In the summer of 2014, the year LeBron James went home, an euphoric Chris Bosh signed a max deal with the Miami Heat for $120 million dollars. That singular moment for Bosh seems like a moment frozen in time, put in a capsule and tossed out to sea. Bosh has played 0 regular season games in two years because life isn’t always fair. His body blood has been doing some not nice body blood things, causing clots that have the potential of moving through the superhighway of Bosh’s tissued flesh, to the heart and brain, if the worst thing happens. Medicine thins the blood, dissolves the clots. Sometimes, usually but not always, you are cured forever. Sometimes, usually but not always, your athletic career is over.
Bosh’s career is over. To get back in the league he has to have a board of doctors who are independent of a NBA team clear him. Then the team who signs him, their doctor has to clear him. And if he passes that hurdle, he has to deal with the loss of two years. The NBA isn’t one of those careers where you just step back in. In summary, Bosh is Sisyphus climbing up that mountain with that damned rock trying to crush him.
The backstory of Chris Bosh’s illness is the conflict it continues to create. He looks around the league at three point shot making which he was good at and post play which has disappeared and thinks to himself he can play.
Chris Bosh is 33 years old. He wants to play. He feels good. A while back, the Miami Heat fought to keep Bosh safe and alive. His fans despaired because he was not on the court. The Bosh extended family network suffered missed games and doctors not clearing him. It’s hard to see how any of that has changed.
There is an argument that Rachel Nichols made on ESPN. If Bosh knows the risks, and he would never put his family in a bind- Bosh has 5 kids- why not let him make the final decision. While that seems a very logical response, there is the worst case scenario the league’s lawyers have to anticipate. If Bosh would play and die of a brain hemorrhage, or play and die because he bled to death, the NBA and the team he plays for would be negligent and complicit in his death, basically looking the other way. No team is going to take that risk when they don’t need to, particularly now that all teams are valued at a billion dollars. A wrongful death lawsuit could cripple a team. It is too financially risky, even for a team like Houston that likes to stockpile players. Frankly, they don’t need Chris Bosh. None of the contenders do, even as a Toronto homecoming would be a nice story.
It often feels as if Bosh was either the luckiest man in the NBA or the unluckiest. Here he was, the third spoke in the Big Three wheel of Lebron and Wade, never really appreciated by outsiders who were always throwing shade, until Bosh saved the Heat from elimination with his ability to react under pressure. One rebound and a Ray Allen three kept the Heat alive for a game 7 where they beat the Spurs and Bosh has the ring to show for it. As good as it was to be in South Beach and to be a champion, the reality was that Bosh had to hear the chatter, specifically, he wouldn’t have any of his rings if it wasn’t for LeBron James.
That is why the max deal was so important. LeBron was gone. Now it was Bosh’s turn. Finally. He could revert back to his Toronto days when he was a 20-10 player.
But life is funny and strange. When you think you have everything you want, a curve ball hits you in the face. In 2015, the blood clots were life threatening but were caught at the last minute. The following year, in the calf, they were not life threatening but still dangerous. Internists will tell you, one clot is a freak of nature. Two clots are your body telling you something. Three clots are a pattern. Often, blood thinning medicine is prescribed for the rest of your life.
It’s not really accurate to say Bosh’s future is up in the air. Pragmatists know his career is over. Optimists want to see it as one more hurdle in a series of hurdles post-LeBron James. But the narrative that seems closer to the truth than fiction is Chris Bosh will never grace a NBA court again, not as a player.
It’s not complicated. NBA doctors will not clear him. There is no NBA team, despite Bosh’s talent, that would willingly take on a player with such serious medical complications.
So where does that leave Bosh now?
The financial stakes are just too high, even if Bosh signs a waiver releasing the NBA from responsibility. We are back to the square root. After two years, who is Chris Bosh?
At the very least, he is anticipating the career that was yanked away from him to be restored. It’s a longshot, as longshot go. He needs to try to reconcile this because the rest of his life is waiting. Eventually, Chris Bosh will have to accept that dreams die and turn the page.
photo via llananba