The Heat as an organization had no formal comment Friday on Chris Bosh’s first public statements regarding his improved health and desire to return this season.
But his teammates and coach did speak before Friday’s game against the Bulls about the 11-time All-Star and said they love the fact he’s working hard to come back this season — even if they aren’t sure if or when that might happen. The main thing they all pretty much said, though, is they can’t sit around and worry about it.
“If he decides and the Miami Heat decides it’s the right thing for him to come back, we’ll accept him with open arms,” Dwyane Wade said.
“Obviously I know what Chris is going through,” Wade continued. “I know where he’s at in this process. As I said from Day 1, I’m just happy he feels good, and he’s not dealing with what he dealt with last year. When it comes to basketball, that’s down the line. If that’s something that happens, that’s something that happens.
“In this locker room we’ve got a job to do. I don’t want us to ever get to a point where we’re looking over our shoulder for Chris to come back. If he walks into that locker room and is ready to play on game day, we’re all going to jump up and cheer and be happy at that moment. At this time, we have to forge forward and keep focusing on what we need to do.”
Wade said he thought Bosh’s statement was great because “the fans got to finally hear from him a little bit.”
Bosh, sidelined since the All-Star Game because a recurrence of blood clots in his calf, said in a statement released Thursday by his publicist that he does not have deep vein thrombosis and that together with the Heat and his doctors he was working toward finding the best precautionary treatment options for his health.
Bosh ended his statement by saying he remains positive he will be able to return this season.
Medical experts have said once a patient goes on blood thinning medication for a clot, the course of treatment is three to six months. Patients are also told to avoid contact.
“We love Chris,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s in a great place right now. You saw the statement. He’s working out right now in Miami. When we get back we’ll be able to do some workouts with him. More than anything else, he’s in a good place — mentally. We don’t have any kind of timetable or anything like that. We’re just glad he’s healthy.”
Until now, Bosh has only done individual workouts with the coaching staff, according to Spoelstra. Until he does practice with his teammates, it’s hard to say he’s really taken a step forward. On Friday, the Heat wasn’t interested in discussing all the scenarios.
After Spoelstra answered a second question related to Bosh on Friday morning, a Heat spokesman intervened and directed the conversation to basketball.
His teammates, however, weren’t shielded from Bosh-related questions.
“It’s unbelievable,” Luol Deng said of Bosh’s resolve. “Chris has been working hard. He’s been phoning guys, been talking about what we can do better as a team. He’s all in even though he’s not playing right now, not traveling with the team. For us, it just shows us who he is. Even though he would love to be playing a part of what we’re doing right now, he’s doing all he can to make sure we all know he’s all invested.”
Center Amar’e Stoudemire said Bosh has been keeping himself “sharp from a skills standpoint” with his individual workouts. Stoudemire said Bosh has also kept himself engaged with the team behind the scenes, watching film and being around them on game days away from the public eye. Stoudemire said Bosh has been with the Heat during halftime and postgame in the locker room usually just offering words of encouragement.
“It’s a little bit tough cardio-wise when you’re not able to play in a game setting,” Stoudemire said. “But from a skills standpoint he’s keeping himself sharp.”
The Heat entered Friday’s game 8-3 since the All-Star break. Bosh’s absence has opened the door for players like Deng, center Hassan Whiteside and point guard Goran Dragic to move into bigger roles, ones they have thrived in.
Would he be able to fit right back in if he returned this season? “We’re NBA players,” Deng said. “I think you always do the best you can do in the role that you’re given. He comes back and it makes us a better team with more options and more depth.”
Friday: Heat at Raptors
When, where: 7 p.m., Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
TV, radio: SUN; WAXY (790), WAQI (710, Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 49-25.
Scouting report: The Heat ends its three-game road trip looking to get a season-series split with the Raptors, who have won the past two meetings by 14 and 20 points. Toronto, seeded second in the East, is 25-7 at home and 13-4 overall against the top five in both conferences.