Chris Bosh has waited a long time for a moment like this. After re-signing with the Miami Heat for a reported five-year deal worth $118 million, Bosh is now the star player for a championship franchise. Gone is LeBron James, who left the Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Also apparent is the likelihood that Dwayne Wade, who spent his entire 11-year career with the team will be playing in a different jersey next season. Like Bosh, Wade declined an option in excess of $40 million for the next two seasons in order to assist in LeBron’s free agency plans. Except unlike Bosh those plans left Wade with the short end of the stick. While Bosh is steping into the spotlight for the Miami Heat and earning near max money, Wade will certainly be earning a lot less than he could have if decided to exercise to opt-in.
Bosh was seen by many analysts as the player who would most likely stay with the Heat. When he decided to opt-out of his contract with the team along with Wade and James, most people viewed the move as a means to for the Heat to add bench depth. The general consensus from reports led the sports world to believe Bosh and Wade would be negotiating discounted salaries. However, those beliefs were stemmed off the premise that James would re-sign with Miami not the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bosh was the last of The Big Three to opt-out. Out of the trio he had the least individually successful campaign as a franchise player before signing with the Heat in 2010.
Despite establishing himself as a perennial All-Star with the Toronto Raptors, Bosh struggled to win in the Eastern Conference. He spent seven years with the Raptors and for most of that time period he was relied upon as the primary option. In his last five seasons with the team the 6’11” Bosh notched at least 22 ppg and 8.9 rpg. However, the Raptors made the playoffs just twice during his stint with the team and failed to win a playoff series.
In joining the Miami Heat, Bosh has seen his individual role adjust drastically. With LeBron James and Dwayne Wade as teammates, Bosh served as “third scoring option.” Many of his scoring opportunities were created for him by drives from the duo and ball movement. The simplicity of Eric Spoelstra’s offense called for Bosh to utilize his spot up shooting as his preferred means of scoring. When the Heat’s championship runs are discussed much acclaim is given to the four-time MVP in James and Wade is often praised or criticized as well. Wade showed he was ready to handle pressure early in his career. He stepped into the spotlight for the Heat back in 2006, when he won the NBA Finals MVP, while Bosh endured another first round playoff exit. The efficient Bosh has seen his offensive role with the Heat sporadically change due to the health status of the aging Wade in recent years.
As a Texas native, much was made of whispers that Bosh would sign a near max deal with the Houston Rockets. Joining forces with James Harden and Dwight Howard would have given the NBA another All-Star Big Three. However, Bosh ultimately turned down the franchise but added they were a “real strong candidate” for his services. Some pegged Bosh as the missing piece to a championship in Houston. A third scorer who requires a nominal amount of shots and could space the floor for James Harden’s drives makes it easy to see why Houston would want to sign Bosh. Unfortunately for the Rockets, the opportunity proved to be a lost on the Heat big man.
Playing with James and Wade for four seasons has been a gift and a curse for the smooth shooting lefty. A Texas native Bosh, played in Toronto for the majority of his career. He did not see the press and media relevance playing statically dominant basketball in Toronto as he does now that he has played third wheel in Miami. As expected his statistics have suffered but even more importantly his reputation as franchise player who can lead a team to a championship is a growing concern.
Bosh claims he is “excited for the challenge” of taking on the spotlight and is, ready for his new role. After being overshadowed for years by the superstar duo, Bosh has a chance to prove skeptics wrong. There is no doubting the versatility of Bosh who can play both power forward and stretch five. While he does not possess a great low post game, Bosh is am extremely skilled face up player and is also quicker than most front court players who close out on him. If he can continue to improve on his new found three point shooting, he may be in for a resurgent season. With the announcement of the signing of Luol Deng for two seasons and $20 million, Bosh will not have to “miss being the alpha dog” in Miami. Next season will serve as a crucial one in determining his leadership and the way his perception as a player is deposited in the coming years.
Commentary by Brandon Wright