Heat's Chris Bosh Quit on the Raptors?

| by The Sports Columnist

Forgive me for writing about this, but I wanted to say something before it's completely forgotten. After all, it happened in Toronto -- the one NBA city which is basically ignored because, well, it's in Canada (anyone remember the Vancouver Grizzlies?).

However, before we completely move on to covering Miami's "Big Three" or "Terrific Trio" or "D-Wade and Co.," it should be noted that LeBron James isn't the only member of the "insert name" that has been ripped since his departure from his previous team. Since Wade didn't leave the Heat, that leaves, yes, Chris Bosh, the seemingly inocuous All-Star -- but, no, not superstar -- who somehow, it appeared, held the most power during the free-agent negotiations in bringing all three to South Beach.

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said recently that Bosh, basically, quit on the Raptors as the team battled for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this past season, not coming back as quickly as he could from an injury.

The Raptors missed the playoffs by a game. One game.

(Side note: Of course, all a playoff spot would have meant was a bludgeoning at the hands of James' Cavs. But still, there's a big difference in fans' eyes -- and others' -- between being the eighth or ninth best team in a conference and making or missing the playoffs.)

Colangelo said that Bosh was cleared to play "subject to tolerance on his part," but instead chose to sit out an additional six games. Upon further examination, Bosh missed seven games in late February and early March -- a period during which Toronto went 3-4 -- nursing a sprained left ankle. He also missed the season's final five games, and most of a sixth, after fracturing two bones in his face. I'm assuming Colangelo isn't referring to that injury.

So Bosh sat out when he could have played on his ankle with the team still having more than 20 games to lock up a playoff spot. Then when he returned, he wasn't quite the same player the rest of the season -- with his point and rebound numbers both dipping -- which, I'm sure, is part of what Colangelo was referring to when he said:

"Whether he was mentally checked out or just wasn't quite into it down the stretch, he wasn't the same guy,"

I wouldn't call it a reason to bash Bosh too badly. It wasn't the end of the season. Maybe he wasn't quite in that panicked playoff mode yet. That's somewhat understandable. Still, this kind of action has to be wondered about, especially when a respected GM like Colangelo speaks out and we're talking about a place in Toronto where Vince Carter admitted to slacking during games and Tracy McGrady gotouttatownquick.

I'd like to hope Bosh becomes a better team player, winner and hard worker than those cousins. And I'm pretty sure we won't hear about him taking it easy when injured in Miami now that he'll play alongside James and Wade.

Still, this really leaves a sour taste in the mouth. As Colangelo mentioned, here was an organization that had worked really hard to surround Bosh with complementary players, mixing and matching and putting forth a lot of effort to try to build a winner. This is a team that lured a very good player (although he just had a down year), Hedo Turkoglu, from Orlando to Toronto. What?

Bosh has never had a reputation for taking it easy or sitting out when he can play. Although during four of his seven seasons abroad, he played 70 or fewer games (not by much, however: 67, 69, 70, 70). He only played more than 77 games once. He never played in all 82 games.

Perhaps that's just who he is -- a 75-regular-season-games-a-year player. And for the Heat, that should be just fine. Any lock-for-the-playoffs team knows that it's not what you do during the regular season; saving a little energy for the playoffs isn't a bad strategy. Just ask this past season's Celtics.

So Bosh will have that option now. Miami, with a healthy trio of stars, will never be in danger of coming close to missing the playoffs. That must be nice.

But for Bosh to sit out a half-dozen games for a team battling to stay in the playoff picture -- a team that ultimately missed them by a single game -- doesn't leave a good impression. So, yes, Toronto fans, boos are acceptable when he makes his return next season. Just no jersey burnings.

That's my analysis, thanks. Now let's get on with the good stuff. I heard there's going to be this pretty good team down in South Beach...