After the rim had been the bearer of bad bounces, someone had to be the bearer of bad stats. Well, not really, but this reporter, following the Heat’s 99-90 overtime loss to Memphis, foolishly chose that role anyway.
“How many did I miss?” Chris Bosh asked late Tuesday during the course of a conversation about the odd ups and downs of the game he continues, in spite of its challenges, to love as a living.
He was told he missed 10 straight shots, including the one just before the regulation buzzer — though, upon later fact-checking, that count was actually one short of the reality. He had actually missed 11 straight after making 16-of-18 dating back to the start of the previous game.
“Ten in a row?” Bosh said. “Damn. It had to even up like that. Son of a (bleep). I thought it was like seven.”
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His smile as he said this might suggest to some that he wasn’t taking the situation seriously, but that would be yet another misinterpretation of the man who is so often misunderstood.
You would probably smile too, if you had endured and overcome as much as he has in 2015, a year that, in his words, “30 percent sucked.” That tough stretch, of course, came much earlier in the calendar, just after the All-Star game in February, when he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung that could have threatened his life and ultimately did end his 2014-15 season.
He kept telling everyone over the summer that he had completely recovered, and that has proven true. He has not only been a better player than last season, rebounding at a higher rate and committing turnovers at a lower rate while raising his shooting percentages from two-point range, three-point range and the foul line.
He has been the Heat’s best player, period.
He’s second in points (to Dwyane Wade) and rebounds (to Hassan Whiteside), but first in win shares (as measured by Basketball-Reference.com), and by far first in raw plus-minus (plus-95). He’s even more of a runaway first in the more complex metric of on-off net rating. When he’s on the court, Miami outscores opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions, and when he’s off, Miami is outscored by 4.7 points per 100 possessions. For context, the Heat is not a minus when missing any other player, which includes a plus-7.5 per 100 possessions without Luol Deng, a plus-7.1 per 100 possessions without Wade and a plus-5.9 per 100 possessions without Whiteside.
Again, we may be inclined to take this for granted, but we shouldn’t, not in light of the concern not so long ago. Certainly, he doesn’t, even if he is no longer referencing the adversity regularly. He just spins it positively.
“That gave me time to kind of do other stuff, pick up new hobbies and see parts of the world and have experiences that I probably wouldn’t have had until I retired,” Bosh said. “I knew it would never happen again. With all the thinking I had to do, I was like, well, let me go do stuff. Even my father was like, man, you get to think and reflect. What was the last time that you thought and reflected? I think I was like 10.”
And so, about missing 10, or 11, straight shots? When you know now that basketball isn’t anything close to life or death, how do you reconcile that with the occasional disappointments?
“Well, I mean, you just be in it,” Bosh said. “You just enjoy it. Enjoy the ups and enjoy the downs. Because the NBA is a gift. It’s something that I’m lucky to be in. Everybody doesn’t get that chance. A lot of guys would kill to be in it. So, like, man, when we’re up, cool, I’m enjoying it. When we’re down, hey, it’s not that bad, I’m enjoying it. And these are emotions we all asked for. So, a tough loss, just shake it off, come back, try the next time.”
So, yes, Tuesday, even with the unsatisfying finish, was fun. Challenging, frustrating, but fun. Fun competing with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Fun to take his shots. Fun to, as he said, “lay it out on the line in front of all these people.
“Just keep that in perspective,” Bosh added. “Like, all right, anytime it’s tough, like, well, it ain’t that bad. In hindsight, just looking at it, I could be laid up, with stuff poking in me, taking pain meds and all that stuff. So it’s not that bad.”
He’s back to being really good, after a really scary situation. That makes his the story to smile most about, when reviewing the Heat’s 2015.