What could have been if Chris Bosh didn’t retire early?

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Former Toronto Raptors star Chris Bosh’s time in the NBA is being rewarded with a Hall of Fame nod. Rarely has a player been more universally loved as Bosh is, so the usually snide comments from the back of the room about the validity of his HOF case are starting to melt away.

Bosh had his NBA career cut short by a health condition that went beyond a tear or pull or strain. To briefly sum up, Bosh’s blood developed a tendency to clot, resulting in the need for blood-thinning medication.  Those blood thinners fixed the clotting, but they also made him more susceptible to fluid bleeding.

This made harmless cuts a lot less so, and as something that’s only too common as a professional athlete, Bosh was forced to retire from basketball at only 31 years of age.

And still, he’s a Hall of Famer! Only a few months ago, Bosh was announced as one of three NBA players to be inducted into the Hall this coming spring. Bosh, alongside all-stars Chris Webber and Paul Pierce each had very different NBA careers, but the thing they all share is a love and respect from their peers.

And despite all that, despite the Hall of Fame career, multiple all-star games, All-NBA teams, and championships, Bosh still left so much on the table. A before-his-time offensive talent at the PF position, despite the success, Bosh’s career was influential despite the anticlimactic conclusion.

Toronto Raptors legend Chris Bosh remains criminally underrated.

Raptors fans remember a fully unleashed Bosh. Someone who was putting up 24 and 11 every night, carrying a ragtag team of miscreants to the playoffs, and being the sole beacon of light in the NBA backwater that was late 2000s Toronto.

Think of what Bosh could have been if he had had all the right breaks in his career.  f he had come into the league today where his talents as a shooter and speed as a big man would be truly appreciated.  If his medical condition was discovered earlier or better yet didn’t exist. Could he have been the number one man on a finals team instead of a number three?

Oh what could have been…

Chris Bosh: Drafted before his time

The offensive style of the superstar big men we’re seeing today was built on the shoulders of men like Bosh. Speed, fluidity, versatility on the defensive end, and of course the ability to stretch the floor with an outside game.

It’s honestly a shame Bosh wasn’t drafted in 2013. To think about how he’d be used as a small-ball five today, a finishing hub from all three levels of the court. He’d average 28 a game no doubt.

The basketball era Bosh grew up in saw a time where the NBA game was never slower. Where plodding, back to the basket bigs reigned supreme, where 3-point shooting was few and far between, none of it played to Bosh’s strengths.

He came into the league in 2003-04, a year where the league average for points per game was 93.4 a night. Teams averaged 112.1 points a game in the 2020-21 season. If he was averaging 23 points a game in 2005, think about what he could be doing now with the emphasis on scoring, perimeter centers, and teams taking 10 3-pointers a quarter.

The fluidity at his size was the key to his scoring bag. Sure the shooting was ahead of its time, but it was how he could move at almost 7-feet tall that promised success in any era.

He was a unicorn. Truly. We just didn’t know how valuable he was until it was too late.

There’s so much tough luck involved with Bosh’s NBA career, but really he had the talent to excel in any era. He’s such a gentleman, he’ll never admit it in interviews or articles, so we as fans have to do it for him.

SAITAMA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 10: Retired NBA player Chris Bosh  (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Chris Bosh: Retired before his time

We can look back on what he could have been if he played his prime in 2021, but how about if he had just stayed in the league?

The blood condition that forced Bosh into an early retirement robbed the NBA of one of the best big guys in the game. As Raptors fans we like to remember his days of lofty stats in Toronto, but it’s easy to forget how good he was even in 2015.

In the 2015-16 season, his last in the NBA, Bosh was a 31-year-old All-Star averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds as the second option on the No. 3 seed Miami Heat. He was FAR from washed up, and he was still able to be a top star for a playoff team.

Bosh made a personal sacrifice when he joined the Heat in 2010. He knew he was going to be the 3rd option behind that all-time duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but he also knew that this was his best chance to win the title.

From ’05 to ’09 (his prime years with the Raptors) Bosh averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds per game on 50% shooting, but in his time backing up LeBron and Wade his numbers dropped to 17.3 points and 7.4 boards.

That changed once LeBron left the Heat for Cleveland. Now the second option, Bosh’s two non-LeBron Heat seasons saw his raw numbers rise back up above the 20 point mark and shot a career-best 37% from 3-point range.

He was 31, his peak years may have been behind him, but Bosh still had a lot of really good basketball left in him when he was forced to hang ’em up. What would his career look like if he had stayed and played these last 7 NBA seasons?

What if Bosh had gone to play with his friend Carmelo Anthony in New York? Or played with James Harden and Dwight Howard in his home state of Texas? Or what if he decided to go back to Toronto? Would Bosh have been the missing piece to push the Lowry/DeRozan duo over the top? He was kind of the perfect piece those teams needed. We can always dream.

But maybe the biggest loss in Bosh’s early retirement was what he would have been as an off-court voice in the league. Bosh was always one of the most thoughtful, charismatic, and empathetic players in the NBA.

What we’re seeing now from Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver, J.J. Barea, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul. That veteran mentorship and leadership for the next generation, Bosh would have been incredible at that.

I’m sure the love fest will continue far into this upcoming NBA season, but this is the bitter/sweet nature of Bosh’s career.  By no fault of his own, it could have been so much better than it was, and he’s STILL a Hall of Famer.