- Bulls-Heat: Series hub
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — LeBron James spent the better part of the past four days making headlines for “flopping”, according to Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Dwyane Wayne‘s curious wardrobe choices are more interesting than anything he’s contributing on the court right now, what with that nagging bone bruise in his right knee slowing him down.
And then there’s Chris Bosh, the man who Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra insists has been his team’s most important player for quite some time. Yeah, Spoelstra’s right. Bosh might not look like the stand-alone star he was in Toronto, but he has become the Heat’s X-factor. His nightly performance often pushes them over the top and allows the Heat to “play our game,” as the coach explained earlier in this postseason when he was trying to describe Bosh’s role in Miami.
LeBron is a machine who gives the Heat everything you’d expect a four-time MVP to give in the playoffs. And no one is suggesting that Bosh is challenging LeBron as the Heat’s most valuable player. But Bosh’s steady presence at his position is what unlocks the box for the Heat, who need to be able to spread the floor and attack to play at their best. He’s made Bulls forward Carlos Boozer the invisible man in a battle that is as one-sided as the Heat’s 3-1 series lead.
Bosh struggled in the series opener, finishing with just nine points and six rebounds as the Bulls shocked them at AmericanAirlines Arena. Since then, he’s schooled the Bulls routinely. He dropped 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in that Game 2 blowout win, 20 points, 19 boards, four assists and two blocks in that grimy Game 3 win at the United Center and another 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks in Monday night’s Game 4 rout.
Even more impressive than the numbers, though, is Bosh’s presence and the way he has stressed the Bulls. Wade has been a shell of himself in this series, which would provide an opening for teams good enough to still be participating in the playoffs. But not when Bosh is the threat he has been in this series.
Wade has been a warrior and should be lauded for the adjustments (in his ego and in his game) he’s made to accommodate both James and Bosh since they joined forces in Miami. But at this stage of their careers, you could make an argument that Bosh is more important to the Heat’s bottom line than is the beloved Wade. The Heat don’t get past the Bulls without Bosh playing at a high level in support of LeBron.
And it’s clear a single superstar will not be leading his team to a championship anytime soon. Just ask LeBron, who learned that the hard way in Cleveland, or better yet, Kevin Durant.
All that brings me back to that little stir Bosh created earlier this season when he told Fox Sports Florida that already a lock for the Hall of Fame.
“Hell, yeah, of course. I’ve been a Hall of Famer like four years ago,” he said. “And I say that very serious, though. I’ve talked about it before with my friends.”
I’ve talked it over with a few of my friends as well, and, to a man, they disagree with Bosh. They still have a hard time seeing him as a true Hall of Famer. But I’ve come around to Bosh’s side over the last two seasons. I remember the Heat wobbling last year while he was injured in the playoffs and the boost both he and Wade provided when they got healthy and helped the Heat put away the Oklahoma City Thunder in The Finals.
The Hall of Fame isn’t a far-fetched notion for a player with Bosh’s credentials: career averages of 20 points and nine rebounds, eight All-Star nominations (and counting) and who knows how many championship rings he ends up with during this run with the Heat.