Big Threes are overrated—you know, after you've spent four years being a part of one.
And if your name is Chris Bosh.
Instead of following LeBron James' free-agency lead and forming another NBA superpower with the Houston Rockets, Bosh elected to stay with the Miami Heat over the offseason. Months after the fact, the All-Star big man revealed more about the logic behind his decision to CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
"I could see where people would think that's an attractive site," he said. "They were trying to win right away. And I was really happy to be touted that I possibly could've been out there. But you know, that doesn't guarantee anything, and I know that. All that guarantees is a bunch of pressure."
Bosh enjoyed four seasons of title contention in Miami alongside Dwyane Wade and James. But he and his partners in crime also faced unparalleled pressure. Every loss was scrutinized and blown out of proportion. That the Heat caged two championships after four straight Finals appearances was somehow depicted as a failure within certain circles.
More of the same awaited Bosh in Houston, where he would have joined James Harden, Dwight Howard and presumably Chandler Parsons, giving the Rockets a Big Four. The pressure there arguably would have been worse.
Jumping to yet another team would mean Bosh was chasing titles. Abandoning Miami would mean he had to win those titles, lest he be remembered as a moderately successful championship hanger-on.
Staying with the Heat was the safe play in that sense. It safeguarded him against Big Three dissection while adding a pinch of loyalty to his NBA resume.
There were other factors, of course. More than $118 million was thrown his way, and the new-look Heat promised a featured role the superstar-stuffed Rockets could not.
Some might see that as a flagrant cop out. Others might interpret it as Bosh prioritizing money over winning. And perhaps it is all those things. But, more than anything else, Berger says this is Bosh absolving himself, however slightly, of Big Three wear and tear:
Before you jump on Bosh for taking the easy way out, consider what the past four years were like for him. He was never the most important corner of the James-Wade-Bosh triangle, except when he missed an open jumper or flubbed a defensive assignment. He had to sacrifice and unlearn key parts of his game to adapt to the more dominant talents and personalities around him. For four years, every day in the life of the Miami Heat was like being on tour with the No. 1 artist in the land.
The perpetual chase, the championship-or-bust environment, the celebrity status afforded basketball's three-headed monster -- all of it wore on James, who spoke often last season of the mental fatigue of pursuing a fourth straight trip to the Finals. Everyone was so busy chronicling James' every word that they forgot to ask Bosh what he thought.
It wore on him, too.
Remaining with the Heat was Bosh's escape—his deserved respite from four years of status-wobbling. This is not to be confused with a vacation. There is still work to be done in Miami.
The Heat are battling through injuries and a depthless rotation, trying to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Their 15th-ranked defense is vulnerable to penetration, their 11th-ranked offense is desperately dependent on Bosh and Wade.
Bosh himself is still coming to terms with his new role. His stats are up across the board—most notably his assist and usage rates—and he's now a defensive-afterthought-turned-focal-point.
Adjusting to life as a grinder has been, and shall remain, a process. For four years, even in the most uncertain times, Bosh had the luxury of knowing the Heat would be right there in the end. No such guarantees can be made now.
"But it's what I asked for, I guess," Bosh said of the situation in Miami, per Sports on Earth's Howard Megdal. "So I have to be stern with myself, and patient at the same time. To just know it's a process, and to live with that process."
Tougher parts of this process await. Wade's status moving forward is unknown, and upcoming opponents include the Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets and Golden State Warriors. Each contest is another measuring stick, and a chance for Miami to show where it stands.
Succeed or fail, Bosh will be at the forefront of everything—the alpha dog on a Heat team that gave him what he asked for by being less than super.