So there’s a pie sitting in front of Chris Bosh.
It’s a big, manhole-sized apple pie, like something that might be served at a Fourth of July picnic on the South Lawn of the White House. The upper crust is of traditional latticework — none of that fancy crumble-crust jazz here — and the apples were flown in from an organic orchard in Washington state. Ray Allen’s mom, known widely throughout the NBA to be arguably the best baker in the country, was hired to pull it all off.
It’s a patriotic fantasyland apple pie if ever there was one because (a) it’s not actually there and Bosh only imagined it on Tuesday at practice, and (b) the pie represents Bosh’s free agency this summer.
In other words, Bosh wasn’t handed just a slice of a professional basketball player’s American Dream this summer. Owner Micky Arison and the Miami Heat gave him the whole apple pie, and with all the fixings, too.
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Is there ice cream on top of Bosh’s pie?
“Hell yeah,” Bosh said.
A series of circumstances this summer mostly beyond Bosh’s control put wild, Boardwalk and Park Place-type generational money on his plate and in his pocket. He’s now set for good and all, and he’s 30 years old. Miami woke up with the mother of all hangovers this summer following its running four-year party with LeBron James. Bosh rolled out of bed and won the lottery.
His new five-year contract for $118,705,300 is completely guaranteed. When he settles in to take the opening tipoff of the 2014-15 season inside AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday night, Bosh will do so as the player with the most-guaranteed money in the NBA.
Much is unknown about this new Heat squad that will feature three new starters, eight new players, surgically repaired veterans and a handful of raw rookies or unproven talents. This much should be clear, though. It’s Bosh’s team, and he got it by default.
When James chose Cleveland over Miami, he made Bosh a rich and powerful man, but that’s not even the crazy part of Bosh’s free agency for the ages.
He actually had two equally delicious American Dream apple pies from which to choose. One was from Arison and the other was from Leslie Alexander, owner of the Houston Rockets.
Not bad for a center who averaged 16.2 points and a career-low 6.6 rebounds per game in a contract year.
Those were Bosh’s numbers last year, and they’re a big reason why he chose the Heat over the Rockets. Bosh likes to score, and given the choice of another deferred role with another title-contending team (the Rockets), or his own team with complete offensive autonomy (the Heat), Bosh didn’t need long to make his decision.
And he actually did it from Ghana while on safari.
How big of a slice on that apple pie chart of career-defining decisions was offensive freedom?
“A big slice, a nice slice,” Bosh said. “A big-man slice. Big. Huge. … An unhealthy slice. Close to half.”
Bosh’s dream feast begins Wednesday against the Wizards.
A franchise player for the Toronto Raptors before joining the Heat, Bosh was the good soldier in Miami for four years during the prime of his career. He accepted his role. He “sacrificed” offensively just like Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley preached. Bosh shouldered defensive responsibilities while James and Wade freelanced their way into one highlight reel after another.
“You think about it sometimes, and that’s the battle I had to fight,” Bosh said of the previous four years. “You see some things, you want to do some things a certain way, but that’s not my role with this team. I would be stepping on toes, and that would be kind of messing up the rhythm of the team if I did that.
“I had to step back because Dwyane and LeBron, we needed to get those guys going. … They got the play-call and I just worked it out from there.”
Bosh will be operating carte blanche on the offensive end this season. Post-ups, mid-range jumpers, from the elbow, from the corner, drive and dunk, spot-up from three-point range: it’s all there. That Bosh will be able to attempt whatever he wants on the basketball court this season is not up for debate. Can he actually do it, and can the Heat win with Bosh gunning like the old days in Toronto? Those are the mainspring questions for this team.
Bosh averaged 32 minutes per game last year, and two fewer than that during the first half. He knows he’ll need to be between “39, 37 minutes, something like that” for the Heat to reach its full potential.
“That’s going to be the hard part,” Bosh said. “Offensive freedom and stuff, OK, that’s easy. Now put more minutes on top of it. That’s what’s going to be a huge challenge for me.”
Too much pie is never a bad idea, until it is.
Wizards at Heat
When/where: 7:30 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish)
Series: Heat leads 72-33.
Noteworthy: Starter Nene and reserves DeJuan Blair, Daniel Orton and Xavier Silas are out, serving one-game suspensions for leaving the bench during an offseason game with the Bulls. Starter Bradley Beal (wrist) is also out. Norris Cole, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Shawne Williams and Chris Bosh are the Heat’s projected starters. Williams is starting in place of Josh McRoberts (toe).