“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”
While our guy Tas gives his take on the job Bryan Colangelo has done with the Toronto Raptors, I’m going to try to give my take on the war of words between Colangelo and Chris Bosh as someone who has had to listen to and transcribe a lot of tape of both. Especially this past season, where, more days a week than not, I’d have to speak with Chris after practices, games and during shootarounds, as his team –and playoff aspirations– fell apart around him.
Does this mean I know much about the guy away from basketball? Nope, but I feel like you do see pieces of players when you have to deal with them –or they with you– day after day after day.
While the end has been messier than I would have ever expected –although we never think about the end of a partnership when we hope there isn’t going to be one– I felt a sense of empathy for Bosh, watching him on Sportsnet last night. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Why am I feeling empathy for a guy who “conspired” with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to pull off the biggest move in free agent history, changing the reality of parity within the league as we know it?
I felt bad for Bosh because when he says he has never, ever in his life stepped onto a basketball court and not given his all, I believe that he believes that. I also believe that what was really up for debate in the eyes of disgruntled Raptors’ fans wasn’t whether he played hard, but why he wasn’t on the floor to play hard after spraining his ankle when he was medically cleared to play.
This really shouldn’t be a surprise to Raptors’ fans (or to Colangelo) who have spent seven seasons with Bosh. I’m not ripping him when I say this, and I truly hate speculating about the extent of an injury, but I will say that I don’t think Bosh’s pain tolerance is as high as a lot of guys in the NBA.
Using his staying in the game after spraining his ankle against Memphis as evidence that he wasn’t giving up, I couldn’t help but think of an example on this Raptors’ squad. I can tell you that there was a chunk of time during the race towards the playoffs where Antoine Wright was scratched off of the practice list by trainers, only to decide he was going to practice and then play through the pain anyway. Now, I don’t know how that sprain would limit Bosh’s game and effectiveness. Those are things only he can answer and I’m sure, in his mind, he did by not playing.
If I am a general manager who felt my franchise player was quitting on his team during the season, but I am okay enough with that to try my damndest to re-sign him anyway, how could I then use that quitting as an excuse for the team’s struggles down the stretch?
If you know your franchise player doesn’t bounce back from injury quickly –and after seven seasons and many nagging injuries, the Raptors organization knew this– and you don’t flesh out the roster with guys who can make up for the absence of that franchise player and you are still willing to bring him back, it seems a little hypocritical to bring it up a month after the fact.
I hate to compare this to Dan Gilbert’s ridiculously inappropriate letter to LeBron James –and yeah, really, really not a fan of that mess– but it’s similar to ripping James for calling himself the King when the franchise promoted the hell out of it when he was in Cleveland. If Bosh re-signs with Toronto, do we take all of this talk/speculation about the deterioration of his performances and commitment to the playoff push and sweep it under a rug?
I think it’s undeniable that Bosh was a different player after the All-Star Break. Maybe that was a result of a dampened spirit accompanying the injury as a result of the injury and downward spiral of the team. Maybe it was frustration with the lack of success that another supposed “key acquisition” in Hedo Turkoglu was unable to provide. Maybe his mind was focused elsewhere or his number one priority was making sure his body, his own personal meal ticket, was healthy and in tip top shape when July 1st hit.
I don’t claim to know Bosh personally and if anything, the unexpected media parade he has taken himself on in the days since free agency started is proof that I really didn’t know him at all. I will say I still believe Bosh to be one of the biggest professionals that I’ve seen in this game, at least when he is under contract with a team. I believe he did give his heart to the Raptors’ franchise and that Toronto will always be a special place for him because he grew up as both basketball player and man here. I also believe he was ready to move on and when he cut his ties, he did so in a business-like fashion, where he began looking forward and has no desire of looking back.
Regardless, it seems as if a perfect free agency storm like no other hit the Raptors and Bosh himself may not truly have the answers for what went on in the final months of the 2009-2010 NBA season. If you’re willing to pay a guy millions and millions of dollars after you feel like he quit on his team, your team, can you expect anything more from him than what you’ve set as an acceptable standard? There are far too many enablers in this league. Maybe Bosh truly believed he gave his all because he has never had someone in a place of authority staring him in the face, questioning it.