Chris Bosh

It seems like almost every week since Chris Bosh announced he had signed with the Miami Heat, something has popped up to give haters ammunition to make fun of him. It’s either his third wheel status with the Heat, his questionable taste in fashion and bachelor party planning, getting called a “fake tough guy” by Kevin Durant, or, well, this song.

Yesterday, Shaquille O’Neal went on NBA TV to announce the 2011-12 season schedule and made a point to refer to “The Big Two” when talking about the Miami Heat. Since this is coming from a man who famously called Bosh “the RuPaul of big men”, we can safely assume his implied lack of respect.

Before I start defending Bosh, let’s establish that he is clearly not on LeBron James’ and Dwyane Wade’s level as a player — nobody in their right mind could dispute that. Then again, James and Wade will likely be considered by most to be among the greatest players of all-time at their respective positions, so how fair is it to hold Bosh up to that standard?

Over eight NBA seasons and 586 games, Bosh has career averages of 20.0 points and 9.2 rebounds. Bosh is currently one of 20 players in NBA history to play at least 500 games with career averages of at least 20 points and nine rebounds — 16 of them are in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the other three (Shaq, Tim Duncan and Chris Webber) will almost certainly enter the Hall when they become eligible. In 32 career playoff games, Bosh’s career averages drop only slightly to 19.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Whether or not you consider Chris Bosh to be a superstar, the fact remains that he’s a very good player who chose to join the Heat because he believed it gave him a better chance of winning a championship. Could he have led the Raptors or any other team to a championship as the best player on the team? Probably not, but that list of “20 and 9 guys” I linked above includes guys like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Webber who weren’t able to accomplish that themselves.

The constant mockery heaped on Bosh has reached a level that seems drastically disproportionate to what he deserves. He’s a smart, thoughtful guy who doesn’t appear particularly arrogant — especially in comparison to “The Big Two”. On top of that, he’s a pretty damn good basketball player who, at the age of 27, is a six-time NBA All-Star and was a key member of Team USA’s gold medal team at the 2008 Olympics. He’s already accomplished a lot at what is probably the midway period of his career — and when it’s all said and done, he’ll probably have at least one NBA championship ring and enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

Should Bosh have expected this kind of treatment when he agreed to join what can only be described as an attempt to create an unstoppable NBA juggernaut? Yeah, he probably should have seen this coming. But I just don’t think mocking him is all that funny, anymore. Call me the NBA’s version of Chris Crocker if you want, but I think it’s time to leave Chris Bosh alone for a little while.