Did LeBron James lie to Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade before free agency?

LeBron James may go down as the most polarizing superstar to have ever touched the hardwood. No matter what James does, someone has an issue with it. The Decision, probably wasn’t the best idea, but the firestorm of criticism came before that as many NBA pundits would chastise James for “quitting” and failing to get the Cavs to the Finals.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014 with the Miami Heat coming off their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance. Although the Heat won two Finals during their four-year duration, their last defeat by the hands of the San Antonio Spurs wasn’t the trio’s best showing. Despite the Heat’s poor Finals performance, the threesome already had a plan in tact to return to South Beach – at least according to Chris Bosh.
 
Chris Bosh on plans for MIA entering last offseason: “I thought we were going to stay together. That was the plan. For us to keep it going.”
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) October 29, 2014
After LeBron made his decision to go back home, reports of t

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Bosh, Wade lead Heat past Grizzlies 104-98 (Yahoo Sports)

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 24: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat shoots against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 24, 2014 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade helped the Miami Heat close the preseason with their fourth straight win, but the reserves preserved the victory. Bosh scored 21 points, Wade added 16, and the Heat defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 104-98 on Friday night. ”I thought we did a good job, especially late in the preseason, of getting to our game and everyone still feeling comfortable in their roles.” The Heat bench pushed the lead to 17 early in the fourth quarter. Despite Memphis pulling within 94-91 near the 4-minute mark, the Grizzlies were unable to get closer.


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Dwyane Wade Should Take Back Seat to Chris Bosh for Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade used to lead the Miami Heat by example, helping the franchise fill the win column by leaving overstuffed stat lines next to his name.

During the past four seasons, though, he led by sacrifice, giving former teammate LeBron James control of everything from the biggest box scores to the key to the city. While James has bolted back to Ohio, the challenge for Wade hasn’t changed.

Miami still needs him to be in a giving mood; only versatile big man Chris Bosh will now be the one grabbing the wheel.

Bosh may not actually be a better player than Wade, but that has never been the motivation for the latter to give up control of the spotlight. During their first full season together, Wade and James sat on a nearly even plane. Both averaged more than 25 points (25.5 and 26.7, respectively) and six rebounds (6.4 and 7.5), and both hit at least half of their field-goal attempts (50.0 and 51.0).

Wade and James dominated together, and the Heat followed their lead to 58 wins and an NBA Finals appearance. As good as it was, Wade knew it could be better.

Despite clearly possessing superstar credentials of his own, he willingly signed off on a sidekick role that would ultimately better structure the franchise.

“Are we going to be good if me and him are both scoring 27 a night?” Wade said in 2012, per ESPN.com’s Israel Gutierrez. “Yeah, we’re gonna be good, but it would be too much, ‘OK, it’s your turn, now it’s your turn.’ I wanted to give him the opportunity where he didn’t have to think about that.”

With James at the controls and Wade filling in where needed, Miami claimed consecutive NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

That ceiling no longer exists in South Beach. Optimistic projections pit the Heat as one of several teams battling for the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed behind James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and the Derrick Rose-led Chicago Bulls.

Still, the blueprint to reach those expectations—or perhaps even surpass them—is the same as it was with a world title on the line: Wade needs to reprise his Robin role and let Bosh take over as Miami’s new Batman.

Bosh is younger than Wade (30 to 32), more durable (20 games missed the past three seasons to 58) and more expensive ($20.6 million to $15 million). All signs point to Bosh leading this team between the lines, including coach Erik Spoelstra‘s plan to take full advantage of his center’s deep bag of offensive tricks.

“What C.B. understands is he has a lot of responsibilities,” Spoelstra told reporters, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman, earlier this month. “And if we’re just talking offensive, he has a lot to do for us, in terms of facilitating, in terms of scoring, in terms of spacing the floor, and doing that from different areas on the court.”

It’s been a while since Bosh held center stage at this level.

He was the Toronto Raptors‘ focal point the first seven seasons of his career. During his final five years north of the border, he put up 22.8 points on 50.0 percent shooting and 9.9 rebounds a night. Back then, he would bully his defender on the low block, shred nets from the mid-range or explode to the basket off face-up looks from the elbow.

Heat fans rarely saw that part of Bosh’s arsenal.

