steph

Chris Bosh should just take being the next Pau Gasol instead of pretending he’s the next Tim Duncan. After watching him closely for seven years and enjoying the whopping three playoff wins he brought to us, it is with confidence that one can claim that he’s about as much a “centerpiece” as Carlos Boozer or Amare Stoudemire. There’s no shame in being any of those players and Bosh should, at least internally, accept that fact and try to pair himself up with someone who he can piggyback a championship off of. Think about Pau Gasol, does anybody have anything but respect for him and how he’s helped the Lakers to two championships? No, but centerpiece? No again.

Yesterday Bosh said:

“I’m not an addition. I’m a centerpiece. I have to have that confidence in myself, and I want people to know that, because I’m not somebody that helps out. I’m the guy you get like, ‘Yo, we’re going to win a championship, you’re gonna take us there.'”

A centerpiece is someone who 1) plays at a very high level, 2) inspires his teammates, 3) has great leadership skills, and 4) attracts other star players. I have no doubt that Chris Bosh can play at a high level, even though he’s only shown that he’s capable of that in stretches and not through the course of 82 games and the post-season. It’s the other attributes, or lack thereof of, that wouldn’t leave me crestfallen if he left. Every player has to be held accountable for the lack of effort and professionalism shown by the Raptors over the last two seasons, but it happened under the watch of their supposed leader, Bosh, and he has to take partial blame for it. He’s not responsible for Andrea Bargnani blowing help-defense coverages, but he is responsible for not making it an issue in the locker-room and taking it up with the player man-to-man. That is a leader and someone you can count on to anchor the team on the court and the dressing room.

This off-season has already shown us which free-agents have critical mass in the market. It’s LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, those are the two players that will attract other free-agents to wherever they go (or stay), and Wade is already in the ear of Bosh that Miami would be a great destination. James is obviously a given, and the recent interest from Cleveland about Bosh says that the thinking in Cleveland is that they believe that they can use LeBron James to attract Bosh. On the flip side, have you even read a single article which spoke of Chris Bosh using his star-power status to get a big name to Toronto? No, and there’s a reason for that, it’s because he’s a great sidekick, not somebody you gamble on as the centerpiece.

If Bosh is serious about being the centerpiece then he should re-sign with the Raptors without delay. Colangelo has repeatedly stated (wisely or unwisely, with or without a choice) that he believes Bosh will be the #1 man in Toronto, he can offer him the most money, and judging by Colangelo’s aggressive summer moves, he clearly does want to win. It’s Colangelo’s execution that has been the problem, never his attitude or commitment to the cause. Nobody’s quite sure what Bosh’s criteria for evaluating his possible destinations are, but if he is to be taken at his word then Toronto is definitely a good choice for him. If he truly believes that he is capable of being a franchise player by the true definition and meaning of the phrase, then he should take the challenge of transforming the Raptors from pretenders to contenders. That’s what Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have done, sure it took him a couple years to get going but they generated enough affinity towards other good players that they helped their respective franchises acquire players and eventually met with success.

I’m not quite sure what Bosh is shopping for, and why he hasn’t already signed an extension. He obviously likes the city, money is not a question, being #1 is not an issue, which leaves me to speculate that his confidence in the GM/ownership is dwindling. He’s not an idiot, just like you and I, he sees that Colangelo has failed the last three summers and is thinking whether Colangelo can finally turn it around or whether what we saw the last three years is just more of what is to come if he re-signs. I understand Bosh’s apprehension, nobody likes to play for a loser and he’s making sure that wherever he goes, the team will win enough to get him some recognition, some TNT/ESPN time, maybe even a halftime special on ABC; I can hardly blame him, every player would want that.

Continuing on with the centerpiece theme, Chicago, Miami, LA, Dallas, and Cleveland all have players that have a stranglehold on being the centerpiece, New York, Toronto, and Houston don’t. If Bosh is looking to move while seeking a challenge and retaining the benefits of playing in a big city, you have to give New York the slight edge. Otherwise, it’s Toronto.

After the disappointments of the last three seasons, I am hoping that Chris Bosh leaves so that this franchise can turn a new page. My hope is that his exit would be the first domino in a series of moves that would give the Raptors a new and exciting touch and make them play hard as a team while growing together, not as Chris Bosh + 4. There is nothing worse than mediocrity and judging by the last seven years, my fear is that that is exactly what the Raptors will be if we continue to build around Bosh and pamper him at every turn. After all, even if you insist on blaming the GM, the coach or his teammates, it’s been seven long years and we have nothing to show for having faith in him. Nothing.