Chris Bosh, one of the perennial “nice guys” of the NBA and the face of the Toronto Raptors, took a hit earlier this week when this story hit the airwaves. Basically, the alleged story goes like this. His ex-lover became pregnant with his son. Bosh assured her that he would be there for her, both emotionally and financially. In an apparent effort to settle down as a family, Bosh purchased for them a $1.6 million home in Frisco, Texas. Once her labour cycle hit seven months, Bosh, along with his financial support flew the coop. She alleges that Bosh essentially had her evicted from their newly purchased home, cut off the water and electricity, and as a result, was forced to move into her mother’s house in Washington.
Now, this is her story. One of the most fundamental properties of modern legal systems is that the truth cannot be considered so until it is proven in a court of law. Anybody, anywhere has the legal right to make accusations. I assume that Bosh’s side will come out with a rather different sequence of events in the very near future.
The question is (even with the validity of the claims of this lawsuit still up in the air): what effect will this whole debacle have on Bosh’s long-term reputation as well as his long-term future with the Raptors? Many observers (including myself) have had serious doubts about whether Bosh would want to resign with Toronto once his contract expires at the end of next season. Now, he may or he may not, but it is my opinion that this story will not figure into that decision.
Let’s face it. NBA players are no saints. Now I want it to be clear that in no way am I defending his actions but a little exercise in comparison may put this issue in perspective. NBA players are constantly embroiled in legal trials involving much more despicable acts which have ranged from rape to assault to weapons possession to domestic abuse. And these have often involved top tier players, whose image is as important to the league as anything else. My point is that cases like this will often cause an uproar in the earlygoings but fans, sponsors, and league officials tend to be extremely forgiving.
Two examples (of which there are many more):
Jason Kidd – In 2001, he pleaded guilty to domestic abuse against his then-wife. Subsequently, he was forced to attend anger management classes.
Kobe Bryant – In the most high profile case involving an athlete since OJ, Kobe was charged with the rape of a 19 year old hotel employee. He later admitted to adulterous sex but denied the rape charge. The case was dropped after his victim refused to testify in court.
Now, obviously what Bosh did was wrong, disrepectful, and despicable. But does it really compare to rape and domestic abuse? The two examples above were widely forgiven by their teams, sponsors, and fans. They are but distant memories. Given that trend, I expect this to be a non-issue within a couple of months. His reputation has been tarnished no doubt, but it is far from being beyond repair. Players in this league have been widely forgiven for offences far more serious. Whether this is right or wrong is a completely seperate debate.