Monday, June 13, 2011

A Two-for-One: What do we think now?

On Saturday afternoon I read an article on Grantland that said some things about Chris Bosh. It inspired me to write a) about Bill Simmons’ new website and b) Chris Bosh. I was ready to let loose on how the Heat’s starting velociraptor was a huge punk because when he does something good or noteworthy, he makes sure to let you know about it, but that the hard façade is thinner than an M&M’s. He’ll hit the ground, flail his arm and scream his dino-call at the slightest bit of facial contact (or not), and for that I want to give his a noogie and a wedgie and Charlie horse all at the same time. Unfortunately, I got a little distracted in the middle of writing this post, had a cocktail or three and lost my train of thought. So before I go any further, here’s what I had going a couple days ago....

Chris Bosh, Vibe killer.

You may have noticed an addition to the sports media world this past week: The Sports Guy got his own website called Grantland. The anticipation has been building for months now and, given the staff that Simmons picked up for this new endeavor, there is little doubt that the output will be mostly good and at times terrific. But it all seems eerily similar to the day my older brother got his own phone line when he hit middle school (we had a phone that was better suited for a doctor’s office for some reason). There was no doubt Charlie’s output would be prolific and the seeming privacy of line 6 was more liberating than anything his 13-year-old mind could comprehend. But there was an undeniable presence looming above, ready to shut it down the second he crossed the line – Ma and Pa. With Grantland, the great concern is Bristol the Almighty, a force that could spoil even the most ideal sports haven.

Still, I look forward to much of the material that comes from this new project – I’ve loved Chuck Klosterman for a long time and Simmons poached some really great writers from all over the map, including something called Carles. I had never heard of this writer until yesterday, and was not terribly surprised to find out that, with a handle like that, he runs a site called Still, I must give it (that’s about as androgynous a name as there is, right?) some props for identifying the singular quality in Chris Bosh that makes me want to kick him in the shins over and over and over. From Carles at Grantland:

It’s so humanizing when a role player get [sic] a post-game interview, and admits that he knows he is not the reason people are filling the seats. That’s why Chris Bosh kills so many vibes. His personal brand doesn’t connect with our perception of him as a role player. Role players are usually the self-aware foundation of the NBA, providing insight into the A-list stars and the emotional state of the locker room.

Now, the premise of Chris Bosh as a role player will rub some people (my brother) the wrong way, but it appears pretty clear to me that Chris Bosh’s primary asset at this point is his ability to destroy defenses that have allocated too much attention and personnel to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The Miami Heat offense is dictated by the decisions of these two players and Bosh is particularly suited to capitalize on the opposing team’s inability to handle either or both of them. To me, that makes Chris Bosh the epitome of a role player. He is James Worthy on a team with Magic and Kareem, which is to say he’s potential Hall of Famer who feasts off the leftovers of two all-time greats.

But as it is with everything involving this Heat team, scrutiny is directed less at their on-court performance than their off-court persona. I’ve called Bosh soft and fugazi and dinosauric, and it all stems from the war cry he let out during the Big 3 introduction last summer. His bullshit superstar act has only accelerated this season to the point that I am vehemently rooting against the funny 7-footer that once made a hilarious commercial for his all-star campaign. I am ready to admit that that dude can play at an astoundingly high level, but he is a far cry from Mr. Wade, let alone LeBron.....

I’m not sure where I was going to go from there, which is probably why I gave into the rum bottle staring at me from across the room, but I stopped mostly because I don’t really care enough about Chris Bosh to write any more. As I thought about finishing that story today, I came across another Grantland article by a guy named Jay Caspian Kang (I know I’m not really one to talk, but where did Simmons find names like these?) and finally admitted that it’s still all about LeBron. The message was similar to those echoed by a couple other great writers today: that LeBron’s performance in games 2-6 was not appalling or disappointing as much as it was oddly familiar and sadly normal. From Mr. Caspian Kang:

He is quickly becoming the problem nobody cares enough to solve, the bully whom you endure, not because you feel threatened, but because you've long since given up trying to reason with him. For the most part, the response to the coughing video wasn't outrage or even confusion, but rather a collective rolling of the eyes and a deeply felt, deeply annoyed sigh. That, more than anything else, was just LeBron being LeBron.

BOOM! LeBron being LeBron is not a pretty sight, and I fear its only going to get worse. At some point during the last year, everyone began to accept the idea that LeBron was embracing this “evil” role, that he was going to thrive under this new Dark Knight veil. But that ain’t him. Did you see him host Saturday Night Live three years ago? Tell me that guy wants to spend the rest of his career feeding off hate. He doesn’t. And neither does Dwyane Wade. Both of them are jovial characters woefully unaware of the depth of their self-induced Catch-22. Well, maybe it’s not a real Catch-22 because there is a way out: recognize your mortality and take a slice of humble pie. True, James and Wade both gave credit to a superior Mavs team after the game last night, but LeBron also told his haters to essentially go back to their shitty lives while he settles into his mansion.

