We have not seen a longer, more gradual goodbye in South Florida sports — less an ending than a slow fade. We have not seen a goodbye so anticlimactically overshadowed in its timing.
None of it diminishes the athlete and the man to whom we say farewell, although it leaves a sense there has never been a proper goodbye, or appreciation.
Chris Bosh made Miami, city and team, better.
His impact was brief, and ill-fated, but profound. And beyond basketball.
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And his departure — made quietly official by the Heat on Tuesday, while fans were immersed in the Fourth of July holiday and in Gordon Hayward's free agency decision -- served as a jarring reminder how quickly things move and change, in sports as in life. Wasn't it just the day before yesterday when the Big 3 came together? When there was that arena event and civic celebration at which LeBron James promised "not one, not two, not three..." championships and then kept going?
It was 2010. And nothing keeps going.
While it lasted, though, it was audacious and it was wonderful. It made the Heat the most hated team in America, and it was wonderful. I always found it interesting that Dwyane Wade, LeBron and Bosh embraced the nickname "The Heatles," even wearing the T-shirts. It was a part of that audacity, of being comfortable compared to the incomparable Beatles. But it also was interesting because the Big 3, like the members of the seminal British band, each had their roles and personas.
Wade and LeBron were John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In any order you wished, they were the two stars. The men out front. Wade was the franchise icon, beloved, closest to Miami's heart. James was the superstar in his full powers, the biggest thing in the NBA, the lightning rod for all of the outward hatred and jealousy.
Bosh, the crane-like near 7-footer, was always the biggest man in the shadows. George Harrison or Ringo Starr, your pick. He was third of the Big 3, always, and always fine with that.
It took all three to reach four consecutive NBA Finals, winning two championships.
The dissolution of marriage was mostly ugly. Public and raw.
LeBron left July 11,2014 to return to Cleveland, left in a way that hurt and angered Pat Riley and seemed to leave bridges smoldering. Riley insists he's over it, a tough sell.
Wade did what few thought he ever would. He left, too, on July 6, 2016 -- one year ago today -- for his hometown of Chicago. He left awkwardness, frayed feelings, bruised ego and regret in the wake.
Bosh left Tuesday, officially, but months after his medical issues with blood clots made that inevitable. He'd missed all of last season and half of the previous two on doctor's advice or Heat caution. There had been disagreement between the player and team whether he was fit to safely play, so it was good to see the parting amicable from both sides.
Riley, saying, "He changed our lives for the better," immediately announced Bosh's No. 1 jersey would be retired -- an honor yet to be given James, by the way.
Bosh in turn Tweeted his thanks to the Heat, owner Micky Arison, Riley, Heat fans and the city of Miami.
At 33, Bosh's NBA career may be over. For his sake and future I hope it is. He has accomplished much in a likely Hall of Fame career. And anyone who follows him on social media knows how much family means to him, his wife Adrienne and five young children. And how much he embraces world travel ... the world beyond basketball.
Bosh always has conveyed the sense he was never an athlete first and only, a compliment I can give too rarely. There was always an inquisitiveness, an introspection, an easy smile. There was always a sense of the erudite, a sense of humor, a real man inside the freakish body. He once threw a birthday party for himself at Marlins Park. There were live camels.
We are all "one of a kind," but few of us are that in every shade of the term. This athlete and gentleman was.
Thank you, Chris Bosh.