The Chris Bosh Truth: When Less Was More

Another blood clot for Chris Bosh, now publicly admitted to by the Miami Heat, means once again Bosh lost a season. In the aggregate, the lost season was profound. The Heat were in a game 7 and needed everything Chris Bosh means. His absence was a crushing blow, even as the Heat had played so long without him. But a game 7 needs everyone on deck to prevent drowning. Bosh missing was a two-fold sacrifice. Bosh lost and the Heat lost.  The consequences were devastating.

Six years ago- yes, it has been that long- when Bosh arrived in Miami, he was generally regarded as the third wheel drifting in on the coattails of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade even though Bosh had been a star in Toronto, a 20 and 10 player, and he was an Olympian and he was, in his own right, able to carry a team by his ability to impact the game. However, the arc light of LeBron James created only Chris Bosh shadows and memes and jokes. He was suddenly in another man’s gravitational field after years of toiling without benefits in the bitter winter of Toronto, an invisible man. Bosh adapted to the slights, to the collective eye-rolls whenever his name was mentioned in the same breath as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

The fact is, a team cannot thrive with three great players functioning at the peak of their talent. So Bosh willingly accepted the role as not LeBron and not Wade. It was a practical denouement for the computer driven, nerdish Bosh who has a techie self-identity. Someone had to acquiesce to the moment. Why not Bosh?

The downside was that for four years he was repeatedly mocked and the punchline of jokes because he willingly sacrificed for the good of the team, organization and himself. Bosh got two rings out of it so he had the last laugh.

In retrospect of this lost season for Bosh, nothing is funny now. It was one more Bosh sacrifice and the debate still rages if he could have played. Clearly, caution on the Heat side of things had nothing to do with basketball, and organizationally, they can be proud of that, of how their empathy for the human Chris Bosh outweighed their need for the professional Chris Bosh. They would have been better off team-wise crossing their fingers and watching him play. They would have gained, that is for sure. And they may have lost. Trouble has a way of sneaking up on you when you are greedy.

When Bosh was drafted in 2003, a big deal was made out of Darko Milicic going to the Pistons instead of Carmelo Anthony who had just won a NCAA title. LeBron James was the obvious number one pick. Dwyane Wade had a great NCAA tournament and turned a lot of heads, pushing him way up the draft board. And then there was Chris Bosh, the Georgia Tech computer science freshman who could score, post up, rebound and run the floor. Bosh had dreams of being an engineer and was gifted in mathematics.

Several years ago, for Wired Magazine, he wrote an editorial, Here’s Why You Should Learn to Code. It’s a very geeky article about computer code and the functional importance of it.

He wrote, “Learning to code is simply about understanding how the world functions.”

An avid tech junkie raised on a steady diet of it, Bosh has never been shy or self-conscious about demonstrating his love of everything computers. And everything basketball as well, which is why he was itching to play in the postseason. The Twitter talk from him and his wife basically begging the Heat to rethink their decision, putting social media pressure on the Heat as a strategy, failed miserably.

With other organizations it might have worked.  But Pat Riley has strong boundaries that when erected, good luck trying to cross. He took all the social media chatter and shut it down with a joint statement from the Heat and Bosh. The point of it was, Bosh will be back next year. It was something the Heat re-iterated after the season ended in a game 7 at Toronto. They finally confessed Bosh’s blood clots had returned. And that he’d be fine next season.

Fine? The confidence in Bosh’s health is shaky. Athletes with repetitive blood clots have had to retire. The problem lies in the ability of the body’s blood to give in to gravity and sit still. When that happens often enough the blood clots. In motion again, the clots travel pathways to the heart, lungs and brain. Their mass, if allowed to travel to a major organ without detection, is a tragic and instant death.

Last season, Bosh had a life threatening situation of clots in his lung. This year the clots were not life threatening, they were in his calf. Medicine thins the clots but while in treatment physical activity is forbidden. Repetitive clots are symptomatic of the body functioning in an abnormal way. It is a warning.

It was the basketball part that was compromised in the winter of 2016. Bosh felt great and wanted to play. Take all the emotion out the argument. It just wasn’t logical. You plan for your future while you live for right now. Bosh is not the 19 year old engineer-wannabe. He has a family. He has kids who he needs to see grow up.

When Bosh was in Toronto, he was the anti-Vince Carter. Vince always had this insecurity fugue hanging over him, like he needed public adoration, he needed the pats on the back. Bosh at 19 was mature and his Toronto years were critical to his NBA development. Without Toronto and its ensuing learning curve, he never would have been in the right place at the right time in Game 6 which led to a rebound. A pass. A Ray Allen shot. A lets go to Game 7. Nothing about that moment was LeBron James. It was all Chris Bosh, the one who sacrificed.

And so here he is with one more sacrifice in the books. He’s no longer in the LeBron James shadow and isn’t required to give less because of it. He was required to give less (this season) because his life depended on it. It was a sacrifice that will pay huge dividends for his future self.


photo via llananba