Conspiracy Theory

Obviously the big NBA story of the summer was the forming of "The Superfriends" in Miami. There was much drama leading up to the opening of the free agency period, where there were several teams that cleared out their roster in order to create cap room to land one or more of the coveted free agents. But what if it was all just for show, and the decisions had already been made as long as a year ago?

We all saw Dan Gilbert's angry screed where he said about Lebron: "He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

I haven't gone back and watched those games, but I do recall as I watched them live, that Lebron seemed to lack that "eye of the tiger" that you see in players like Kobe, MJ, KG, Reggie Miller, hell, John Starks.

And then today, Bryan Colangelo (as well as Trey Kirby at "Ball Don't Lie") had this to say about Chris Bosh:

While it took Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert just a few hours to compose his well thought out Comic Sans screed against LeBron James(notes), other owners have been a bit more magnanimous with their reactions to losing key free agents. And though that's bad for blogging, it's good for business — no one wants to play for an owner who's going to slam their former players like that. However, now that a couple weeks have passed since the big free agents made their decisions, we're bound to get some carefully worded critiques of outgoing players. It should be fun.

First up to the plate is Bryan Colangelo, Toronto Raptors president and general manager. He spoke with Canadian radio host Bob McCown of FAN 590 on Monday, and he said a few things about Chris Bosh(notes)that a lot of people already thought to be true. Namely that he milks injuries, he gave up on the Raptors and — gasp — he might not be a franchise player. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun breaks it down:

Colangelo intoned that Bosh took a long time to return from injury even though he had been medically cleared and that he started thinking ahead to his future to the detriment of the Raptors.

"Despite limited swelling and any excessive damage on an MRI, he felt like he needed to sit for six more games ... 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," Colangelo said.

"The fact that our season was spiralling downward and we were hoping he'd come back sooner and we were also dealing with a few other things at that point ... we were really struggling there."


If you'll remember, the Raptors were in a neck-and-neck race for the eighth playoff seed towards the end of the season which they ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls by a single game. Do you think Chris Bosh playing in those six extra games he sat out would have made a difference? Yeah, me too.

However, Colangelo thinks that Bosh just didn't care by then.

"Whether he was mentally checked out or just wasn't quite into it down the stretch, he wasn't the same guy. I think everybody saw that, but no one wanted to acknowledge it."

"At the same time, I never felt we were quite in the game (in terms of signing Bosh to a new contract). There was too much out there, too much built up for him to take an easy out here, and he decided to do that."


Yikes. I'm not quite sure whether "mentally checked out" or "[took] an easy out" is a bigger indictment of Bosh, but it's good to see Colangelo covering all the bases. Just really carpet-bombing to make sure he addresses all of Bosh's flaws.

But to really drive home his point, Colangelo reached for the big gun — "he's not a franchise player" one.

"We tried in vain to put pieces around Chris. Different pieces, different styles. It didn't work out."

"No matter what type of player we brought in, it didn't seem to have the right mix with him as that centrepiece."


That's a burn, even if it kind of puts a bunch of the blame on Colangelo. After all, he's the one who acquired all those pieces that didn't fit, and brought in such underwhelming players that the best sidekick the Raptors could muster was Jose Calderon(notes). Nonetheless, you'd think franchise players would be easier to build around.

Of course, now that Bosh is going to be the best-paid third option in NBA history, all these complaints are basically irrelevant. Not only do the Heat not have to worry about building around Bosh, they shouldn't have to worry about him being checked in either. He's making a documentary about his free-agency process, so it's pretty obvious he'll be excited to catch dump-offs underneath the basket. Yeah, the injuries might still be a problem, but that's why the Heat signed Juwan Howard(notes). Filling in for injured big men is his favorite thing to do. That being said, $110 million is a lot of money for a third banana who milks injuries and gave up on his team just a few months ago.

So, what I'm wondering is, did Bosh and Lebron tank it down the stretch, because it would be easier, from a PR/brand equity point-of-view for Bosh to leave Toronto, having not made the playoffs, and easier for Lebron to ditch Cleveland having not won a championship? Was Lebron already out the door before the playoffs even started? Imagine if he had gone all the way to the finals, and maybe even won it all. He'd look pretty silly walking away from Cleveland. But if the Cavs lose, and if Toronto doesn't make the playoffs, it's so much easier to say "I just want to go where I can win."

I also sensed a lack of urgency about anything from Wade, and in hindsight it seems like he already knew how everything would unfold. That goes for all the players involved, actually. I know there were accusations of "tampering", and what the rules were regarding the various communications that were going on, and nothing ever came of it. But I have to imagine that making plans a whole season ahead of time while still under contract with the original team is not cool.

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