When any relationship ends there is bound to be bitterness. Very rarely do former partners hang out and “shoot the breeze”after a break up. There are often hard feelings and things you blame the other side for.
In Toronto the latest divorce between basketball team and star player has finally gotten to the finger-pointing stage.
First, Bryan Colangelo had his turn talking about how things didn’t work out with Chris Bosh and where it all went wrong in his opinion. And now Chris Bosh has taken his turn setting the record straight.
Colangelo came out on the FAN590 recently and implied that Bosh had talked with people over the All-Star break and came back a different player. He didn’t play through pain at a pivotal moment in the season and wasn’t the dominant player in the second half of the season that he was in the first half. That ultimately helped cost the Raptors what seemed like a sure-fire playoff berth. ”Whether he was mentally checked out or just wasn’t quite into it down the stretch, he wasn’t the same guy. I think everybody saw that, but no one wanted to acknowledge it.”
Colangelo went on to add that the Raptors were never really an option for Bosh during free agency and much of the decision-making on Bosh’s future had been done long before July 1st. ”I never felt we were in the game. There was too much out there, too much built up for him to take an easy out here…”
Bosh refuted these claims, in a recent interview with Rogers Sportsnet, saying he “never gave anything less than his best.” “I play this game as hard as I can everytime I step on the court.” He seemed to take personal offense to the insinuation he had given anything but his best.
Colangelo had a right to say what he said although it did come off as a little harsh and is definitely getting blown way out of proportion by Raptor fans and media in both Canada and the U.S. Many Raptor fans held the belief that Bosh would leave after the season was through and that he played poorly in the second half, along with the rest of the team. Hedo Turkoglu probably helped hide some of Bosh’s effort issues with his off-court distractions and clearly lackadaisical play.
Bosh didn’t quit on the team, of that I am certain. He played his heart out down the stretch and tried, in vain, to get the Raptors to the playoffs. One needs only look to the Golden State game down the stretch where Bosh lay on the floor inconsolable in a defeat as a thrilling victory slipped through his hands. Perhaps, in the back of his mind though he was starting to think about free agency. Perhaps he took a bit longer coming back from his injury because he didn’t want to hurt his future. That is fair.
Colangelo feels a little jilted by Chris Bosh and for good reason. The Raptors offered him more money than anyone else and he barely looked Toronto’s way. Colangelo and the MLSE tried effortlessly to make Bosh the focal point of everything in Raptor land. Bosh was consulted on trades and free agent signings. His friends (Jarrett Jack) were brought on board to help keep him happy. He was given everything that a #1 guy in this league is given. This is where Colangelo went wrong.
Chris Bosh was never meant to be the focal point of the team. He is a power forward and it is hard to point at a top-tier team in this league that is built around a power forward. Jermaine O’neal, Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu all came in to help Chris Bosh along with a plethora of other role players and no mixture of players ever really got it done.
Chris Bosh should never have been made a focal point of the team. This is Colangelo’s mistake. It is ultimately what cost him the power forward in free agency. The fact that Colangelo is now talking smack about Bosh really isn’t necessary.
Even Hedo Turkoglu has weighed in on the subject, claiming that Bosh “isn’t the type of player to quit o his teammates.” He also took shots at the organization on his way out of town saying that “no one wants to go there anymore.”
Obviously Hedo Turkoglu is far from an expert on anything other than Pizza and Balls. But his comments ring loudly in a city that hasn’t seen a winning team in a long time. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come for this team or this city. Fans have come to see Vince, Tracy, Antonio, Delgado, Sundin, Halladay all leave town for greener pastures. The city has a wee bit of a complex when it comes to its star players.
Colangelo’s words came at a time when he is feeling very frustrated. The Jose Calderon-Tyson Chandler deal fell through at the last-minute after it had been reported and Matt Barnes publicly announced his signing before it was completed and then ended up not happening. The organization has gotten a little bit of flack for the large contract handed out to Amir Johnson and now the war of words with two of the teams high-profile players.
Colangelo was mearly speaking the voice of the fans. But sometimes the vice of the fans should come from the fans. Many felt Bosh was gone, checked out, packed and ready to go to LA, Chicago or Miami at the end of the year. He received mixed reactions in his last appearance at the ACC, in a suit. It was clear there was going to be hard feelings. But from the GM?
Yes, to the casual fan, Bosh did look like a different player after the All-Star Break and his numbers dipped right along with everyone else’s. Maybe there was something going on, Colangelo talked about it during the season and Bosh never refuted those claims. Maybe Pat Riley, Lebron and Wade had this planned all along. But there is nothing that can be done about that now.
Bosh couldn’t get the job done as the #1 guy and Colangelo couldn’t build a team to compliment him. They should share the blame in this mess.
Chris Bosh will be booed upon his return to Toronto, of this I am also certain. He was this city’s best player and he left town for nothing. That hurts if you’re a fan. What hurts more is that he realized what Colangelo could or would not. Bosh isn’t a #1 player. Bosh is off to Miami to be a #3 player behind Lebron and Dwayne Wade. That is what burns Raptor fans up. He was our number one, our first, our last, our everything and now he is happy to be another teams #3. For that Bosh will hear the boos.
As for Colangelo, I think it is fair to say that the honeymoon is now over. He came here and rebuilt this franchise from its darkest days into a perennial playoff contender and Atlantic division champions in one year. He will now have to work his magic again. The Raptors have once again lost their number one player, find themselves owing a lot of money to players who don’t necessarily deserve it, and don’t have the luxury of being able to tank for a high pick in this market starved for a winner. Colangelo and his brain trust will have to put on their thinking caps or Bosh won’t be the only one getting booed this season at the ACC.
Sometimes in a divorce, both sides lose out and trying to throw the other under the bus will only help in losing the respect of the ones you truly care about: the kids, or in this case the fans.
So are you Team Bosh or Team Colangelo? I’m thinking the way to go is Team Raptor.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald