The Basketball Jones 40: What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s a little hard to define. It’s certainly not a list of the 40 best players in the league right now — in fact, a couple players on the TBJ 40 would be ones that teams would gladly pay just to go away (and some have). And it’s not a list of our 40 favorite players, either — the combined man-hours that some of us have spent rooting against a couple of these guys would certainly disqualify that as well. It’s not even the 40 funniest or most interesting players, as a couple players are dull as dishwater off the court, but do enough on the hardwood to make their inclusion undeniable.
No, the best way we can define the Basketball Jones 40 is as the 40 players that are most important to our site right now. The players we write about the most, the players we follow the closest, the players that TBJ could least afford to be without. And what goes into that is an entire series of factors, ranging from their on-court success to their off-court headline making to their general likability as athletes, celebrities and human beings.
And today, we start to tackle the Top 10 in detail …
Chris Bosh earns the mildly dubious distinction of being the league’s best player that absolutely nobody has any respect for. Previously best known for being the franchise player and perennial All-Star for a subpar Raptors team, Bosh now risks being forever remembered for making the fateful decision to join Dwyane Wade and eventually LeBron James on a Miami Heat superteam where he would quickly be dubbed the third wheel (and far, far worse). Now, Bosh is the unintentional comedy king of the NBA, someone who desperately needs a championship ring or two to lend credibility to a career move that threatens to forever overshadow his on-court achievements.
2011 Season: Most seasons when you make an All-Star team and reach the NBA Finals in your first year with a new team, you’re probably gonna be pretty happy with it, but Bosh’s ’10-’11 was obviously not most seasons. Failing to live up to his scoring and rebounding averages early in the season, Bosh quickly came under fire for being overextended as a max player, and things went from bad to worse for Chris as a series of dunk posterizations, douchey post-game quotes and generally bad PR moves turned him into the walking punchline of the league. The Heat obviously turned things around as the year went on, and Bosh had some nice games as Miami steamrolled through the Eastern Conference in the post-season, but it’s still a long road back to respectability for Chris Bosh. (12/20)
Legacy/Career: The Good: Six all-star appearances, a career 20.0 PPG average, and an Olympic gold medal as a key member of The Redeem Team. The Bad: Only two playoff appearances during his career in Toronto, with a combined three victories between them, as well as a move to Third Banana status in Miami that basically confirmed that he was never meant to be a No. 1 or even No. 2 guy on a contending team. His numbers alone might send him to the Hall of Fame, but it’s hard to imagine what there’s going to be to say in his induction speech. (7/10)
Drama/Controversy: Dwarfed somewhat by the drama that LeBron went through in the fallout from The Decision, it shouldn’t be underestimated how much shit Chris Bosh has gone through in the last 15 months either. A couple sniping comments about the fans and city of Toronto, combined with a number of gently antagonistic tweets concerning his free agency, assured that he would be persona non gratta in White Vegas upon his signing with Miami in the 2010 off-season, and his “Look at Me, I’m Finally a Celebrity!” behavior combined with his substandard on-court play quickly alienated the rest of the league as well. Now Chris Bosh is completely on an island, no longer even permitted to tag along with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to their post-game conferences. Sad, almost. (9/10)
Go-To Move: A square-up jumper from the wing, which he also uses to establish an occasional (though increasingly rare) pump-fake and drive to the basket. Works most of the time. (6/10)
Highlight Play: Bosh does have a nice dossier of dunks to his credit, most recently his Christmas Day slam over Matt Barnes of the Lakers. (Wasn’t the most noteworthy dunk he was involved in last year, but we’ll get to that one next). (7/10)
Comedic Potential: The real bummer here is that the Chris Bosh of 2008 — used-car salesman Chris Bosh — might have scored high for reasons he’d be proud of. Unfortunately, after the Rondo dunk, the Boozer flop, the 1-18, the “Entourage” cameo, the Hamptons visit and the Google autofill experiment, among other ’10-’11 incidents, it’s unlikely that Bosh will be making us laugh for any reason he’d prefer to know about in the immediate or distant future. Fortunately for us, though, his current streak of unintentional comedy is practically off the scale, even for an NBA player. (10/10)
Nickname: CB4 used to work well in a literalish sense, in that CB are Chris Bosh’s initials and 4 was his jersey number, and CB4 was indeed the name of a once-popular movie. Still, I’m hoping that Boshstrich will catch on before long, since it seems to capture the essence of the man better. (7/10)
Definitive Quote: “C’mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen … You’ve got to watch people’s legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job … If [the ball] is by somebody’s leg, don’t dive for the ball, it’s too close.” (9/10)
Non-Hoops Ventures: I could take the time to go through all the tweets, TV cameos, self-made documentaries and fashion spreads, or you could just watch “Like a Bosh” again, which efficiently summarizes all the ill-advised extracurricular activities that Bosh has been up to since deciding he was someone worth being considered as a celebrity. (4/5)
Poignant NBA Relationship: Tough one. Probably still the city of Toronto, who at least still treat Bosh with the venomous malice usually reserved for true love gone sour, where the rest of the league now merely dismisses him as an amusing trifle. (2/5)
TOTAL SCORE: 73/100