With the slashing and post games of James and Wade, Miami didn’t need—or even want—Bosh to be a force around the basket. Instead, the Heat carved him a finesse role that played up his shooting touch on the perimeter.

Bosh attempted 168 threes during his entire tenure with Toronto. He launched 218 last season alone and connected on 74 of them (33.9 percent).

With James out, the Heat can’t afford to leave Bosh in a specialist’s role. They need to get him back on the low block and allow him to show he can still carry the burden as a No. 1 option.

But it’s not as simple as rediscovering his old Raptors form. What the Heat really need is an amalgamation of the interior force from back then with today’s perimeter threat, a superb scorer capable of putting up points from anywhere on the floor.

Blending those two styles together won’t be easy, but Bosh told Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling that he’s ready to embrace the challenge:

I really want to do it for the city of Miami—to show my evolution and my growth, and display a different level of my talent. It’s not easy; I went from [about] 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] in Toronto to 16 and 7 last season.

I’m a much better player than I was in Toronto, and I’ll be able to give Miami a lot more. I’m excited to really test out what I’ve done over these years, as far as leadership is concerned, as far as what’s on the court is concerned, and really put it out there.

As tough as the road ahead might be for Bosh, Wade’s could be far more difficult.

After having missed an average of 19 games the past three seasons, he can’t possibly know how his body will cooperate going forward. The Heat don’t have the depth to put him on a carefully managed maintenance plan like they did last season, so he’ll have to squeeze whatever he can out of his creaky knees.

“My focus is that every day, whether I’m feeling amazing or not, I want to come up here and practice and be available for my teammates,” he told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick. “Give them what I’m able to give them that day, and so forth. That’s the mindset I have.”

Miami might appreciate his effort, but it obviously needs something a tad more reliable to play the role of franchise face.

It’s imperative that Wade realizes this, as well. The Heat will gladly take what he can give, but they really just need to him to find his niche spot on the team’s new pecking order. It’s going to be an adjustment and probably not the most comfortable one, but to his credit, he is trying to find his place.

“I’m still finding my way with this team and this offense,” he said, per Winderman (via ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin). “So I’m still trying to see where I fit in. I know I can get a shot any time I want, but it’s about the quality of it more so than anything.”

Wade has been selective in the preseason (9.8 field-goal attempts in 23.6 minutes) but not all that efficient (40.8 percent shooting from the field). While exhibition stats aren’t the easiest to trust, these may well reflect the struggles Wade will have in reinventing himself for the good of this franchise again.

“It took Dwyane Wade about a season and a half to really figure out how to play next to LeBron James,” Helin wrote. “Now it’s taking some time to adjust to LeBron not being around.”

It’s not just about losing James, it’s also the additions of guys like Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Shabazz Napier and James Ennis. There are plenty of moving parts, and Wade must figure out how to fit a puzzle of which he used to be the centerpiece.

That job belongs to Bosh now, and he seems more than capable of handling it. As long as Wade respects that fact and properly assesses himself, Miami should still enter this campaign as it has the last several—strengthened by one of the better superstar sidekicks in the business.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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Bosh on playing with LeBron: ‘Frustrating’

The former LeBron teammate has advice for LeBron’s new teammate, Kevin Love.

      
 

 

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Bosh: Playing with LeBron will be ‘frustrating’ for Kevin Love

Is Chris Bosh taking shots at LeBron James, or simply telling the truth.   After admitting that he hasn’t spoken with James since LeBron returned to Cleveland, Bosh is now offer Kevin Love advice. During his conversation with Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report, Bosh stated that playing with James will probably be extremely frustrating for Kevin Love.
“Yeah, it’s a lot more difficult taking a step back, because you’re used to doing something a certain way and getting looks a certain way,” Bosh told Bleacher Report recently. “And then it’s like, well, no, for the benefit of the team, you have to get it here. “So even if you do like the left block, the volume of the left block is going to be different. Now you have to make those moves count. So with me, it was like a chess game. I’m doing this move and thinking about the next move and trying to stay five moves ahead. You’re not getting it as much. If you got one or two a game, it’s a lot different.” You don’t get your pick of the buffe

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Chris Bosh, Miami Heat Face Uphill Climb to Escape LeBron James’ Shadow

Life is drastically different for the Miami Heat, the defunct dynasty-seeker now headlined by Chris Bosh that—despite deft survival methods—faces an uphill climb out of the shadowy pit LeBron James‘ exit consigned them to.

