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Michael Reaves/Getty Images
When the Miami Heat retire Chris Bosh‘s No. 1 jersey Tuesday night, it will not be without a tinge of incompleteness.
Two championships are a lot. A Hall of Fame resume does not reek of business unfinished and feats stolen. Thirteen years in the NBA is a long time. And yet, in Bosh’s case, it isn’t nearly long enough.
Blood-clot issues prematurely ended his career. His last appearance came in February 2016, at the age of 31, with three years left on his contract and at least just as many remaining on his heyday.
There will be this natural pull to wonder what might have been for the Heat in the post-LeBron James era had Bosh never been forced into retirement. He was that important to their plans, and as many forgot while he ceded status to James and Dwyane Wade, he was that good.
In the end, though, Tuesday is a celebration. Bosh earned this honor in his six years with Miami. His role during the Big Three era specifically remains special, not just because of the titles and photobombs, but because the gravity of what he did, of how much he meant, went underappreciated in real time.
Let’s look back at Bosh’s best moments over one of the wildest, most dominant four-year stretches in league history.
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Some of Chris Bosh’s best postgame party-crashing will make the official cut. The above karate-chopping bit did not.
Nor did his rendition of the robot.
Or his “I think we did real good!” euphoria.
Plenty of others were left off, too. It was not easy. They were all deserving in their own way. Never forget them.
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Using children as props is 100 percent not OK—in most cases.
We’re going to allow this one.
Carrying your daughter while videobombing counts as innocent-but-impressive multitasking.
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Props to Mario Chalmers for fake-sacrificing his body in the name of making LeBron James smile. His facial expressions throughout the entire clip are pleasantly cartoony, too.
Chris Bosh deserves a round of applause for staying in character just long enough to make this funny. His face is contorted into feigned rage for a half-tick after he releases Chalmers before returning to its normal, gleeful disposition, and it all just works.
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Look at the handles on the big fella!
It is not uncommon for 4s and 5s to lead fast breaks, but few put their defenders into the spin cycle at nearly top speed. Poor Tiago Splitter never stood a chance.
Consider this yet another reminder that Chris Bosh would be a fantastic fit in the present-day NBA.
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Get ready to see some variation of this action quite a few more times. Chris Bosh’s above-the-break threes became a staple for Miami’s offense by the end of the Big Three era.
LeBron James or Dwyane Wade would usually be the one feeding him with kick-outs from the lane or out of double-teams. Ray Allen set up this little game-winning doozy.
(Related: Can we have a dialogue about how much defensive attention a 37-year-old Jesus Shuttlesworth commanded from the freaking San Antonio Spurs?)
Game-winners always have a case to be ranked higher, but the degree of difficulty on this look wasn’t too high. Tim Duncan’s concern for the strong-side chaos left plenty of room to breathe. His closeout was admirable, particularly for a 36-year-old. But Bosh is 6’11”. The outstretched hands of a fellow big won’t obscure his vision.
Still, this make is special. The 2012-13 campaign was the first in which Bosh started jacking threes with any sort of real volume. And he only knocked them down at a 28.9 percent clip. Putting the Spurs away with his new, unpolished trick was a pretty big deal, and this particular trey marked the first time he’d ever hit three or more triples in a single game.
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Chris Bosh seldom received proper due for his defense. He never swatted shots with absurd volume, but he switched into space better than most bigs and was a smart rim protector.
Let’s call this Exhibit 10342198.
Though LeBron James’ bucket gave Miami a two-point lead, Damian Lillard thoroughly beat Norris Cole off the dribble. Bosh made a simple rotation off Robin Lopez, but he needed to reaaally get up to send back Lillard’s layup attempt.
P.S. I miss the 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers.
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After watching this video, it’s hard to believe Chris Bosh never shot better than 33.9 percent from beyond the arc during the Big Three era. He looked so comfortable firing up these jumpers. (He was a dream when it came to swishing 18-footers.)
Bosh went wild inside the final three minutes of a December 2013 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. He banged in treys on three consecutive possessions—the first of which included a super-duper-friendly bounce—and punched in 13 straight points overall.
Dwyane Wade needs a special shoutout here. The passes he threw on Bosh’s final two triples came at absolutely ridiculous angles.
This is a cool stretch to look back on. Bosh did not lack for dominant performances as a member of the Big Three, but there weren’t many opportunities for him to take over games while working from the outside in and playing off both Wade and LeBron James.
Seeing him topple Charlotte in crunch time, almost on his own, was pretty great.
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Chris Bosh was never lauded for his explosion, but he did have some detonative bounce to his game.
He yammed anyway.
Horford is a hero for trying to stop him. Smith gets a halfhearted fist bump for pretending to try.
Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams deserve doctorate degrees for understanding they couldn’t handle Bosh’s smoke in the first place.
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With LeBron James watching from the sidelines during this December matchup in Portland, Chris Bosh went full superstar. He dropped 37 points—second-most ever for him in the Big Three era—while going 15-of-26 from the floor, including a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the rainbow.
Bosh capped his performance off with this game-winning three. Dwyane Wade gets a spirited hug for throwing yet another nifty pass, but this wasn’t an especially easy look.
By the time Bosh gathered himself, he was a few feet behind the three-point line, with Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard up in his grill. It didn’t matter.
This was a semi-important moment for a Heat team coming off an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings the night before. Mostly, it was further evidence that Bosh remained superstar material, even as he surrendered touches and the spotlight to his marquee teammates.
