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Dwyane Wade (L), Chris Bosh (C) and LeBron James greet guests at NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida July 9, 2010. (HANS DERYK/Reuters)
Dwyane Wade (L), Chris Bosh (C) and LeBron James greet guests at NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida July 9, 2010. (HANS DERYK/Reuters)

Bosh now villain

Chris, this is why fans don't like you now Add to ...

The erosion of Chris Bosh's credibility with a fan base that adopted him as one of their own for six-and-a-half seasons kicked into high gear (another fading playoff run had got it rolling) with a simple-seeming question on Twitter shortly after a disappointing Raptors season ended in April.

"Should I stay or should I go?" Bosh asked fans who'd supported him for his entire professional life, becoming the first Toronto athlete to quote himself out of context.

Then there was his appearance courtside at a Lakers playoff game and him musing: "I wonder if that MVP trophy is heavy?"

And in about 120 characters, give or take, the debate - such as it was - about whether Toronto would be better off with or without their all-time leading scorer and rebounder; a five-time all-star and generally decent-seeming human being, was over.

Should you stay or should you go? How about get the hell out?

And I say this as someone who dealt with Bosh weekly, if not daily, for years. Visited his condo in Toronto; hung out with him in Dallas; actually sat through First Ink.

There is a reason he is considered among the best athletes to work with in the NBA. He was available, thoughtful and often insightful in his role as the face of the Raptors franchise; and anyone who has ever watched Allen Iverson or LeBron James blow past people waiting patiently to talk with them can appreciate that's not always the case in the NBA.

No, how people treat the media is not a character test; but accepting the responsibility that comes with being a franchise player is, and Bosh passed it in Toronto over and over again.

But somewhere Bosh, for all his efforts to interact with fans via Twitter and YouTube and Facebook forgot the essence of it; which is - as in any interaction - try to imagine walking even half-a-kilometer in the other person's knock-off Guccis.

Teasing fans with the idea that they might have some say where you're going to sign as a free agent doesn't cut it. Musing about winning an MVP award before winning your first playoff series doesn't cut it. Starring in your own DVD about your own tattoo doesn't cut it.

Implying that all those 20-and-10s you put it up in Toronto were stats in the proverbial forest because they weren't on US television doesn't cut it; and complaining that one of the hardships of life on the wild white frontier - in Bosh's case a luxury condominium building over-looking Lake Ontario to the south and the lights of one of North America's most sophisticated cities to the East - was that he "couldn't get the good cable", doesn't cut it.

It all makes Bosh seem narcissistic and obnoxious. And the fact that he's not the most narcissistic and obnoxious-seeming guy on his new team - not by a long shot - in part explains why these first few weeks in Miami haven't gone so well.

As Bosh tells the Globe's Hayley Mick hanging in South Beach isn't all it's cracked up to be: "I don't know if you noticed, but we're not the most liked team in the NBA. So that's part of the consequence. And we can't do much about it except play hard."

All of which wouldn't matter if the Heat were winning and Bosh was playing at a high level. People might still resent them and him, but that would be pretty easy to ignore.

But nine games into the scenario he willed into reality the Heat are 5-4 and and Bosh is being widely questioned as the piece that doesn't fit; a finesse-type big man in a lineup in desperate need of a thumper.

His dreams of national exposure are turning into the nightmare of being exposed; his too-slow-rotations, excused in Toronto when he was putting up big numbers at the other end, make him suddenly part of the problem when 6-foot-1 Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics floats down the lane and dunks it on Bosh before he so much as slides over and puts up a hand.

Bosh's dreams have come true, all right. But he won't be lifting any MVP trophies, that's abundantly clear; he might not even make it to the playoffs if the Heat continue to struggle and Miami does see fit to trade him.

And the sad fact for him is that it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

 

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