Chris Bosh’s battle with blood clots has taken another grim turn, as Heat doctors found an unspecified complication related to his clotting disorder during the team physical that was supposed to have cleared him for training camp this month. The Heat have basically put the kibosh on any chance Bosh takes the court again in a Heat uniform.
At this point, Bosh says that he’s not giving up and wants to play again, but there are legitimate questions of whether he should. Even if Bosh is given clearance again by other doctors and released to sign with another team, would any of them take him? It’s impossible to say at this point, but we need to start seriously reckoning with the notion that his career is likely over.
When careers end, thoughts of the basketball-consuming public naturally turn to legacy, and that’s where we’re left when considering Bosh. So, what is his legacy? He stepped from a superstar role in relative obscurity in Toronto to a supporting role in quite possibly the brightest spotlight the sport has ever had, with LeBron’s Miami Heat. His reduced role led casual observers, overly dependent on box score numbers, to believe he was a diminished player in some way, but if anything, his game improved to a more nuanced, versatile role in which film and advanced stats sung his praises.
So, there might not be a universal consensus about just how good Bosh is, but one place attempts to build one: the Hall of Fame. If he has played his last game, will Chris Bosh be inducted? Though to be honest, a better way to phrase that question is, has he been good enough for long enough to convince voters?
It may not feel like it, but Bosh has been in the league for 13 years, and he played more than half of the games in each of the last two seasons, so he’s built an impressive resume. Basketball-reference’s very basic Similarity Score rates him right alongside Alex English, who was a pure scorer without much defense to speak of in the 1980’s — but he’s in the Hall of Fame. Bosh may have (probably) had his career shortened unnaturally, but it was already a lengthy and decorated one.
Everyone seems to agree that Pierce is a no-doubt Hall of Famer, but he does have about six years on Bosh. The thing is, the last few of them have been of a far lesser variety from his peak. Pierce played a particularly physical brand of basketball, and it clearly took its toll on him — distinct from the way Bosh probably preserved his body by taking less of the offensive load alongside the higher-volume Wade and LeBron. It’s not like Bosh did less work, however — he needed to keep that quickness to fulfill some of the most demanding parts of Erik Spoelstra’s high-intensity defense.
Bosh probably proved once and for all that he could have remained a star in terms of production if he wanted after LeBron left Miami by scoring 21 points per game and making the three-point shot a bigger –and more devastating — part of his offensive arsenal in the 2014-15 season. But for anyone paying the least bit of attention, he never needed to do that. He proved just how valuable he was by taking a reduced role (and for his first Heat contract, a lower salary than he deserved) for the sake of championships, and that will be the quality many local writers, long dependent on easy counting stats for their out-of-market opinions, will use to convince themselves of his worthiness.
Bosh’s career line sits at 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, with a stretch of elite defense in there as well. Not many centers can hedge on a high pick-and-roll and get back in enough time to defend the rim. Bosh could. He was also an integral part of two championship teams playing that sort of frenetic defense for eight months a year in four consecutive finals berths.
He will be a Hall of Famer, whether his career is over now, or in another half decade.