It’s been one year, two months and nine days since the last time Chris Bosh suited up for an NBA game, but the 13-time All-Star still hasn’t given up on the possibility of returning to the court.
In a new interview on Ora.tv’s “Larry King Now,” host Larry King asks Bosh if he thinks he’ll ever be back on the NBA court, as he continues his ongoing battle with the blood-clotting problems that forced him out of action after the All-Star break of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, scuttled multiple hoped-for returns to the Miami Heat, and kept him on the sideline for the entire 2016-17 season. The 33-year-old forward replied, “Yeah, I think so.”
“It’s been a very interesting time for me, only because I’m used to playing basketball,” Bosh said. “I’m used to practicing. I’m used to the schedule. That’s kind of what I was born to do. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. And over the last year, I have not kind of been able to fall back on that, so it’s forced me to grow in a lot of different ways.
“But at heart, I’m still an athlete. And that is not how I want it to end.”
You can certainly understand a competitor as fierce as Bosh feeling frustrated by having his career curtailed prematurely by forces beyond his control. Throughout his forced separation from the court, the two-time NBA champion has maintained his intention to come back, continuing to search for treatment options and second opinions that would allow him to be cleared to play professional basketball once again. The Heat, however, have repeatedly resisted those efforts, reportedly (and understandably) unwilling to take the risk that a recurrence of clotting issues could have catastrophic consequences for Bosh’s health.
Despite Bosh’s confidence that he’d be ready to resume full activity by the start of Miami’s 2016-17 training camp, though, multiple reports indicated that the Heat weren’t yet comfortable clearing Bosh to play. In September, Bosh failed his Heat physical, casting his NBA future in doubt.
Bosh, for his part, continued to insist that he’d be “all right”, and that the Heat medical staff’s decision not to clear him for NBA activity didn’t constitute the end of the line for his NBA career. It did appear to bring his tenure in Miami to a close, though, as Heat team president Pat Riley said before the start of the season that Bosh’s time in a Heat uniform was “probably over” — even though Bosh remains under contract, and set to receive $52.1 million over the next two campaigns.
Unless, that is, Miami can expunge Bosh’s salary from its ledger.
The Heat can apply to excise the final two years of Bosh’s pact from their balance sheet, owing to a provision in the 2017 collective bargaining agreement that governs how long-term injuries are managed in the computation of team salary, as detailed by Bobby Marks of The Vertical back in September. If they’re able to purge Bosh’s deal — while still paying him the full balance of his wholly guaranteed contract — the Heat could have as much as $39.5 million in cap space this summer with which to add talent to a team that went from one of the NBA’s worst through the first two months of the season to one of its best in the second half before finishing just one win shy of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat have not yet applied for such ap relief from the league, but are reportedly expected to do so before the start of free agency in July. While Bosh believes he’ll one day get cleared to return to the game, he seemed to be at peace with the unlikelihood that he will do so in Miami, and with Riley and the Heat pursuing this course of action.
“I understand what they have to do as a team,” he told King. “It is a business. I know that we as athletes and owners and people involved with the NBA never want to say that it’s a business, and things like that. It is a business, and hurt does come in with that. But as president of the Miami Heat, I understand what he has to do.”
While he waits for the “very, very complicated” process to unfold, Bosh stayed away from attending Heat games or traveling with the team this season.
“If I can’t play, there’s no reason to go,” he told King. “[…] To watch the game without me in it, there’s just no point in doing that.”
And while he continues to hold out hope for a triumphant comeback, Bosh has also taken advantage of his time away from the hardwood, focusing more on his family and even trying his hand at broadcasting.
“I do [miss playing], but a part of me doesn’t,” Bosh told King. “I’ve come to enjoy different aspects of life. There’s a lot of life out there. Only because, as basketball players, we do that and that’s really it. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my kids. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my wife, and just kind of relaxing and working on my mind, my soul.
“I don’t know [what I want to do when it’s all officially over]. And that’s exciting,” he said. “It’s always kind of this pressure as an athlete — you know, ‘What are you going to do? You should do this, or you should do that.’ I think it’s OK to say I don’t know what I want to do. I have a lot of things on my mind.”
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