Yes, basketball fans across the country have spewed venom all over LeBron James and the Heat all season. I would say most of that stems from his stunningly brazen Decision, but it was seasoned with a heavy dose of racism. Still, LeBron willingly made that choice, in some ways accepted the “bad guy” role, then mocked Dirk Nowitzki’s cough as the 7’0” German took a dump all over his team – and yes it is his team because he is the best player in the world – fact. And LeBron played some of the worst basketball of his career in the process. I am trying to wrap my head around this guy and what will come of him – three days ago I was arguing with friends that in 10 years there will be no question as to who the best basketball player ever was: LeBron James. And who knows, maybe this loss will catapult him into a championship-winning machine. But the 2011 Finals will be known as much for his failures as Dirk’s brilliance (remember, those three games in a row decided by three points or fewer – this series easily could have been Miami in 5 or 6). David Thorpe called his play “atrocious,” and I’m not ready to go that far. But boy, he was a lot worse than he could have been, and Chris Bosh was just about right.


Charlie Widdoes said...

Nice work, Soom.

I would just hope everyone will keep in mind that Michael Jordan was 27 when he won his first title. LeBron James was 26 this year. The record clearly shows that I was the first person, since he entered the league (because I am nowhere near the AAU hoops expert that John and Dave are), that knew LeBron is a complete phony, possibly dim-witted, and the nothing like the hero that so many idiots thought he was in Cleveland. What frustrates me is that nothing changed when he chose to go to Miami, all the vitriol is either people realizing that he is a loser -- as a person, not as a player, which he always was -- or a reflection of their sadness that he spurned their team in free agency. That he never told Dan Gilbert he was going to leave Cleveland was lame, but you can't tell me Gilbert hasn't done enough to lose all the support he garnered in the whole situation. LeBron is the best, but like many have said, his style doesn't lend itself to scoring all the points, especially not with super-duper-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on his team. That's right, Super-Fricking-Duper-Star CHRIS BOSH (more on him in a minute).

The Mavs were a wonderfully constructed team that benefitted from the cohesion that only time together can bring. I have never believed in the idea that veterans are necessarily better at winning than young guys, but obviously this crew of Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Chandler, Marion and others knew their roles and executed them perfectly. I do not view this as a Heat collapse in general (aside from what could be called collapses individually in Games 2 and 4), I view this as a series win by a great team over another great team, one of which just had more size and slightly better performance from their role players like DeShawn Stevenson, who shot 13-23 from three. The reason he did that, of course, is because they had impeccable ball movement and the genius that is mark Cuban realized that adding a guy like DeShawn Stevenson might pay off in a Finals series in which they might need someone who can defend physically and knock down some open jumpers.

In closing, how about Chris Bosh? What a beast. LeBron-hatred is one thing, because he's the best player in the world and he actually wants to pass first and he hasn't been on a championship -winning teams and he is a turd and people will hate, I get that. But this Bosh stuff is so bizarre. The man is beautiful to watch on the basketball court, just like most of his teammates, and with every bit of mean-spirited bullshit that comes his way about being soft or crying, just serves to expose the majority of basketball fans as ignorant and completely out of touch with the game. Remind me again what's the problem with a big man that shoots 50%, with range, and plays good defense and has superb feel for the game? Was he soft when he made Kevin Garnett look 5 years past his expiration date? Was he soft when he made the city of Chicago wish they had never spent a dime on Carlos Boozer? Sorry he was unable to prevent Dirk from completing one of the most insane basketball moves I have ever seen, in which one of the greatest players on all time pump faked and pivoted over and over until he finally hit an extremely difficult contested layup for the win. It happens. Bosh ain't Dirk. But he's better than just about every other PF, and you'd think that too if he played for your team, or probably just if he didn't play for the Heat.

Go Mavs, I'm super excited they won, Dirk is an animal and Cuban is a equally so. Let's just try to keep things in perspective here when it comes to Miami.

Dave Hendrie said...

you cant blame Bosh for not being an offensive monster but he is one of the worst rebounding big men in the league. Miami would get stop after stop but Bosh would lose rebounds than any respectable big man--- let alone a supposedly great one would get.

In regards to Lebron, he had one of the better playoffs of all time. He closed game after game. In the finals, the Mavs doubled him so he passed it beautifully. It is telling that for all of the hate Lebron receives it is rarely from coaches. He plays the game the right way, was always the best defensive player on the court. My only complaint with his game was that he didn't take it to the rim early enough in the shot clock. Even this is somewhat muted because he couldn't go to the rim without getting a no call from the David Stern Refs.

Lebron is a national high school champion, gold medal winner, finalist on the worst team in NBA history (literally), and just went to game 6 where he lost to an unconscious team.

Side note: how can a team expect to win an NBA title when Juwan Howard and Eddie House play major minutes in the close out game. I love those guys but people need to wake up and realize how much of a patchwork group the heat were this year.

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