Few teams, if any, could have reacted to James’ departure as skillfully and, most impressively, as swiftly. Four years removed from his first free-agent decision, the Cleveland Cavaliers were still in disarray, pining after postseason contention and earning only consecutive lottery appearances. The Heat, meanwhile, have pieced together a playoff hopeful merely weeks after a destiny-dooming loss.

But the hole James’ absence creates looms large.

Reflexive roster repairs and confidence-carting speeches haven’t created a new normal. They are only ingredients to what Miami must hope is a recipe for an instant escape from its lingering past.

 

Already Feeling the Heat

Insisting anything to the contrary is futile. 

Not even the Heat themselves, the recent standard for story-squashing, can avoid recognizing the ubiquitous hold James’ new digs has on their present-day standing. This is different. And like Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick points out, the difference between this brand of hardship and everything else the Heat have faced is obvious:

Erik Spoelstra is not particularly prone to emote from the podium or allow himself to get sucked into what he derisively describes as “storylines.” He’s more likely to insist something doesn’t matter, even when everyone with eyes and ears and sense knows it does, than to allow the slightest hint that it is affecting him or his team. That made it notable for the Miami Heat coach to acknowledge that this Saturday’s exhibition against the Cleveland Cavaliers was more than the typical preseason affair.

This isn’t to say Erik Spoelstra and the Heat haven’t tried to downplay the significance of the task at hand.

Attempts to whitewash this new, James-less reality are quite common. Spoelstra himself alleged at media day that it took “less than 10 minutes” for the Heat to come to terms with James’ return home. Bosh, the third fiddle turned primary offensive option, has also done his part.

Or rather, he’s tried.

“No,” he replied when asked if he’s talked with James since the latter signed in Cleveland, via ESPN.com.

“I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here,” he would add. ”If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them—if any.”

That instantly became breaking news. There was no escaping it. The bond shared between Bosh, James and Dwyane Wade has been idealized—and perhaps mythologized—over the last four years. That Bosh and James haven’t talked shop in months must mean something.

Anything.

Even if it doesn’t.

Roughly three months into their new era, this was the Heat’s first real taste of James’ power.

It wasn’t in their decision to extend the 30-year-old Bosh a max contract spanning five seasons. It wasn’t in their ability to quickly retool the roster with sound additions like Luol Deng. It didn’t even come during media day, when different versions of the same question, pertaining to the same player, were posed again and again.

No, it was Bosh’s response ahead of the Heat’s preseason matchup against the Cavaliers and the rapid overreaction it incited. This is what life without James will be like. The repetitive questions, the swelling storylines, the constant wonder, the incessant doubt—they’re all situational staples that won’t soon disappear.

 

Regular-Season Demons

Once meaningful games tip off, it’s only going to get worse.

Up to now, it’s been all locker-room dynamics and mindset-measuring. There have been no on-court displays or failures that double as incendiary devices. But there will be. And coping with the tactical repercussions of James’ departure will be equally difficult, if not worse.

James was that integral to the Heat’s dominance. It became more apparent than ever last season when they leaned on him to carry their three-peat hopes.

Removing him from Miami’s lineup is like purging the Golden State Warriors rotation of Stephen Curry then doing nothing and adding no one that replaces him. Curry assisted on 20.6 percent of all Golden State’s made field goals last year; James dropped dimes on 15.5 percent of all Miami’s made baskets. That’s in addition to leading the team in scoring. 

Bosh himself was particularly reliant on James’ playmaking abilities and court presence. More than 80 percent of his converted buckets came off assists. Nearly 30 percent of those shots were assisted by James alone.

And that’s one aspect of James’ tenure the Heat haven’t even started to replace. He was their point guard, their floor general. They don’t have that offensive pilot anymore.

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole aren’t ball-dominant distributors. They’re specialists. Wade and Josh McRoberts are their two most established playmakers, and rookie Shabazz Napier could see ample time at point guard by necessity.

Unless something changes soon, the Heat’s offense—the one that plummeted by 8.9 points per 100 possessions without James and saw its shooting percentages take a nosedive while he was on the bench—will be overly dependent on individual shot-creating and the inside-out abilities of a new No. 1 option who helped the Toronto Raptors to just two playoff berths over seven years in this exact role.

