Biased? That too. O’Neal is the same one who, after all, called Bosh “the RuPaul of big men” following a 2009 matchup between Bosh’s Toronto Raptors and Shaq’s Phoenix Suns.
“I’m not a popular guy, I guess,” Bosh was quoted in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in early February, the day after James and Wade were named starters for the NBA All-Star Game. Bosh finished fifth among forwards in the East. “I don’t think I am. I don’t appeal to the popular crowd.”
When asked why – and he’s been asked that question ad nauseam by local beat writers, GQ and Dime, among others – Bosh repeats what seems like an answer he’s rehearsed many times: I don’t know … That’s a good question … It doesn’t really matter to me … I’m just trying to be the best I can be.
He already might be the best teammate. When this version of the Miami Heat formed its nucleus during an unprecedented period of NBA free agency in 2010 – a trio of proven superstar deciding to sign with the same team when each could have chosen to be “The Man” on separate teams – Bosh took the biggest risk. He put his athletic legacy on the line by making the biggest sacrifice to see if this experiment could work. Because as much as NBA fans and media have argued over the Batman-or-Robin status of James and Wade, Bosh has always been cast as Aqua Man. He is the bronze medalist. In DimeMag.com columns following the signing, I took to calling him “And Bosh,” because his name is always mentioned last.
LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh.
D-Wade, LeBron and Bosh.
There’s no other way.
Whereas James endures arrows of criticism for allegedly conceding that he couldn’t win a championship as the clear-cut No. 1 marquee superstar, Bosh’s move to Miami meant that during his prime years, he would never be able to disprove the more damning accusation: That he was never a No. 1 star to begin with.
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But how bad can a team be whose third-best player is a top-20 talent in the league? Or to put it another way: How great can they be?
There was a reason why James, well-versed since his early days as a high school basketball phenom in the art of media savvy, felt confident enough to tick off predictions of six and seven and eight NBA championships for the Heat at the now-infamous post-signing, preseason party at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
And there was a reason why Year One for the Big Three – which would have been considered a resounding success for any other NBA team – has gone down in the Easy-Bake version of history as a flop. Putting a team on the floor that was completely remade from the season before, bringing together three superstars for a jam session when each has grown accustomed to being a bandleader, and expecting a championship right away probably was too much. But the Heat just had so much talent and so much confidence, a championship was the only acceptable outcome.
Miami still made it to the 2011 NBA Finals. When they lost to the veteran Dallas Mavericks in six games, however, the media and message board harpoons aimed at the three big fish would have one believe the Heat were an utter failure.