For the past four years, the tallest of Miami Heat's "Big Three" has been overlooked. Perhaps the most under-appreciated player in the NBA, Chris Bosh is a 6'10" Hall of Famer with an impressive team-first attitude and unimpressive (compared to his teammates, anyway) jersey sales. For Bosh, ceding the spotlight has worked. He’s won two titles with the Heat, which is two fewer than he wanted to grab over the last four years and two more than he would have won in Toronto. But’s that the past, and Bosh is now facing a decision that could determine his place in the pantheon of NBA big men. Does he take his talents to a team offering a max contract and a more prominent role, or does he return to the Heat for less money and a still-warm seat behind LeBron and Wade?
The answer is simple: Bosh needs to get out of Miami and get paid.
Bosh has made more than $123 million in his 11 seasons, so he needs the money like Pat Riley needs another ring. Still, he deserves it. Bosh is the best power forward in the game and he could be the first option on virtually any team in the NBA. The 30-year-old would be an automatic 20 and 10 guy if he wasn't LeBron's sidekick's sidekick. Bosh unselfishly putting aside his stats in order to defer to LeBron was commendable at first. At a certain point though, sacrificing your own legacy for someone else’s stops being honorable and starts being stupid. That point is now.
Here's why: In order to return to Miami, Bosh will have to take a massive pay cut. The $19 million he made last year would probably drop down to the $12 million range. If he leaves South Beach for a max deal he's looking at a raise that'll take his salary above $20 million. For a guy who owns two of the top three most expensive homes in the NBA, that’s maid money.
Leaving Miami wouldn't just mean more money, either. It would give Bosh a new challenge and a more prominent role. Right now, a roving Bosh would likely settle down in Houston, where the Rockets are reportedly offering a max deal. At worst, Bosh would be the second option on the Rockets. At best, James Harden would do what he did in Oklahoma City and defer to his elders in crunch time. Either way, Bosh would move closer to the top of the marquee. And Houston's not his only option. The Lakers might be interested in pairing him with Kobe Bryant as the Mamba rides off into the sunset. In L.A., Bosh could make more money and set himself up as the new face of the Lakers in one of the few cities more glamorous than Miami. Plus, there’s no better place to pursue his dreams of making it Hollywood.
Bosh may not want to be the one to break up the band, but he should be more concerned about spending the rest of his career playing the classics. This year’s finals aside, his time in South Florida was successful. That’s great and that’s that. It’s time for the big man to be just that.
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