Counting on Bosh to reprise an act he left in Toronto more than four years ago qualifies as a risky gambit. His offensive versatility cannot be readily dismissed, but it’s fair to question whether the scoring load is one he can carry anymore. He’ll have to re-adapt his game to include post-ups and face-ups in addition to floor-spacing spot-up opportunities.

“The game has evolved to value three-point shooting, and the champions of the past half decade have proven that to be true time and time again,” CBS Sports’ Zach Harper wrote shortly after James left Miami. “Bosh’s evolution has been impressive, but if it can’t continue, the Heat regress into being an outdated sort on offense.”

Should this become a matter of how—not if—Bosh adequately shoulders Miami’s offense, the results will inevitably be pitted against those of years past. The Heat never finished outside the top six in offensive efficiency under James’ watch. Imagine the firestorm that will ensue if they finish outside the top 10 or lay an offensive egg all season.

Some level of regression is to be expected under the circumstances, but because of how much money they invested in sustained success, they—Bosh specifically—need to be successful. 

Cleveland was safeguarded against these expectations out of the gate. The Heat are not. This season isn’t supposed to be easy, but it’s not supposed to be meaningless, either.

The challenge is finding the requisite purpose that at least begins putting James’ exit behind them.

 

Long Road Back

Complicating the Heat’s situation even further is the new-look Cavaliers.

If their performance dwarfs that of the Heat’s—and in all likelihood, it will—it’s yet another reminder of what’s been lost. Worse, it’s one they have no control over.

Wade can remain healthy and appear in 80 regular-season contests for the first time in his career. Bosh could have his best season ever. Deng could look like the player he was in Chicago. Miami could not only make the playoffs but emerge as a genuine Eastern Conference contender.

None of that success—expected or unforeseen—would matter when weighed against the triumph Cleveland is fated to claim.

Nothing the Cavaliers did, nor ever could have done, would have pushed them beyond James’ departure themselves. He was still in Miami, competing for and caging championships, strengthening his legacy, cementing his status as one of the all-time greats.

Only when he returned were they freed from that exclusive hell. And similar latitude doesn’t await the Heat. There is no banking on him to return, no believing their current core exceeds the promise and productivity of Cleveland’s title-gazing foundation.

In the end, that’s what makes it so hard for the Heat to climb out of James’ shadow. 

There is no formula for escaping it, immediately or gradually. There is only hoping that, with time, it fades away on its own.

 

*Stats courtesy of NBA.com unless otherwise cited.

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Kevin Love Faces Unsettling Transition Alongside LeBron, Says Chris Bosh

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL  Chris Bosh and Kevin Love are in the same city this week, staying only about three kilometers apart, in advance of Saturday’s preseason game between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

But, in basketball terms, they have switched places.   

Bosh has now gone from a third—or second, depending on Dwyane Wade‘s statusoption on the Heat to the team’s first, in the absence of LeBron James.

And Love, it is safe to assume, will become the second or third option on the  Cavaliers, behind James and Kyrie Irving, after spending most of the past six seasons at the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ go-to guy. 

Love is certainly aware of the difference. At Cavaliers media day on Sept. 26, he quipped that he’d been “fortunate and unfortunate” enough to watch the playoffs for the past six years, to watch Bosh, Wade, and several San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks make sacrifices for the betterment of the group.    

“I’d be lying to myself and lying to everybody here if I was telling you I didn’t have to sacrifice,” Love said. “I think it’s going to have to be an effort throughout the entire team to do what’s best for the Cleveland Cavaliers. And we don’t know what that is really yet. But I’m going to do what’s best for this team to win, because at the end of the day that’s what we want, is to win.”

Everyone does. 

But what are the challenges?

Specifically, is it more difficult to go from a first option to a second or third optionas Love must do now—or from a second or third option to a first option? 

On these topics, Bosh was uniquely qualified to answer, having gone from first option in Toronto to third option for four years in Miami to, now, first option in Miami.

“Yeah, it’s a lot more difficult taking a step back, because you’re used to doing something a certain way and getting looks a certain way,” Bosh told Bleacher Report last week. “And then it’s like, well, no, for the benefit of the team, you have to get it here. So even if you do like the left block, the volume of the left block is going to be different. Now you have to make those moves count. So with me, it was like a chess game. I’m doing this move and thinking about the next move and trying to stay five moves ahead. You’re not getting it as much. If you got one or two a game, it’s a lot different.”