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Me: Is this too high? It might be too high. It kind of definitely, positively, unequivocally is too high.
Also me: This isn’t high enough.
This is the GOAT of Chris Bosh’s videobomb portfolio. It is equal parts sudden, creepy and awesome.
His face is priceless. It’s like he’s genuinely lost, but deliberately looking into your soul, but also acting out a pop-up children’s book as part of a failed flash mob.
If you have a problem with this beating out a handful of game-winners, I understand. But as a general rule of thumb, if a player’s postgame troll job makes it into NBA 2K, it is instantly worth six game-winners, two victory-sealing blocks and 1.5 White House photobombs.
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The 2011 NBA Finals is a sore spot for the Big-Three-era Heat. LeBron James missed a ton of jumpers, and mighty Miami fell to the heavily underdogged Dallas Mavericks.
Chris Bosh’s clutch bucket down the stretch of Game 3 is still a standout memory.
Neither he (7-of-18) nor James (6-of-14) shot the ball particularly well, but this jumper helped the Heat secure a victory and get out to a 2-1 series lead. This was the play, the moment, when it felt like Miami could win without sniffing its offensive peak.
That Dallas went on to win the title by rattling off three consecutive victories dampens the overall meaning of this make. But big-time shots on the NBA Finals stage are always a huge deal.
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After missing most of the East’s 2012 semifinals and a good chunk of the conference finals with an abdominal strain, Chris Bosh returned in time to play hero against the Boston Celtics.
His first action came in Game 5, off the bench, and the Heat lost. He remained shaky in Game 6, but Miami pummeled Boston anyway.
Then, while still coming off the bench, he came alive in Game 7.
Bosh put up 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including two monster threes in the fourth quarter that created the breathing room necessary for the Heat to pull away. Talk about clutch.
No, seriously, let’s talk about it. Bosh was a crunch-time whiz. He didn’t always have the opportunity given his place in the pecking order, and his postseason clutch numbers aren’t the greatest. But he still left his mark in the most pivotal times.
Through four seasons of Big Three basketball, Bosh shot 54.4 percent in crunch time, including better than 43.3 percent from deep. Isolate just the regular season, and he connected on 57.6 percent of his looks in the clutch.
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Everyone remembers the rebound that set the stage for Miami’s 2013 title. But what about the blocks?
Chris Bosh swatted Tony Parker and Danny Green with under 35 seconds left in overtime of Game 6 against the Spurs. Blocking jumpers is tricky business, and he did it twice.
Derailing Parker’s shot in no-man’s land is easily the more impressive play. The Frenchman almost had him on skates, but Bosh hung tight enough to get skin on the ball with his close-out contest.
In hindsight, we don’t talk enough about how risky it was to contest Green’s corner three as time expired. Yes, the Heat were up, but the scantest bit of contact could have sent him to the line.
Bosh played it perfectly, though. The rest is history.
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Chris Elise/Getty Images
First championships are always special.
Granted, the series itself isn’t too memorable. The Heat dispatched an Oklahoma City Thunder team that wasn’t all the way ready in five games.
Bosh dropped 24 points in the title-clinching tilt, and his playing at the 5 was monumental. But the Finals didn’t have the feel of a real battle—not even during the games in which OKC kept things close.
This isn’t to diminish the achievement. The Heat needed this championship after falling to the Mavericks one year earlier. It was not only Bosh’s and LeBron James’ first title, but the start of validation for the Big Three’s formation.
It also marked the moment Miami turned Bosh into a full-time 5 and never looked back.
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Here’s what Chris Bosh told Kirk Goldsberry, then of Grantland, about The Rebound:
“It came right to me. I just reached up, grabbed it, and I knew we were down three. I’ve seen so many times where guys make the mistake to rush to dribble it out and throw up a bad shot. I just wanted to stop and assess the situation. I mean, it happened a lot faster than I can talk about it, but this is how it seemed to me: It was a few seconds but it seemed like an hour. All of these things are happening, and I remember feeling contact and noticing Manu right there, and Danny Green is right there, too.”
If Chris Bosh doesn’t grab LeBron James’ miss, there is no Game 7—no championship. Maybe the Spurs don’t repeat in 2014 without 2013’s letdown to motivate them, but if they do, the Heat’s Big Three era ends with a single title.
That changes everything.
Think about what could’ve happened over the 2013 offseason. Might the Heat have contemplated trading Bosh?
Better yet, think about how this era of Miami basketball would be remembered. Getting to four straight Finals isn’t nothing, but going 1-3 is so much different than 2-2. James is already criticized for his 3-6 record during the championship round. Michael Jordan supporters and Kobe Bryant stans would have a field day if he were 2-7.
With one rebound, Bosh saved the game, preserved Miami’s championship hopes and inoculated James’ legacy argument against even harsher critiques. Has the NBA ever seen a more important offensive board?
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David Alvarez/Getty Images
Sequels aren’t always better than the original. This one’s different.
Miami faced way more drama during the 2013 Finals than in 2012. The heart-pounding end to Game 6, the almost-as-frenetic conclusion to Game 7, the impact this title had on the Big Three’s legacy, what losing might’ve meant for the Spurs’ own run—it was all so overwhelming and important.
Sure, Chris Bosh has seen better offensive stretches. He missed all of his three-point attempts for the series and went 0-of-5 from the field in Game 7 amid foul trouble. But there’s The Rebound, The Blocks, his defense in general and the effects this title had on the Heat’s trajectory and legacy.
Both of Bosh’s championships matter. This one just means a little more.