August 23, 2010
Just after LeBron James(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) made their decisions to pal around with Dwyane Wade(notes) in Miami there were a wealth of reactions to be had. If you happened to be a Heat fan, you were pretty excited to add some serious firepower to Miami's fire-themed jerseys. If you were anything other than a Heat fan, you were angry, disappointed, sad or hungry among several other emotions. But if there's one thing this summer proved, regardless of fandom, it's that loyalty to a franchise was more important to fans than it was to players. We should have known that, but if for some reason you didn't, this offseason really demonstrated that to be true.
So it should be totally natural to read Chris Bosh's feelings on the total unimportance of loyalty from a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Paul Forrester. But it isn't. It still feels pretty weird. Check it out.
SI.com: What place should loyalty have in free agency, from the perspective of the team and the player?
Bosh: It should have none. Loyalty is an added bonus. It's great that some guys want to be loyal, but you can be unhappy trying to be loyal, and there's no reason to bring loyalty into the business room. It's like if you try to buy something from your friend for five bucks and then find another guy is selling the same thing for four, and your friend wants to know, "What about the loyalty?" And you're thinking, "I don't want to spend five dollars."
People have to look at it as a business. Fans get very wrapped around it because it's a sport. And sports are a little different but they're businesses first and that's how we have to choose sometimes. Sometimes people understand, sometimes people don't.
That, friendos, is how the Miami Heat happened. Both Bosh and LeBron — no matter how much James played the "It was a tough decision because I know how loyal I am" card — entered free agency giving no mind to the seven years they had spent with Toronto or Cleveland. If that's how they want to handle their business, that is totally 100 percent fine. They just shouldn't get mad when fans burn their jerseys, boo them or turn their backs on them when they leave. They can't expect loyalty if it means so little to them, you know?
And really, it's hard to blame Bosh or LeBron for taking less money to play in Miami with their best friends for a team that instantly became a legitimate championship contender. In a vacuum that is a very easy decision, especially if loyalty plays no part in the choice. This is a generation of guys who think in business terms when it comes to basketball, which is something we need to keep in mind when we're getting attached to these players. It might be weird, but it's for the best, I think.
Oh, also, Chris Bosh is worried about spending five dollars buying something from a friend despite being a millionaire 160 times over. I imagine "Yankee Swap" gift exchanges with Bosh are the worst, since he's always trying to trade for the iPod even though his friend specifically got him a tea pot filled with special trinkets.