Report: Chris Bosh, Heat 'at a crossroads' over his health, return

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  • Chris Bosh
    Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh remains on the bench, but that's not where he wants to be. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Chris Bosh remains on the bench, but that's not where he wants to be. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Chris Bosh hasn't suited up for the Miami Heat since early February, missing the last 37 games after pulling out of the All-Star Game amid concerns related to another round of the frightening blood-clotting problems that prematurely ended his 2014-15 season. But while the Heat continue to list him as out indefinitely, the 32-year-old All-Star hasn't given up hope of returning at some point during Miami's playoff run ... and it sounds like the difference of opinion between the two parties about a prospective return to the court might be getting messy.

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Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported in February that Bosh was facing "increasing pressure from physicians and the [Heat] organization to sit out the rest of the season," due to the dangers of attempting to resume such strenuous physical activity after a second clotting scare. Weeks later, though, Bosh announced he was clot-free, that his "situation this year has never been life-threatening," and that he remained "positive that [he] will be able to return this season."

Ethan Skolnick and Barry Johnson of the Miami Herald reported two weeks ago that Bosh and the Heat "have not all been aligned in terms of the treatment of his condition," with the Heat making it known that even if an outside doctor were to clear Bosh, "it doesn’t mean the team will be comfortable letting him play," whether or not he signed a medical waiver that could potentially limit the team's liability in the event of a recurrence of the clotting issue following his return. They followed up with a report that Bosh had "found one doctor who appeared willing to give clearance for him to play," and that "the Heat (and other doctors) disagreed with that assessment," keeping Bosh on the sidelines.

That's not where Bosh wants to be. He's continued to travel with the team, continued to work out, posting Snapchat videos about how much he misses the game and how he's "still got it":

And his wife, Adrienne Bosh, broke out an eyebrow-raising hashtag in response to a tweet by Skolnick about how Miami could have used her husband in its first-round matchup with the Charlotte Hornets:

“He didn’t talk about [how tough it is sitting out], but you can see it," Heat point guard Goran Dragic said last week, according to Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post. "He’s emotional. We worked hard for this the whole season. Everybody understand he wants to be there, and we want him to be there. It’s tough.”

It might soon get tougher. After blowing the Hornets out in Game 7 to advance to a second-round matchup with the Toronto Raptors, for whom Bosh starred for seven seasons before joining the Heat in free agency in the summer of 2010, longtime Miami columnist and ESPN personality Dan Le Batard said Tuesday on his nationally syndicated radio show that the situation has progressed to the point where the Boshes might be involving the National Basketball Players Association — the union that represents NBA players, led by executive director Michele Roberts — in what he described as a "super unusual situation."

Le Batard's discussion of the issue starts at around the eight-minute mark here; below, an edited transcript of some of his remarks:

I can't think of a lot of instances where a sports organization is acting in what appear to be the best interests of the player over their own interests, and against the will of the player. From the people I'm talking to, Chris Bosh wants back on the court. And now. Wants to get back to the Miami Heat. And the Miami Heat, on medical advice, are saying absolutely not. No.

They're paying him. They need him. They badly want to get to an Eastern Conference finals against LeBron, and they are telling him, "No. You cannot work." And I was trying to think of examples of this, where a sports organization chooses the best interest of the player over the organization and the player is acting in a way that doesn't — and, by the way, a player who's super rational, super diverse, super smart, has a lot of interests; he's not a crazy person, he's got five kids — and he's appearing to take a stance here that is super dangerous. Because if you talk to medical experts, they will tell you a recurrence of blood clots can be catastrophic.

And so, the Miami Heat and Chris Bosh are at a crossroads. There is a conflict here that promises to get a little bit messier. It's been private until now, but it leaked out in social media last week, and now I'm hearing the union — that the Boshes want so badly on the court that they're trying to get the union involved. [...] They have found a doctor that might be ready to clear him.

[...] I don't know what you do, because there is a — you've got to protect these guys from themselves. And the idea — this is the conflict as I see it: Bosh is not a crazy person, but he's hard-wired to be a competition-a-holic. He's got five kids. Being a father's the most important thing to him in his life. But for some reason, he thinks he's good to go, and I think it's because he's not showing the symptoms he showed the first time, that he doesn't feel physically bad, even as doctors, experts, are telling him, "Hey, a recurrence of blood clots, that one can be catastrophic." You could have a Hank Gathers situation. You could have a "die on the basketball court" situation, that liability — that no waiver is protecting the league from, and no waiver is protecting the Miami Heat from. Not when the onslaught comes.

You know, if that catastrophe happens, and all of a sudden, what it's going to be is. If we're Captain Hindsight on the second guess on a coach at the end of a game, you know we're going to be there with, "How could you let him play?" And the answer's going to be, "Well, he signed a waiver! He wanted to play!" And it's still going to be, "How could you let him play? How could you possibly let him play, when so many doctors are saying that you can't play?" [...]

He wants to get out there, and his wife wants him out there, and they're wearing "Bring Bosh Back" shirts at the games, and they're putting private pressure on the Heat, and putting public pressure on the Heat, and he's flying with the team. He's around all the time. And I just don't know how messy this is going to get, because he is a good soldier, but he seems to be — as the stakes get ratcheted up, as you find yourself with the possibility of Chris Bosh being able to play LeBron James with a Finals appearance on the line — he feels the need, more and more, because of the pipeline that he came up through to be there for his teammates in a time of need.

I don’t know exactly what to believe here, OK, but I do trust the organization and I trust the people in the organization who tell me things because I’ve never been lied to by them about much of anything. They’re telling me that they’re protecting him from him, but he doesn’t feel any symptoms. This doesn’t feel like the last time. All the doctors the Heat are talking to are saying, and they’re the foremost authorities on this stuff, "Hey, a second recurrence of a blood clot situation could be catastrophic, where you’ve got a death on the court."

A Heat spokesman declined comment to the Palm Beach Post, and Bosh’s agent, Henry Thomas, did not respond to the Post's request for comment. A spokesperson for the National Basketball Players Association told Yahoo Sports: "Our top priority is Chris' health and well-being. We have spoken with Chris and his agent, and have reached out to the Miami Heat. We are hopeful that all parties involved can meet as soon as possible to resolve the situation."

On one hand, you can certainly understand the Heat's reluctance to clear Bosh for a return if their medical staff has even the smallest scintilla of a concern that bringing him back could cause a potentially career- or life-threatening recurrence of clotting. On the other, the idea of the Heat continuing to hold Bosh against his will and despite the possibility that there are qualified medical professionals who would clear him constitutes not only an odd inversion of the standard trope in such situations — Unscrupulous Team X fudging test results or looking past undotted i's and uncrossed t's to get Valuable Player Y back on the court, even if it puts said player in greater jeopardy — but also a possible opening salvo in what could be a forthcoming battle over players' personal medical information, how it relates to internal/contractual disputes, and the determination of how and why players are restricted from certain activities. If the players' union isn't yet involved in this particular matter, it seems likely that it will be in other such matters in the future.

Whatever the future holds, in the here and now, Bosh will continue to remain with the team and in the public eye ...

... which adds another layer of intrigue to what already promised to be a pretty fascinating second-round matchup between Bosh's former and current teams.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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