Earlier this season, Chris Bosh was passed over as a Hall of Fame finalist. Is the once-upon-a-time Toronto Raptor deserving of enshrinement in Springfield, MA?
An 11-time NBA All-Star and twice crowned a world champion, Chris Bosh ranks in the top 5 career scoring lists for two different NBA franchises – the Miami Heat, and of course, the Toronto Raptors. Surely if his career wasn’t cut short because of medical reasons, Bosh would be a no-brainer pick for the Hall of Fame, right?
There are many more accomplishments to list for this Georgia Tech product, but the name alone should immediately bring up thoughts of a Hall-of-Fame calibre player. That being said, Chris Bosh was not named as an eligible HOF player in his first possible year of eligibility, in a group that includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant. Most casual to expert-level basketball fans would probably rank Bosh as a stall worth of his era, right in the conversation with those aforementioned players, but why does CB4 seem to not receive the same level of love as his on-court peers? Although he may have been overshadowed in the prime of his career by teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, I think it’s more than fair to say that Chris Bosh deserves full enshrinement in the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
The first stat I like to look at when assessing the overall value of a player is win-shares. The stat, which could be explained in an entire article of its own, attempts to provide a single-number of on-court value that a player contributed to his team(s). For reference, the trio of Bryant, Duncan and Garnett accumulated win shares of 206.38, 191.42, and 172.74, which rank 7th, 9th, and 19th overall in NBA history. Then there’s Bosh, who, with 160.00 win shares comparatively ranks “only” 74th in NBA history. However, that mark lies a few notches above players such as Stephen Curry and Carmelo Anthony, who many have claimed to already be bonafide Hall-of-Famers, even before their careers have concluded. Likewise, Bosh also ranks right above current HOF players including Elgin Baylor, Maurice Cheeks, and Hal Greer, three legends of the game with tons of playoff pedigree as well. I think it’s important to use comparisons when considering one’s Hall-of-Fame candidacy, and using the war shares stat tells a large picture of how well a given player contributed to the sport of basketball. Yes, this is just a single metric among many that could be discussed, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle in forming a case for Bosh to the Hall. It’s also important to note that Bosh compiled these numbers in a career cut short by at least several seasons due to a blood clot issue. Had Bosh not been forced to retire early at age 31, the sky was the limit for how far he could have soared up the win shares leaderboard.
Next, there are the individual accomplishments of Chris Bosh, ranging from regular-season records to postseason heroics. Bosh is a rare player that can be considered an all-time great for not one, but two separate NBA franchises. His 10,275 points as a Raptor rank 2nd in franchise history, while his 6,914 points as a member of the Heat rank 5th in franchise history. In fact, it would be an entirely different debate as to what team Bosh should represent should he enter the Hall, since he excelled with both clubs he played for.
For his career, Bosh averaged 19.2 points on 49.4% shooting and collected 8.5 rebounds in addition to his near-20 points per game. Keep in mind, the majority of his career came as a post-only player; through his first ten seasons combined, Bosh shot a mere 87-302 from deep, then over his final three seasons, dramatically increased both his three-point usage and effectiveness- those numbers jumped to 218-608 from three-point land over the three seasons. The fact that Bosh was able to adjust and evolve his game shows that he remained a player who made adjustments to his game to help his team win. He specifically stepped up from third-man to leader on the 2015-16 Heat, which was playing in its second season after LeBron James’ return to Cleveland. In guiding the Heat to a 48-34 record, which ranked 3rd in the East, Bosh also scored a team-high 19.1 points and filled the role he had long held as the star of the Raptors for the mid-2000s.
But discussing Bosh’s career in Miami would almost be pointless without mentioning perhaps his defining moment down in South Beach. Trailing the Spurs 95-92 with under 20 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, the Heat needed a bucket to keep the game, and their season, alive. After a missed 3-pointer by James with ~10 seconds to go, the game appeared over and the reality of another crushing defeat in the NBA Finals was about to set in…
Not so fast.
It was Bosh who rose up above multiple San Antonio defenders to secure a season-saving rebound. With possession of the ball, he kicked it out to Ray Allen:
“Rebound Bosh. Back out to Allen, his three-pointer. BANG! Tie game with five seconds remaining!”
As history would have it, the Heat would go on to win the game in overtime, then win 95-88 in Game 7 to clinch Bosh’s and Miami’s second consecutive championship. This would go on to be Bosh’s last appearance in an NBA Finals, but his rebound is certainly among the most clutch plays in Finals’ history.
All that said, Bosh was simply a legend in a Miami Heat uniform. But after all, this IS a Toronto Raptors site, so we would be doing all ourselves a disservice to not discuss Bosh’s stardom in Ontario for the first 7 seasons of this NBA career.
For almost a decade, Bosh was the man on a Raptors team that seldom had other star players at all. During Toronto’s most successful season while Bosh was in town, he put up 22.6 points and 10.7 rebounds a game in a 2006-07 campaign that also marked Bosh’s first playoff appearance. It’s like he was playing in a different league. The next closest scorer, T.J. Ford, averaged just 14.0 points a game, while the next closest rebounder, Jose Garbajosa, grabbed a mere 4.9 boards each night. Even the most dedicated of Raptor fans might have a difficult time recalling those names. In being the clear leader of this team, Bosh brought the city of Toronto a memorable playoff series against the then-New Jersey Nets. Despite Toronto falling in the first round, the series was close throughout, with 4 of the 6 games being decided by six points or fewer. In the Game 6 elimination loss, Bosh still battled to the end, posting 23 points and an uncanny 9 assists in over 42 minutes of action.
The following season saw the same result for the Raptors; this time around, it was a first-round exit in a 4-1 series loss to Orlando. He may have never delivered to Toronto what Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry were able to do last season, but Bosh’s legacy for Canada’s only current NBA team goes far beyond the wins, losses, and playoff appearances. He brought some real excitement to a franchise that was a laughingstock of the league for much of its brief history before his arrival. Where Vince Carter stopped, Chris Bosh took over.
So, where does Bosh’s HOF candidacy stand now? After being passed over this year, he’ll have to wait another year to see if he gets the nod. A career shortened by health issues may have deprived Bosh of an opportunity at more championships or to take down more all-time greats in the record books, but what he accomplished in his 13 seasons as a professional is enough to make his case for Springfield.