Imagine you are a guy, a basketball player, who starts the playoffs with an experience of 11 playoff games, took part in only two first round series. You additionally haven't played playoff basketball in the previous two seasons at all. You're pretty much a greenhorn, right? You recently changed teams because you thought it was an opportunity to prove yourself on a bigger stage in the NBA. And here you are.
Your team advances through the rounds and you constantly contribute. You'll eventually will end up with 18.6 PPG and 8.5 RPG and more importantly, you match your regular season output in Points per Game while the other two stars on your team fail to do so. In both the Conference Finals and NBA Finals you even manage to outscore one of them, making you arguably the second most productive player on your team in these series. That's pretty solid because you were supposed to be only the third option on your team, isn't it?
By the end of the playoffs, your name will appear in all of the five most successful lineups of your team. Nobody else on your team will be able to say that about himself. You will rank 10th upon all players in the playoffs in Adjusted Plus/Minus despite playing alongside two of the greatest of their generation and your team will have played a huge 15.29 Points per 100 Possessions worse on the defensive end without you.
In the NBA Finals you give your all. You've never been on this big stage but you aren't choking. You appreciate the opportunity to play in the Finals and you actually care. In Game 3 you hit the game winner (YES!!), the first of your career in the playoffs. That's no surprise. You score a total of 31 Clutch Points in the playoffs and take a total of 21 Free Throws in that situation. The other two frontrunners are not that aggressive and only combine for 23 FGAs. You also shoot the higher percentage under pressure (50.00%). Turnovers in the Clutch? You: 2. Rest of the team: 13.
Before the crucial Game 5 and the series tied 2 a piece the other two stars of your team show immaturity in mocking the illness of an opponent. You remain professional. Your team loses that Game and you head into Game 6 facing elimination. Again you work your butt off. You understand that you've not already won. You get hacked inside but go 7-for-9 in in that game for 19 points. But nevertheless it isn't quite working for your team. So you decide to step up during a huddle and try to wake up your teammates despite not being the intended leader. Has no effect. After the final buzzer, you have lost. You congratulate the opponents but then it hits you. Heading for the locker room you collapse in grief in the tunnel. You worked so hard but came up short.
But you're a classy guy. Soon after that you enter the post-game presser and have some nice words for the opponent. You praise their work ethic and state that especially the other teams star (the one your teammates made fun of) definitely has earned that Championship. Meanwhile other guys are only busy pointing out that all their critics will still have a boring life in poverty after all. And because of that they don't really care. Wait ... they don't care? You did! You ended up on your knees when they should have been!
But did at least somebody took notice of your accomplishments? An inexperienced guy performing just the way it was expected from him on a stage he's never been before? Very few. Instead you are hated in a state that you've never even visited before. The Governor down there wants to elevate all players of the opposing team to honorary citizens, just because they've beaten you. Hell ... even your own fans had to be explained how to "Fan Up." Oh wait ... and you are considered tradeable in the media now because you are not a Dwight Howard.
Under other circumstances, you would have been noticed. You would have received praise.
But not if you're a member of the Miami Heat. Sometimes it's just not fair. But I am pretty sure at some point of your career you will look back, appreciate the experience and will be able to pull something good out of it. Just like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph and others this season. Not too sure I would say the same about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Well ... although you will have figured it out by now: Your name ... is Chris Bosh.
Just in case you might wonder: Obviously this is not about the Mavs. But I thought we could give a little bit of credit to a player that really deserves it. By the time he collapsed in the tunnel it made perfect sense. He was the only one of that Heat team that deeply cared. These Finals had to be a big deal for him. He came from Toronto and was pretty inexperienced in terms of playoffs games, especially big playoff games. Yet he played well and I thought he showed the most professional attitude of the Big 3 and all he got back was 'Hollywood'. Nobody noticed ... or at least nobody wrote about it*. So I thought somebody should do.
Plus he is a homeboy. We're the Champs and the good guys. And that's what good guys do.
* Actually Danny Chau did it an article for HardwoodParoxysm.com today