Bitter Hypocrisy Behind Owners’ Criticism of Chris Bosh, LeBron James


August 1, 2010

All right, enough with this "quitting" thing. No one quit on anyone.

The latest basketball executive to drop the all-powerful "Q word" was Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo, who said in an interview with the Toronto radio station FAN 590 that Chris Bosh "checked out" at the end of his seventh and final season in a Raps uniform.

Bosh suffered a facial fracture in early April with the Raptors battling for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and rather than come back and fight for his team's life, Bosh elected to sit out. Colangelo wasn't happy.

"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.

Them's fighting words.

Bosh struck back, insisting that he's always played hard, and his final season with the Raptors was no exception.

"I play this game as hard as I can every time I step on the court," Bosh told the AP. "On the back of my jersey it says ?Bosh? ? The Boshes are hard workers. We have a lot of pride in what we do, in our jobs and in life."

Bosh isn't the first star who's had to defend himself. LeBron James caught similar heat after leaving Cleveland to join Bosh and Dwyane Wade and Miami; Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert lashed out at the King in his infamous post-"Decision" letter, calling the Akron native "cowardly" and "heartless." LeBron wanted to celebrate his arrival in South Beach to join Pat Riley's newfound basketball empire; instead, he was put on the defensive.

It doesn't seem fair. Bosh and James worked hard for seven years to get to where they are — they're now two of the most respected players in the game. Their bodies of work on the court speak for themselves. And all that respect is put in jeopardy over the words of a couple of bitter executives?

Think about it. If the two guys were quitters, then how could they have earned the respect of their teammates and their peers in the NBA?

If they were quitters, then what made them qualified to earn matching $110 million contracts with their new team?

If they were quitters, then why were they so heavily sought after this summer — even by the very teams that were accusing them in the next breath?

That's the really crazy part. Gilbert spent the first week of the July free-agent signing period desperately trying to woo LeBron back to Cleveland. Colangelo tried the same with Bosh in Toronto, although in his case he knew it was probably a lost cause. And yet these same men turned their backs on their star players the minute they left, pretending their mutual respect never existed.

It's blatant revisionism, and yet here we are still talking about it. Colangelo and Gilbert have thrust themselves into the spotlight for petty, completely irrational reasons.

It's like a bitter ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend making a scene storming out. It's humiliating, and yet you just can't look away.

Eventually Colangelo and Gilbert will get over their lost loves and move on. Until then, the summer of sour grapes continues.

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