Is Chris Bosh more Batman or Robin…
How good should a great basketball player make his team? This was the question posed to, and about, Chris Bosh last week when the Raptors’ pathetic play had them sitting below .500. Nobody questions whether Bosh is a great player, perhaps even one of the ten best in basketball, but they are increasingly asking whether or not he’s capable of being the leader of a championship squad.
This talk exists, because despite their horrendous play, the Raptors are basically being ceded the eighth seed in the East by Chicago’s medical staff. Of course, nobody has these questions for Dwayne Wade, whose Heat are a whopping two wins better than the Raptors, but that’s because Wade already has the shinny bling on his finger. On the other hand, Bosh has never led the Raptors past the first round.
Now, before we all get too worked up, I’d like to remind everyone that these questions once existed for Kevin Garnett. When KG was teamed with Wally Szczerbiak and Troy Hudson he lost in the first round. When he was teamed with Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell he went to the conference championship, and when he was teamed with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, he won the big enchilada. What’s my point you ask?
Well, what if the Raptors had selected Andre Igoudala over Rafael Aroujo in 2004. What if the next year they’d picked Danny Granger when he inexplicably fell. And finally, what if in 2006 when they lucked into the first pick, well, what if they’d been bold enough to select a smart basketball kid, who maybe didn’t have the top flight athleticism scouts normally get wet over? What if they’d taken Brandon Roy? Obviously, you can look back on almost any draft and say, if so and so had taken that guy, but usually these are aided with hindsight. In the case of the Raptors, their picks were all, correctly, lampooned at the time. We knew Aroujo was going to be bad, we knew that Granger was better than Joey Graham, and while Andrea Bargnani was always intriguing, he was also only considered a lock for the top spot by Bryan Colangelo.
If the Raptors had instead made the fashionable choice, then you’re looking at a team with a crunch time five of Jose Calderon (or Jarret Jack), Igoudala, Granger, Roy and Bosh. Think that team isn’t going past round one? Is Roy or Bosh the leader of that team? I don’t know, but it’s probably irrelevant. Any way you look at it, with Roy, Iggy, and Granger as his running mates, nobody is now questioning Bosh’s chops.
Thus, ultimately, this is sort of like arguing who’s an ace in baseball, it only really matters in an academic sense. Or, it matters to NBA owners and GMs who have to figure out Bosh’s worth, but not to me, who just has to judge his play from the comfort of my sofa. Having said all of that, is Bosh better suited to being a number two?
It’s sort of like Pau Gasol. Pau led some solid squads in Memphis, but he was criticized because none of those teams breached the second round. He was too soft, too gangly, too indifferent to defense (sound familiar?), too foreign… But when he was traded to the Lakers, all those criticisms were washed away, as he became the perfect compliment to Kobe Bryant. The NBAs best sidekick.
There’s nothing wrong with being the perfect Robin. Scottie Pippen parlayed that into six NBA titles and top twenty-five all time status. Is it better to be Charles Barkley who was always his team’s best player, is considered one of the all time top twenty, and never won a title, or Scottie? Personally, I’d rather the six titles. Everybody grows up wanting to be Batman, but at season’s end, I’d rather be Robin sipping champagne, than the Green Latern watching on TV.