Derrick Rose is an amazing basketball talent and there is almost nothing he cannot do on the court. But after only three games of the monster NBA Eastern Conference finals series with the Miami Heat it has become abundantly clear to me that the real MVP of the NBA is not playing on the Chicago Bulls. Lebron James had a relatively quiet scoring night (22 points) in game three but he was absolutely the most dominant and “valuable” player on the court.
In almost 44 minutes LBJ put home 22 points on 6 of 13 shooting (9 for 9 at the free throw line) to go along with 6 big rebounds and a stellar 10 assists with zero turnovers. When the ball was in his hands the Bulls were on their toes with something seemingly good about to happen for the Miami Heat, whether he found the open man or just used his massive frame to get into the lane and ultimately on the free throw line.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have definitely helped take the load off of Lebron James, which was the whole point of him signing with the Heat but the real MVP of this series and really the entire NBA season is none other than Lebron James. An MVP has the ability to dominant the play for extended minutes and make the players around him better on a nightly basis, can we really say with a straight face that Derrick Rose does this better than LBJ?
As much as it probably pains a lot of people around the NBA after watching the playoffs unfold thus far there is no doubt who the best player in the game truly is. In fact as opposed to becoming irrelevant or “out of the conversation” I think the exact opposite is happening, Lebron is showing everybody he might still go down as the best player to ever play the game of basketball.
Lebron’s struggled in game one (as did the entire Heat team) as he scored only 15 points on a paltry 5 of 15 shooting night but even taking that game into consideration he has made Derrick Rose look like just another good player, but not an MVP of the league. Lebron has scored only 3 fewer points, has shot better, rebounded better, and more importantly has even more assists than the point guard Rose.
Lebron James is the best player in the NBA by a wide margin and the Miami Heat are going to beat the Chicago Bulls on their way to the NBA finals. Although Lebron James going to Miami was supposed to take him out of any MVP discussions the fact is there is nobody more valuable to their teams than the best player of the past 10-15 years.
Lebron James could and should have been the NBA’s most valuable player in 2010/11 and honestly if he so choose he could have strung off ten or more MVPs in a row given his talents and new situation in Miami. I am not afraid to say I was completely wrong when I felt he was going to make major personal sacrifices when he decided to “take his talents” to South Beach.
Scoring, rebounding, shot blocking, defensive presence, size/strength and playmaking Lebron James has no equal. Scary to think but he is actually better than ever and the true MVP.
Lebron James and Dwyane Wade have been on quite a roll over the past few weeks as the Miami Heat have fired off a ten game winning streak since last tasting defeat on November 27, 2010 to the Dallas Mavericks (in Dallas). Some have anointed them as the best team in the game now and they have finally “arrived” or “gelled” but until last night nobody has seemed to mention that another team in the Eastern Conference is on quite a little tear as well.
When Paul Pierce went into his trademark dribble drive followed by a pull-up 12-13 foot jump shot and nailed it with 0.4 seconds to go in a thrilling comeback victory for the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden (a great game by the way) people discovered that the Celtics are on a bit of a streak as well. The final dagger was almost nullified by a last second three-point shot that came just after the buzzer by New York Knicks stud power forward Amar’e Stoudemire.
After the replay showed the shot was no good the Celtics had officially won their eleventh game in a row and are continuing to show that the East runs through them, the “Big Two” in Miami be damned. Now I am not going to say the Heat haven’t been playing a more inspired brand of basketball and to reel off ten wins in a row is an accomplishment to itself but the Heat haven’t exactly been playing the stiffest of competition.
The cumulative records of the teams they have recently defeated (including beating the Cleveland Cavaliers twice) was an uninspiring 101-147, a .407 winning percentage. Not exactly a who’s who of winning ball clubs and their only real impressive victory over the past ten games was a road victory in Utah against the super strong Jazz. Sure, New Orleans (15-10) and Atlanta (16-10) have decent records but truth be told both teams have been playing horrible basketball for nearly a month.
This is not to say the Boston Celtics haven’t roughed up a few lacklustre NBA teams but since their last loss in Toronto versus the Raptors on November 21, 2010 the Celtics have beaten the surging New York Knicks, steady Denver Nuggets and the tough Chicago Bulls. Combined the records of the past 10 teams they have defeated (they beat New Jersey twice) is 122-145, good for a .457 winning clip. Again nothing to brag about but a pretty big difference when compared to the Heat’s hit list.
A lot can happen with so many games left to be played but as I see it now barring a Carmelo Anthony trade to the New York Knicks it appears the East will be a two team battle all season between the defending conference champion Boston Celtics and the “chosen” team down in South Beach. This would make for an interesting playoff series with the hardnosed, battle tested Celtics trying to stave off father time and the new kids on the block from Miami.
A lot of interesting story lines, matchups, beefs and grudges in what could prove to be one of the best playoff series in recent memory. Whichever team emerges victorious in the bloody battle had better hope they have some gas left in the tank as the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will be anxiously awaiting the survivor, and will give no inch or show any mercy.
Not with the deadliest assassin since MJ firmly in control, the ruthless Kobe Bryant.
This is the re-write, the first read very harsh and abrasive towards Chris Bosh and the way he ended his tenure, I think the word RuPaul was fairly prominent. I have come to realize I will miss Chris Bosh but perhaps not as much as he might end up missing Toronto, where he was without question the main attraction. In the end, life goes on, enjoy.
*UPDATE – May 24/2011* Lebron James showing the NBA why he is the best player of all time, why the Miami Heat will beat the Chicago Bulls and make it to the NBA finals in their first season together.
