Mark Jackson’s only been back at his color analyst job for a couple of weeks. After his dismissal on May 6th, he was right back at his previous job –– calling games with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy in time for the Eastern Conference Finals. The swiftness with which that occurred is a story in and of itself, but we’ll save that for another time. But if you haven’t yet given Jackson and his agent a slowclap in your mind for that maneuver, you’re just hating, bruh.
In the time that Jackson’s been back he’s started working his patented catchphrases back into our living rooms. But then Jackson found a way to make his presence felt in another way—first in mentioning that LeBron James is the best small forward of all-time, which predictably set off a 48-hour maelstrom of outrage. The Bron diminishers, mostly oldheads who watch as their significance leaves their bodies one gray hair at a time, chose Larry Bird. The neophytes of course chose James. Though it’s hard to trust their tastes, since the 25-and-under set are mostly responsible for the rise of Future’s career and sadly, wearable tech.
Jackson’s other controversial comment is where we’ll start. In the midst of the Heat and Pacers series, he referred to Chris Bosh as a future Hall of Famer. He’s not the first person to say this either, so it’s not totally out of left field. Still, at first listen the notion that Bosh is worthy of that honor jars the common sense section of the brain. But then you go over the stats, his playoff success and you realize…that yeah, you were right the first time. The answer is no.
Jackson’s assertion rested upon Bosh’s numbers. Of course numbers, even though the numbers lobby has worked hard to convince the public otherwise, do in fact lie. They lie all the time. Random stats without purposeful context can be made to say anything. Every month the government drops its jobs report and the President says something about how much the economy is improving. News organizations and trained media people start doing cartwheels as if these numbers are the end all to be all. Meanwhile, these numbers don’t identify the specificity of these jobs. Most of them are low paying gigs, where unless you just finished taking prom pictures or you live in the Seattle area, don’t pay enough to exist on.
Numbers are supposed to be rigid, that’s how nature intended it. Mankind, however, we want numbers to work for us so we make them malleable. Make them do our bidding. This is an example of what Jackson is trying to do to us right now.
Bosh, drafted 4th in the 2003 Draft spent his first seven seasons posting more than respectable numbers up in the province of Ontario. His Raptors career numbers are 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 blocks. Additionally, he shot 49 percent from the field. He was 2nd Team All-NBA in the ‘06-’07 season. This dude was putting numbers on the board something ridiculous, making five All-Star Teams before he ever got to Dade County.
Thing is, these numbers didn’t make the trip to Miami with him. His Miami career averages sit at 17 and 6, which anyone would love to get from a team’s third option. It was a given that his Heat numbers would take a dive, but think about how many below average games Bosh throws up. Or how rare it is, that he has multiple double-double games in a playoff series? Or how badly he struggles to rebound?
Admittedly, I think his rebound in last year’s Game 6 (that preceded Ray Allen’s shot) is the greatest rebound of all-time. When he retires and they play his greatest moments clips during some random Heat halftime, that play will get the loudest ovation. It’s a marvelous play, but he doesn’t have a lot of those. In order to get HOF considerations, don’t you have to have several plays that make fans go “damn!” or something?
In Toronto his numbers were scored in a vacuum, essentially meaningless to the grand NBA scheme of things. You’d occasionally see him on a late night highlight reels and say to yourself something like “this Bosh dude is kinda alright.” There was never any real analysis however, because the Raps stunk. In Miami, with the brightest lights in sports glaring down everyday, his game has been looked at with much more scrutiny. His lack of post skills is further exposed, his ability to get pushed off the block by anyone over 210, illuminated. His hands are shaky, making feeding the post a turnover risk. He has great quickness to the rim, but he’s not always the most reliable finisher if he doesn’t dunk. Defensively, he struggles against inside scoring, getting muscled on the regular.
Crucially, Bosh’s output varies greatly from game to game. His role as a face-up forward isn’t revolutionary but, as it stands, Bosh doesn’t produce what he should at that position with any regularity and that should be the true marker of any HOF campaign. There are many games where his rebounding numbers are just abysmal. You can call plays for him, but never rely on him. Doesn’t a HOFer have to be reliable? Don’t they have to have a couple of series in a career in which they overachieve? Don’t they have to run roughshod and have announcers say “they have no answers for Bosh?” Have you ever heard anyone say that?
The thing is Bosh works for the Heat. His quickness and shooting (and now three-point shooting) allow Miami to play small ball effectively. Those abilities would be highly sought after anywhere in the NBA as offenses have skewed more and more to pick-and-role featured playbooks. Miami on the verge of a three-peat, so HOF or not, he helps them. He’s a good player. So was Robert Horry. And if Horry, however unfairly, can’t be immortalized with the greats in Springfield, neither can Bosh.
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