You don’t get your pick of the buffet.

“Exactly,” Bosh said. “You just get your entrée and that’s it. It’s like, wait a minute, I need my appetizer and my dessert and my drink, what are you doing? And my bread basket. What is going on? I’m hungry! It’s a lot different. But if you can get through it, good things can happen. But it never gets easy. Even up until my last year of doing it, it never gets easier.”

Nor does the constant din of hearing from family, friends and media about why you aren’t doing everything you once did.

“Exactly,” Bosh said. “‘You’ve got to do this! You’ve got to do that!’ So you’ve got to fight that. ‘Why don’t you do this? Well, you should do this!’ It’s like, man, they don’t need me to do that, I know what I’m doing. ‘Well, you should do this.’ And then eventually, on one of those days, all it takes is one time, well, maybe I should be doing this. It’s such a psychological battle.”

Love, at age 25, averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds his final season in Minnesota. Bosh, at age 25, averaged 24.0 points and 10.8 his final season in Toronto, and his averages declined in the four years since, as he reached greater heights (four NBA Finals, two championships) playing with James.

“It’s going to be very difficult for him,” Bosh said of Love’s new task. “Even if I was in his corner and I was able to tell him what to expect and what to do, it still doesn’t make any difference. You still have to go through things, you still have to figure out things on your own. It’s extremely difficult and extremely frustrating. He’s going to have to deal with that.”

Bosh noted Love’s previously high allotment of touches down low, where “he’s very, very good at using his body to get his shots off and stuff like that. Like I said before, [in Minnesota] he was able to play that game and set guys up. Now, it’s like, man, do I go to my move? He’s going to have to fight a lot of his instincts.” 

As Bosh fights others in Miami. 

He had a tendency to drift outside as James and Wade worked the inside. 

Now, as the roles of Bosh and Love invert, could their statistics reverse? 

“They might,” Bosh said. “In order for us to be successful, I’m going to have to turn up my numbers a lot. In order for them to be successful, he’s got to shave them down. And that’s not always the easiest thing to do. Everybody says they want to win. But when you start talking about sacrifice and doing what’s right for the team, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t mean that. I want to win, but…. There’s always a conjunction with that. It’s never what you think it is. And it’s always like your weakest point where you got to do it.” 

Bosh might not share that directly with Love.

But it’s clear that he will be interested in seeing how it plays out. 

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter,@EthanJSkolnick.

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Bosh hasn’t spoken to LeBron since he left Miami

‘If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them — if any.’

      
 

 

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Chris Bosh Says LeBron James Cut All Ties After Leaving Miami Heat

They say time heals all wounds but, it doesn’t seem to be the case with the Miami Heat toward LeBron James. Reports continue to surface from the Heat locker room surrounding LBJ’s decision to relocate to Cleveland with the Cavaliers—this time from Chris Bosh. Bosh was asked by reporters if his relationship with LeBron has continued since the breakup; shockingly Bosh replied, “No,” he hasn’t talked to LeBron since the Decision 2.0. The Associated Press reports via ESPN:
As to whether he was looking forward to seeing James on Saturday at the game in Rio de Janeiro, he replied with a lukewarm, “Yeah … I don’t know.” “I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here,” he said. “If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them — if any.”
The championship bromance between the Big 3 seemed to have is diminishing right before our very eyes. Bosh also chimed in on the hoop-la surrounding the highly anticipated Christmas day ma

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Chris Bosh says he hasn’t talked to LeBron since James left Heat

Bosh was always like the 3rd wheel when it came to The Big 3. He never seemed that tight with LeBron and was often left out of their partying. LeBron and Wade went to the podium as a duo, Bosh was left to answer questions alone. So, it is not surprising that since Bron left he hasn’t had any contact with Bosh.
Asked by reporters if he had talked to his former teammate since James’ decision to leave the Heat, Bosh answered a succinct: “no.” As to whether he was looking forward to seeing James on Saturday at the game in Rio de Janeiro, he replied with a lukewarm: “Yeah … I don’t know.” “I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here,” he said. “If guys aren’t in this locker room I don’t have much time for them — if any.”
Bosh seems a tad bit salty and even hurt by it, but that is how a lot of LeBron’s Cavs teammates felt when he left for Miami. If Bosh can use this as motivation look for a big year from him.

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