Even after blood-clotting issues prematurely ended his 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns, even after the NBA’s independent medical review confirmed the Miami Heat’s diagnosis that it was unsafe for him to continue playing, even after he was waived in coordination with the announcement that the Heat would retire his number, Chris Bosh has always maintained the belief that he can return to the court.
The 11-time All-Star took that a step further on ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday morning, informing the panel that he continues to prepare for a comeback and, shockingly, is open to an NBA return this year.
“I’ve been in the gym,” he said. “I can still play basketball. No. I’m not done yet. Yeah, I’m trying to come back. Man, I see all these guys shooting 3’s and not playing defense, and, man, I’m saying I’ve got to get some of it.”
Jokes aside, there are serious concerns about Bosh returning to the NBA, mostly from anyone who remembers when Reggie Lewis sought enough medical opinions to find a doctor who would clear him to play. Bosh said he understands those concerns. “I do get it,” he said. “I do get those things.”
But he also suggested his latest diagnosis isn’t so grave. “It was the first situation that was very dire and very serious, and I’m lucky to be here,” Bosh said, presumably of the blood-clotting in his lungs in February 2015. “But the second situation,” he added, “they just said, ‘Well, you can’t play tomorrow,'” suggesting he’s been in a holding pattern since a second blood-clotting scare in February 2016.
“Medicine is like law. That’ I’ve come to find out,” Bosh told “First Take” on Thursday. “It’s very gray area. Some people say yes. Some people say no. Usually it’s about what the majority agrees to, and usually sometimes it’ll take somebody to kind of have some revolutionary plan or something like that. I’m not going to be in a position where I’m risking my life, so if I ever get back on the court like that and people are worried, it’s not going to be a life-risking situation.”
That’s where this gets hazy. Bosh failed a physical at the start of the 2016-17 season, and the Heat, unable to release medical information without the player’s blessing, said only that the team “remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return.”
The two sides remained at odds over his future. The NBA ultimately stepped in, conducting a medical review of Bosh’s status that confirmed the Heat’s fears, which allowed Miami to clear the two years and $52 million remaining on his contract from their salary cap and waive the 33-year-old in July.
All the while, Bosh has maintained that an NBA comeback isn’t out of the realm of possibility. On Thursday, he made the leap to not only saying he was ready for a return, but ready for one now, even referencing the March 1 deadline for teams to acquire players and keep them eligible for the playoffs.
“Next season, yeah,” Bosh said of his comeback plan. “The roster spots haven’t been filled this season yet, so it’s always a possibility.”
Asked which teams he might be open to joining, Bosh specifically named the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors — his “top three” teams. Pressed on which team he would join if the Raptors or Cleveland Cavaliers came calling, Bosh added, “Whoever makes me the best deal.”
Given the catastrophic concerns around Bosh’s health, it’s unclear if any team will make that offer.
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