Don't put the blame on Bosh

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

Chris Bosh did not fail Toronto.

In the end, the Toronto Raptors failed him.

They had seven years to make it work, seven seasons to become relevant.

Now in a National Basketball Association world of teams that matter and teams that donít, teams that can compete and teams that canít, the Raptors have lost their signature player and are once again a franchise without any face.

Bosh put in his time in Toronto.

The seven seasons is longer than Doug Gilmour or Curtis Joseph played for the Maple Leafs, longer than Roberto Alomar played for the Blue Jays, longer than Vince Carter was a Raptor and the same number of years Bill Symons played for the Argonauts.

For most athletes, seven years is more than a lifetime: For Bosh, life begins now in the NBA spotlight on a Miami team that could win, maybe should win.

There was never any chance of that here.

There was only, a fleeting moment or three in franchise history, in 15 seasons of waiting and wondering, when the Raptors seemed on the verge of something special.

Only that something never came.

If you want to blame Bosh for anything, blame him for lacking the loyalty to insist that his contract be part of a sign-and-trade arrangement that would bring the Raptors back a nugget or two of gold in exchange for this NBA beanstalk.

Blame him for the frivolous manner in which he has treated the lead-up to and the eventual agreeing to terms with the Heat.

Blame him for his simple arrogance on his Twitter account, his excitement with being more celebrity than athlete.

But thatís all you can hold against him.

For almost all his time in Toronto, he was the best Raptor on a team that didnít have a whole lot else.

He was introduced to the NBA as a bystander in the Vince Carter poutfest.

He watched the Raptors squander Carter and wind up paying Alonzo Mourning

$9 million to go away.

He watched as the Raptors used their first-round choices on Rafael Araujo and Joey Graham and Charlie Villanueva and Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan and Roy Hibbert, who was just part of the now sad deal for Jermaine OíNeal.

None of those pieces have ever fit neatly and year after year, from Kevin OíNeill, to a brief instance with Sam Mitchell, to Jay Triano, has it looked like the Raptors were heading in the right direction.

Bosh lived up to his contractual obligations, if he didnít live up to his word.

He played about as well, most seasons, as he could be expected to play. But it was clear after his Olympic experience in Beijing in 2008 that he began to see the world differently.

He saw how well he fit in with the best players in the world, how much he enjoyed winning, even if it meant playing a role: He saw how limited his Toronto roster truly was.

That opened his eyes and in some ways closed his mind.

He listened to Bryan Colangelo, as we all have listened to Colangelo.

Colangelo is nothing if not an impressive man.

He sounds like he has today, tomorrow, next week and next month all taken care of at once. He is convincing and confident. But as Bill Parcells is apt to say, you are what your record says you are.

Colangelo made the now horrific deal with Indiana thinking OíNeal was the answer. The follow-up trade to Miami probably signalled the end for Bosh as a Raptor and also provided the Heat with the ability to sign Bosh without having to give anything back.

The OíNeal trade begat the Shawn Marion trade which begat the Hedo Turkoglu deal: All were once big names in the NBA.

All now, are bigger names than they are players.

With Bosh, the Raptors werenít a playoff team the last two seasons, and never won a playoff round in any of his seven years here.

Without him, it is back to the drawing board again, without a Damon Stoudamire, without a Tracy McGrady, without a Carter, without Bosh.

It is time to start over again for a franchise thatís never been good enough to prospect or bad enough to bottom out.

This is devastating for a Raptors franchise that couldnít win and has now lost its best player, couldnít rebound, and has lost its best rebounder.

The damage will be felt in terms of ticket sales, in terms of wins, in terms of reputation.

Chris Bosh didnít cause the damage: He was only a participant. If everyone in Raptorland had performed with as much success as he did, he never would have had reason to leave.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonsssteve


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