No, really people...seriously?
How can any self-respecting fan or media outlet be so easily reduced to a cyber-stalking high schooler over tweets submitted by free-agent-to-be Chris Bosh? Have we truly lost all sense of perspective? Is there really no haven for thought filtration anymore? Seriously? Three tweets in a week and people are apoplectic, desperate to brace themselves for a breakup before the other half has even made it clear they want to leave. Seriously?
Look, I understand that part of what makes athletes and athletics so endlessly fascinating is that at the core of any sport is a group of humans and human personalities that people want to get attached to. They are like hyper-realized versions of ourselves in that they take an interest or talent, but train exclusively and steadfastly in that one single area of expertise until their body and mind combine to bring them to the top percentile of the human population capable of doing what they do at the level at which they do it.
There is virtually no comparison in any other field on Earth, with the possible exception of medicine, but rarely are doctors asked to perform their feats in front of twenty-thousand drunk and angry spectators four nights a week.
People are compelled by these hyper-realized figures, they worship them and follow them and create relationships with them in order to fulfill whatever unique want or need it fills for each individual. It's one of the few areas left in our world where one can be totally and unabashedly devoted to a person or group of people without feeling the cynical stigma typically associated with that kind of fanaticism.
That said, one has to round back every once in a while to remember that these are still people. They are people who want to explore, people who want to try new things and people who have interests and emotional attachments that have nothing to do with the sport that they play. Chris Bosh, as much as anyone else, is that kind of person.
Bosh has spent his seven-year NBA career in relative purgatory. His team has played five of those years like the walking dead, endlessly repeating the same mistakes and endlessly dooming themselves to the same fate year-in and year-out. Only twice did the team make the post-season in that span, and each time they were throughly throttled by their opponent and rarely did they show any growth or development for having gone though such an ordeal. Unsurprisingly, Bosh has finally come to ask himself if maybe there isn't more out there for him to explore than this merry-go-round of disappointment.
So yes, Bosh, being the social-media savvy guy that he is (remember those interests that don't always begin and end with sports?), tweets his followers with innocuous questions about what they think his future should look like.
He's never been a free agent before, never known what it is like to play in another NBA city, and he's justifiably curious about what that process may yield. He's even curious to know how people he's never met feel about the subject. He isn't turning his back on Toronto or spitting upon the Raptors, he's simply entering into a whole new life experience and he's curious to explore all that that experience has to offer.
He's not preemptively divorcing Toronto, he's simply asking himself, for the first time that he's been allowed to, what else is out there. Keep in mind that this is a guy that made it a half-season longer than Vince Carter did in Toronto before he got that curiousity itch, and unlike Carter (or Damon Stoudamire before him) he never quit on his team or demanded a trade out of town as a way of bracing himself to scratch that itch.
Bosh has never spoken or acted like he has left Toronto in his rear-view mirror, and in fact he's always gone on the record stating that he loves the city and it would be hard for him to leave if that's the way the chips fall, yet people have begun willfully misinterpreting his curiousity as wanton infidelity. They've begun accusing him of cheating when all he's done is watch another pretty young thing walk by
He innocently indulges his curiousity over Twitter, a venue where people discuss bowel movements and political discourse with the same fervor, and it becomes national news on Canadian sports pages. Seriously?
Look, everyone knows at this point that if Bosh chooses to leave that he has every right to so - not only because he negotiated a contract that afforded him the opt-out that he intends to use this summer, but because after seven years he and the Raptors look no closer to contending than they did on his first day on the job.
If he decides that Houston or Miami or Chicago or whomever better suits his future than the Raptors do, then at least you can say that he and the Raptors tried their damnedest for over half a decade to make it work first. To start throwing vitriol at him now because he's allowing himself the chance to explore (and asking others to weigh in) seems misguided and reeks of vital misreading of the situation, with many acting like this is Vince Carter all over again.
Yes, Carter hurt this city, and yes if Bosh leaves it will leave a void on the Raptors that will be very difficult to replace, but the two players and the two scenarios are nothing alike.
Carter gave up on the Raptors long before he was shipped to New Jersey. His effort in his last season-and-a-half was laughably inconsistent. He never wanted to shoulder the weight of leadership and never wanted to shoulder the weight of mounting losses. He left the team eagerly after his wish to see his childhood idol Julius Erving interviewed for the team's vacant GM spot went unfulfilled (he'd had only a minor role in the Magic's front office in 1997 on his managerial résumé at that point), but he had checked out of the organization long before that event.
Bosh, conversely, had a career year in what might wind up being his last in Toronto. He accepted the role of leader eagerly, and while he wasn't always ideally suited for the job, he never once shied away from it and he worked hard to figure out how best to lead his so-so squad.
Bosh hated losing, he would never be found kidding around with opponents in 20-point losses. Bosh wants to start winning now and if he doesn't come back to Toronto it's because he doesn't see how the club can get him to a winning place in the lifetime of his next contract - nothing else.
That's perhaps the biggest difference between Carter and Bosh; Carter wanted out because the team was no longer bending over backwards for him and he'd grown tired of the media and fans calling him out for his questionable effort.
Bosh never asked for anything more than a group of teammates that he could go to war with every night, a group that shared his singular will to win. If he feels that this organization can't provide a winning core around him, can you really blame him for leaving?
You can complain that he might not be good enough to lead a team or be a franchise guy, but he can only be as good as he's going to be when he gives maximum effort. He can't do the things that LeBron and Kobe can do, and it isn't because of a lack of will - that just isn't in his prodigious skill set.
Nonetheless he, like LeBron, Kobe or any other NBA superstar, needs the right pieces around him to make him his best and that he can make their best in return and the Raptors never found that mix for Bosh. If he leaves, that's why.
Here's the thing, though: he's never said he was going to leave. He's never insinuated it, he's never declared it and he hasn't done it (yet).
I know patience is a dying virtue, but perhaps for the next month-and-a-half people can stop wildly overanalyzing Twitter posts and instead watch some wonderfully entertaining playoff basketball, see what goes down in a deep draft, and then check back in with Bosh when he is actually in the process of making his decision about his future.
Because, seriously, what is tangibly there in the Bosh narrative to obsess about until then?