Chris Bosh is an All-Star again.
And after all that he has been through after being hospitalized shortly after last year’s All-Star Game, that’s saying something.
Eleven months after blood clots on his lung ended his 2014-15 season, the Miami Heat’s 31-year-old, $118 million man earned a spot Thursday at this year’s game in Toronto as a reserve, completing one of the most remarkable comebacks in the game.
Bosh joins Dwyane Wade, who was voted in as a starter last week, as the Heat’s two representatives at the Feb. 14 game. Center Hassan Whiteside, leading the league in blocks, did not make the cut.
“Just getting back to that point, that was going to be a huge challenge for me,” Bosh said Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee as the Heat prepared to face the Bucks Friday night. “Nobody knows. Not even I knew what I was going to be capable of doing coming back.”
Bosh has not only picked up where he left off — despite not being able to play basketball for six months as he recovered — he has improved in earning his 11th consecutive trip to the All-Star Game. He leads the Heat in scoring at 19.2 points per game and is averaging 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 37.2 percent from three-point range.
Heat president Pat Riley, being honored Thursday night with the American Icon award by the Joe DiMaggio foundation, said Bosh has been invited to participate in this year’s Three-Point Contest. That’s a testament to how much the 6-11, 235-pound power forward has changed his game from being a dominant big man in Toronto to a respected wing and three-point shooter in the ever-evolving NBA game.
“I would have broken a few locker-room doors if he had not gotten named,” Riley said of Bosh, who with Wade make the Heat one of only two teams in the East with multiple All-Star Game selections (Toronto is the other).
“He’s the best big man in the Eastern Conference. I think he’s had the best season of any big man in the East. Maybe you can hit me with another name in the East. [But Bosh has been] the most efficient, versatile, dependable, durable big in the East.”
TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith said he thought Bosh earned his spot over the Bulls’ Pau Gasol and Hawks’ Al Horford. Charles Barkley said all “three were interchangeable” in his opinion.
“I thought it was between Bosh and Horford,” Smith said. “I think Gasol, the only thing that separated him from being an All-Star was the wins for his team. Chris Bosh had little bit better numbers, pretty much the same record. Being the leading scorer on that team and Dwyane Wade getting in on the fan vote, averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds those are All-Star numbers pretty much in any league at any time.”
Wade took to social media to not only celebrate Bosh’s selection, but to send a message to fans in Toronto, who have often booed Bosh after he left the Raptors for Miami to join Wade and LeBron James in 2010.
“[Toronto] it’s time to cheer for this man,” Wade tweeted. “We’ve forgiven criminals quicker.”
Bosh has said all season it would be special to make the All-Star team not only because of what he went through last year health-wise, but because the game will be played in the city that drafted him.
“To be able to go back as an all-star in a different kind of form — I’ve redefined and changed my game again and again and again — it’s been a beautiful struggle,” Bosh said Thursday before the All-Star reserves were announced.
“And to make it there would be huge for me. Just for me. I don’t care about anything else. Just for me to go back. I left single with a baby. Now I’ve got five kids — well, a fifth kid coming — and I’m married. So it’s a lot different.”
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “I think the league knows how important CB is to our team. His high level of play is so consistent that sometimes you can take that for granted. He’s been through a lot the last 12 months and I think it would be fantastic for him to get another bid there. I think it’s very deserving.”
Whiteside, who campaigned hard on social media to receive fan support in the voting and finished ninth among frontcourt players, said Thursday after practice he wouldn’t be disappointed if he wasn’t selected as a reserve.
“I won’t be disappointed because the same people who said I couldn’t play in the league are probably the same people that didn’t vote for me,” he said. “I don’t really listen to them.”
Miami Herald columnist Ethan J. Skolnick and sportswriter Rick Braun contributed to this report.
FRIDAY: HEAT AT BUCKS
When, where: 8 p.m., Friday, BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
TV, radio: Fox Sports Sun; WAXY (790), WAQI (710, Spanish).
Series: Heat lead 60-39.
Scouting report: The Bucks have won five in a row in the series, including a 91-79 triumph in Miami on Jan. 19. The Heat should have point guard Goran Dragic (strained left calf) back in the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 11 at Golden State and could also have forward Josh McRoberts (bruised right knee) back after missing 26 games. The Bucks will be without backup center John Henson (lower back).