for him to win a title, but I’m long past rooting against him — whether or not you’ll feel that he earned that ring won’t matter to him.

 

Comments (20)

  1. Totally agree Bosh is #2. But I haven’t forgiven him yet. It’s not because he left, it’s the WAY he left. Vince was way worse obviously. Anyway, cool article, but I still have a little Bosh hate too. Cheers

  2. I was never a huge Bosh fan, but you can easily make the argument that if BC didn’t become obsessed with Bargnani and his potential heading into the 2006 draft and took a wing to compliment Bosh (Gay or Roy) instead of another big who played the same position as him that the Raptors could have at least won a playoff series or two with him. Unfortunately the Bargnani experiment took center stage and really led to the construction of an incredibly flawed team that we are still paying for to this day.

    I don’t have any left over hate for him now, but it’s tough to praise him as well because outside of the fluky 2007 season, there were really no signature moments that the Raptors had with Bosh unlike the number one guy on this list who still has a ton of fans within this fanbase simply because he was the key cog to the apex of this franchise’s history.

  3. Its moments like those which really make me miss him

  4. I wonder who’s going to be #1????

  5. Agreed. Bosh really was something else while he was here.

    Colangelo, though a good GM, had some serious egg on his face when Bosh left and played on the fanbase’s resentment, suddenly proclaiming that Bosh obviously wasn’t the kind of player you can build a contender around – though during Bosh’s free agency year, Colangelo went on the record several times saying that Bosh was the “cornerstone” of the Raptors franchise.

  6. Since you thought Chris Bosh has left The Raptors, how about Vince Carter…even though that ”VC’ has left the Raptors, and play for other teams….when he came back, sure the fan boo him…no matter if the Toronto fans love or hate Vince Carter, he’ll be always the number 1 as a Toronto Raptor, next to CB4…until someone bums him down?!!

  7. Echoing your sentiments, but I’ve always felt that Bosh fought with a lot of heart, improved each year, and did it all without the benefit of a supporting cast.

    Vince was clearly more talented, but Bosh played harder. He’s still my favourite Raptor, and it pains me to say it, but I’d like to see the him win a title with the Heat.

  8. Pretty sad that 1 (VC) 2 (Bosh) 3 ( Damon) and 4 (AD) all asked or orchestrated their exit out of Toronto.

    Maybe we shouldn’t make these lists.

  9. Agree 100% about Bosh – when I first saw the team playing him up as the franchise player, I doubted he would live up to that, but every year he got better and better. I wished we could have kept the guy and brought in some talent. It’s too bad the hedo experiment didn’t work, but I totally get why he left. I do wish he’d been upfront about it, so we could have traded him earlier and maybe get something more back for him. Not as douchey as ‘the decision’ but Toronto gave hiim the minutes and the touches needed to develop, he owed the team the truth.

  10. Bosh at #2… means #1 has to be Alexis Ajinca. The wait is almost over.

  11. I always thought Bosh’s nerdiness and sense of humour were endearing. I never had an issue with the guy until post all-star break in his last season here, but I would still never boo him. He was a legit all star, nice guy, liked TO, and gave it his all until arguably that last half of a season. I couldn’t care less that he bolted to Miami. I was surprised because he seemed to like being a top dog with all the attention, but I’d rather he chase a ring than chase publicity. He was a free agent, and he put in some long years with a shitty team. I didn’t like the way he would wilt playing against KG or Rasheed but he was and still is an excellent player.

    BC should have traded him, just like Utah traded D-Will, and especially given the history with T-Mac and Vince. I still think the way BC publicly handled Bosh’s departure was disgusting and totally disingenuous. He gambled wrong (good thing for those of us who didn’t want Bosh getting a max contract here) and acted like a sore loser. He also seemed to blame Bosh, retroactively, for his own inability to build a winner around him.

    • Well said. I woulda left too if I was Bosh. A player only has about 6 or 7 prime years; can’t waste them playing for a garbage team. If the raps start winning, players will come here like they did when VC and Tmac were the talk of the NBA. I’m still upset that the raps fired Grunwald.

      • Glen Grunwald traded away a lot of draft picks for 30+ year old veterans, extended several of them to bad contracts, signed Michael Stewart to a hideous contract, dealt away a future first-round pick (Jared Dudley, 2007 – think about what the Raptors needed that offseason) in a quick fix to get rid of that mistakeful contract three years later and get a no-so-good 30+ year old, and didn’t draft well outside of Bosh and Jamison who he flipped for Carter. It was a metter of time before the team fell as there was nothing set to help VC long term.

    • D-Will got traded by Utah because they learned from what happened with Bosh and Lebron.

      It must be tough for a GM to trade THE star player of your franchise just because of a hunch that he MIGHT leave.

      Who knows how long Bosh knew what he was gonna do? This question will haunt many Raptors (and Cavs fans in the case of LeBron), and likely will never be unanswered.

      Either way, he left cause he thought that was best for him and I agree with Scott, how can we blame him for the actual decision?. He gave his all for the vast majority of his time over here and definitely earned this spot in the ranking. All the best to him from here on.

  12. Utah may have learned from the Bosh and LeBron examples, but BC, as GM of the Raptors, should have been thinking about T-Mac and to some extent Vince. This is not a franchise that should have ever put itself into a position to lose a 3rd asset like that and get back practically nothing in return.

    BC just thought the extra year he could offer Bosh would be all the leverage he needed to either sign him or work out a favourable deal with some team. He talked about it all the time in interviews. I’m sure he was surprised and pissed that Bosh was ultimately intent on going to Miami and only Miami, which killed his leverage. I’m also willing to bet that BC then convinced himself that Bosh made that decision before the all star break (he kept making cryptic comments about player agendas around that time), and he’s pissed that Bosh and his agent weren’t more transparent. I can understand that, but whatever really happened, he ultimately got played and lost a valuable asset without getting back a good return.

    • Any plan BC had with CB4 not only blew up in his face, it exposed a serious weakness of his, not being able to think ahead and make moves that are best for the long term of the team. I’d argue that trading him instead of Jermaine O’Neal to Miami by the 2009 trade deadline would have been the smarter move at the time.

  13. Bosh was wonderful for the Raptors and I don’t mind him leaving at all. He’s a very, very good player, but not good enough to make a team better than 0.500 (still, that’s pretty rare). And the various GMs over the years never put the right players around him (JO, Bargnani, Hedo … only TJ Ford and Calderon, when they were playing well).

    But I think the Heat is a terrible fit for him. He needs to be beside a Rasho type center and a Nash-like point guard to be at his best.

    • Agree, not to mention that retaining him at maximum salary would have actually been worse for the long term.

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