PHILADELPHIA - When people are spurned by the apple of their eye, it’s almost natural to expect a little bitterness to bubble to the surface.
After LeBron James made his decision to spurn Cleveland for the Miami Heat on national television, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert let loose with an entertaining, albeit ill-conceived statement that called James selfish, disloyal and narcissistic.
Gilbert’s rant was so over-the-top that NBA commissioner David Stern fined him $100K, calling his response to James’ move “ill-advised and imprudent.”
Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo certainly didn’t learn from Gilbert’s little dust-up with the commish and made headlines last week when he accused his former star player and James’ new teammate in South Beach, Chris Bosh, of quitting in his last season north of the border.
“Whether he was mentally checked out or just wasn’t quite into it down the stretch, he wasn’t the same guy,” Colangelo told Toronto radio station 590 The Fan. “I think everybody saw that, but no one wanted to acknowledge it.”
The Raptors fell from a playoff position at the All-Star break into ninth place in the Eastern Conference at the end of the season, while Bosh struggled with a pair of injuries.
The facts say Bosh averaged nearly 22 points and nine rebounds in 36 minutes per game during the month of March. In just two healthy games in April, he rung up a 28-point, 12-rebound game and a monster 42-point, 13-rebound effort.
Colangelo, however, feels Bosh took an inordinate amount of time recovering from an ankle injury that only should have necessitated a few days off.
“Despite limited swelling and any excessive damage on an MRI, he felt like he needed to sit,” Colangelo said. “I’m not even questioning Chris’ injury. I’m telling you he was cleared to play subject to tolerance on his part, and the tolerance just apparently wasn’t there and he chose not to play.”
It’s certainly understandable that a scorned Colangelo believes Bosh was in no hurry to return to the floor, but the All-Star’s performances when he actually did hit the floor don’t exactly point toward a guy mailing it in.
Colangelo then telegraphed his real problem, expressing an opinion that many league executives share. The Raptors’ basketball chief suggested the so-called Holy Trinity of James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade had been planning to play together for a long time and started firming up their plans while representing the Eastern Conference at last year’s All-Star game.
“This has been brewing for a while,” Colangelo said.
Bosh responded by telling a Toronto television station that he “put his heart and soul” into last season and plays “this game as hard as I can every time I step on the court.”
There is little doubt that Bosh wanted out of Toronto and was likely planning his exit for years but assuming he quit on his teammates and the fans that supported him for years is quite a leap to make.
New Phoenix Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu, who played with Bosh in Toronto last season, came to his former teammate’s defense.
“It’s funny that people will talk behind your back,” Turkoglu said in a phone interview from Turkey, where he is getting ready for the World Championships. “If Colangelo was feeling this way, why not have the guts to say it during the season? Why not say it to Chris?
“Chris has been a franchise player and he did a lot of good things for the Raptors. I don’t think he is the type of player to quit on his teammates.”
Colangelo is still feeling the pain of being dumped and can’t see the forest for the trees.
Wanting out and playing hard don’t have to be mutually exclusive ideologies.