Based solely on numbers it is hard to argue that Chris Bosh wasn’t the best Raptor player in franchise history. If Vince Carter though enigmatic at times was the most talented then Chris Bosh was the most productive. However I have a feeling Chris Bosh will be the easier of the two to get over and slowly forgotten, something that cannot be said for Vin-sanity. Make no mistake Bosh will be booed heavily upon his return, that you can guarantee, and the first game back will be genuine ‘from the heart’ boo’s, but after that, they will boo because they feel they have to, not because they really deep down ‘Vince Carter hatred’ want to boo.
During last night’s interview with ‘Sportsnet’ (a pretty weak effort I must add, not exactly a tough line of questioning) Bosh said he does not regret the past seven years and what was accomplished with the team. I tried to do the math in my head quickly to try and comprehend the fact that Chris Bosh was a Raptor for seven years, it seemed like a lot less. For one, he had an NBA body for maybe two of them with a few meaningful games mixed into a mostly unremarkable tenure, even forgettable. Fact is trade Bosh for Lebron Jamesin Toronto last season and the Raptors are making a deep playoff run.
Just like basketball fans across the world have already forgotten about Chris Bosh, as Dwyane Wade and Lebron James are the two big ticket items in Miami. Legendary figures Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan didn’t even as much make mention of Chris Bosh when they weighed in on Lebron’s decision to ‘take his talents’ to South Beach. Chris Bosh can say (and tweet) all the right things and act like it doesn’t bother him, but I can almost guarantee that if he would have known Lebron James was going to ride into town and essentially make Chris Bosh the forgotten and dreaded third wheel almost immediately he might have chosen a different team, maybe even Toronto.
Chris Bosh is a very solid basketball player, but his game has excelled the past few seasons because the ball has been in his hands and he has been counted upon to be a playmaker. Bosh is not great off the ball, he does not possess the size or strength needed to push his way onto the block or get great position down low. He gets the ball from 15-feet with his strong face-up game and punishes the normally bigger and slower defender. As the third option, his numbers will plummet, and the things that the third option normally do (rebound, shot block, hustle, lockdown D) are the things we as Raptors fans know he does not excel at.
Bosh was our go-to scorer, for better or worse, but he was anything but a clutch rebounder, big time hustle guy or lockdown defender. You cannot blame one man for a team wide problem but when your power forward is not a huge body or a solid defensive rebounder, it shows, and how many nights Raptor fans were frustrated when the other team just killed us on the glass. Bosh lacks that toughness, that intestinal fortitude that screams “SPARTA!!!!”
Chris Bosh will still get his touches and a chance to chip in offensively, but one has to look no further than the defending champions in Boston to realize that for Bosh to contribute to the Heat in a meaningful way, he is going to have to make an effort to adopt the role Kevin Garnett has with the Celtics.
KG’s PPG dropped from his career high of 24.2 (2003/2004) to 18.8 in his first season with the Celtics. While Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will never be confused as pass first players, I’d venture to say Lebron James (20 attempts a night, 29.7 PPG last season) and Dwyane Wade (20 attempts, 26.6 PPG) dominate the ball a great deal more than the Celtics duo. For their careers, Allen has averaged 15.9 attempts per game (12.2 in 2010) and Pierce 16.6 (12.2 in 2010).
What made the Celtics great was Garnett did everything the other two would not. He was completely selfless as he set screens, hustled down every loose ball, rebounded with reckless abandon and played with an in your face toughness that dared a defender to drive the lane on him. The Celtics MVP might have been Paul Pierce, but everybody knew who made that team tick, it was a healthy Kevin Garnett. Chris Bosh is not on KG’s level in any of those categories, this isn’t to slam Bosh as a player but it’s just not what he developed into and what made him so valuable to the Toronto Raptors.
Like I mentioned above, nobody for better or worse will ever forget Vince Carter. Carter was silky smooth out of the basketball hotbed of North Carolina, we felt lucky to have him and during his peak I think the feeling was mutual. Bosh was goofy, almost nerdy, with his Kenyan marathon runners build and tiny head perched on top of that long body. He was tech savvy long before it was trendy, he made funny ‘You-tube’ videos but didn’t convey (and still doesn’t) the ‘South Beach’ style. Seriously, can you even picture Chris Bosh at a bar or club?
During the latest interview Bosh awkwardly mentioned Toronto was “different”, again. This time his defence was the metric system, “You hit the freeway and you see 40 KM per hour and you just know something is different”, relax it’s called the metric system and the speedometer on your Range Rover supports both. He stated prior that Toronto “even smelled different”, yeah fresh air (compared to Miami) does smell different Chris, you’re right. He could have mentioned in a country (USA) with a sky-high murder rate Miami (according to recent data) has 2.5 times the National murder rate – that’s different. Ok, I have wandered off topic.
We’ll have to wait and see how Bosh handles being the forgotten man on the most unforgettable team ever assembled and whether the game and style he brings will mesh well with LBJ and Wade. He likely envisioned playing second fiddle to Wade but still being highly utilized for the next five or six seasons but that is unlikely now and Bosh and his wonky knee will have to hope his body can grind out the type of work the Miami Heat are going to need out of him to be successful, because it certainly isn’t the 18-foot jump shots he is accustomed to taking.
The sobering reality is they just don’t make enough Roy Halladay’s, one of the greatest athletes to ever play in Toronto, hardworking and classy to the very end. How did Roy end his time in Toronto, he sincerely thanked the fans, he took out a full page ad in a Toronto newspaper and more importantly did not call us “weird” as Bosh essentially has with his odd and awkward statements.
Halladay is a CY Young winner, the very best at his position in all of baseball. Not some skinny, injury prone, undersized power forward who gave us one shallow division title (before the Celtics were re-born) and no playoff success.
Toronto fans are hoping the next chapter of the Raptors without Chris Bosh is also ‘different’, with sustained winning and meaningful basketball being that missing ingredient.