A couple of days ago, Chris Bosh told Fox Sports that he feels good about his chances of making the Hall of Fame:
"Hell, yeah, of course. I've been a Hall of Famer like four years ago," the Miami Heat center told FOX Sports Florida after Friday's 110-88 win over Detroit. "And I say that very serious, though. I've talked about it before with my friends."
Is this, like Joe Flacco calling himself "top five" or Stephon Marbury calling himself "the best point guard to play basketball," just another overconfident athlete prematurely categorizing himself among the greats? Chris Bosh is notably weird and generally understood to be the Catwoman to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's Batman and Robin, so his estimation of his own legacy would seem to reveal a lack of self-awareness...were he not basically correct.
Basketball Reference has a couple of handy metrics that we can use to figure out whether Bosh is talking out of his ass. Similarity score confines itself to players at comparable positions and evaluates similarity based on years played, career arc, best years vs. worst, and win shares—in short, the formula finds careers that have a similar "quality and shape." Who's Bosh's best match? Channing Frye? Rik Smits? James Worthy. The numbers Bosh is putting up, and the way he's accruing them, correspond to one of the game's great third wheels, exactly what he should aspire to.
The second useful metric here, and perhaps the only one Bosh needs to back himself up, is Hall of Fame probability. Basketball Reference used (something totally over my head called) a logistic regression model to get a set of criteria by which Hall of Fame voters have historically chosen players. There are, according to B-R, seven factors:
last season indicator 3.1498
NBA points per game 0.3433
NBA rebounds per game 0.4193
NBA assists per game 0.3327
NBA All-Star game selections 0.5626
NBA championships won 0.9151
Chris Bosh's Hall of Fame probability is currently 89%—on the active list, that puts him ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol and even Steve Nash, who is an actual lock.
Height is negatively correlated, so that isn't helping the 6-10 Bosh. Having finished one's career prior to 1960 (last season indicator) is up there, but that doesn't help Bosh either. His one title helps his case and his career line of 19.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg and 2.1 apg is fairly strong, but it's All-Star games that are tilting the odds in Bosh's favor. 2013's ASG will be his eighth, and his eighth straight. He's wrong that he was likely to make the Hall of Fame four years ago, but every All-Star game appearance makes him much more likely to get elected to the Hall of Fame. Wouldn't 10 straight make him a virtual lock? Well, eight straight and a championship gives him an 89% chance.
One reason Bosh's chances seem disproportionate to his reputation: Voters like All-Star selections, and Bosh has accrued them by being one of a very low number of effective big men in the Eastern Conference. 2004's Eastern Conference All-Star team boasted Jamaal Magloire at center. 2005's had Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace. Bosh was a savior in his first year there. That speaks to the dearth of quality big men, but also to the difficulty inherent in that job description. Bosh has been doing something very hard, very well, for a long time. Which, weird as it may be, means that we may as well get used to the sound of "Hall of Fame big man Chris Bosh." He's earned a better appellation than "Bosh Spice."