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Old 04-23-2013, 07:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Bill Simmons thinks Chris Bosh is pretty pretty pretty good

The 13th-annual ranking of the NBA's top-50 players, Part 2 - Grantland

19. Chris Bosh
This is interesting …

2010 (age 25): 24.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 52% FG, 16.5 FGA, 8.4 FTA, 25.0 PER, 28.7 Usage, 36.1 MPG.

2013 (age 28): 16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 54% FG, 12.3 FGA, 4.1 FTA, 20.0 PER, 22.7 Usage, 33.3 MPG

Everything's explainable. After all, Miami uses Bosh differently than Toronto did. It's playing glorified small ball, spreading everyone around the perimeter, and keeping the paint open for LeBron and the Heat's slash-and-kick stuff. It's working. They won 66 games (only the 13th team to do that), including 27 in a row (second-best streak ever), and they're 15 victories away from completing one of the most dominant basketball seasons we've ever seen.12 I guarantee Bosh enjoys playing for Miami more than he enjoyed being The Man for the 2010 Raptors.

Still, it's hard to look at those numbers without wondering, "Is Chris Bosh severely overqualified for the role that Miami gave him?"

The answer: NO! He's actually perfect. Basketball teams are like rock bands — ideally, you want an alpha dog, a phenomenal second banana, then an unselfish third star who's sacrificing something for the greater good. The most successful basketball teams usually have some variation of that structure, whether it's Bird, McHale and DJ; Magic, Kareem and Worthy; Jordan, Pippen and Grant/Rodman; Shaq, Kobe and Horry; Moses, Toney and Doc; Isiah, Dumars and Rodman; Chitwood, Flatch and Merle; you can just keep going and going.

In music, anytime a band can't resolve an alpha dog battle, the band breaks up no matter how well it might be doing. (Lennon and McCartney are the most famous example, with the Gallagher brothers being the most underrated. And if you think Russell Hammond and Jeff Bebe didn't break up in 1978 or 1979, you're crazy.) It's also impossible to keep that alpha dog/talented second banana/glue guy structure going indefinitely, if only because of egos, money, popularity, petty feuds and everything else. That's what makes it so inconceivable that the Rolling Stones still perform even though Jagger and Richards have offended each other in every conceivable way. And that's what makes U2 such a historical anomaly: They've been playing together for 37 years without ever breaking up, save for one late-'80s hiccup when they nearly imploded after an unexpected round of backlash to Rattle and Hum. Or as it's known in my house, The Hilariously Pretentious Rattle and Hum.

What's the best parallel between a basketball team and a rock band? The Eagles. I realized this while watching Showtime's History of the Eagles, Part One documentary,13 an insightful examination of an iconic band that, frankly, I'd never really thought about before. When I was a teenager in the mid-'80s, the classic-rock radio format gave broken-up bands like the Eagles a second life. You couldn't attend a high school party without hearing their greatest-hits album. And really, they were structured like this Miami team. Glenn Frey/Dwyane Wade considered himself a co–alpha dog; Don Henley/LeBron James diplomatically shared the stage/ball with him; and guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner semi-begrudgingly settled into their "glue guy" roles. Eventually, everyone came to the same conclusion.

This is stupid. We have a transcendent talent here in Henley/LeBron. This is his band/team. Let's ride this guy.

So that's what they did. Only it couldn't have worked without Frey/Wade accepting the reality of the situation. Which he did. For a while, anyway. As for the "glue guys," Leadon and Meisner were both gone by 1977, unable to accept being shoved into the background. Guess what? The band was never more popular than it was in 1977. The lesson, as always: You can always get new glue guys. The Eagles lasted until 1980 before self-combusting for all the typical reasons that bands break up (jealousy, drugs, creative burnout), then reunited 14 years later for all the usual reasons that bands reunite (money, money and money). In basketball, you can't reunite 14 years later and start selling out arenas again with a shittier version of yourselves. If you blow it, you can't get it back. Just ask Shaq and Kobe.

Which brings us back to Bosh, a franchise player on half the teams in the league, only someone who's been relegated to that dreaded "Hey, dude, just play bass, sing background vocals and we'll give you one song on every album" role in Miami. He's getting handsomely paid — $17.5 million this season, $19.1 million next year, then player options for $20.6 million and $22.1 million after that — and as long as he's happy being the third option on the decade's most dominant team, they can surely accommodate those numbers. We love to think players value winning over everything else, if only because that's how we think WE would be. Here's the reality: You never know. Bosh's motivations might change after he's won two titles and made upwards of $86 million (and counting) playing basketball. Maybe he'll want to be The Guy. Or maybe he loves his role and being a part of history. We don't know.

But here's what we do know …

If you believe Miami could replace Bosh by dealing him in a package for two or three cheaper players (and cobbling his numbers together), you're saying that he's semi-expendable. And I beg to differ.14 With the way Miami plays basketball right now, you'd want an athletic "small-ball 5" as your third wheel, preferably an intelligent, unselfish teammate who (a) doesn't need a ton of shots to thrive, and (b) doubles as an above-average shooter. Well, check out Bosh's per-game averages on shots from 16 to 23 feet: 5.0 attempts (eighth highest in the NBA), 2.6 makes (second highest), 52 percent (best of anyone who took more than 2.2 per game). Only Kevin Garnett can match the specific things that Bosh does for Miami … and KG might retire in two months.

Bringing everything full circle: In a fantasy league or a video game, you'd trade Bosh for Love every time. You wouldn't even blink. But for what Miami is trying to do, I think I'd want Bosh. He's an overqualified bass player who doesn't mind going out there and killing it night after night after night for a transcendent band. He's making big bucks, and he gets to tell his grandkids that he played with LeBron James on a team that won 27 straight. Maybe his numbers went down, but I'd say everything worked out for Chris Bosh.
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