The word hit South Florida like a punch to the heart Friday, and so now it is time to say it plain:
Chris Bosh should retire from the Miami Heat and the NBA.
He should do it for all of the right reasons, and he should do it now.
This is the third consecutive basketball season that would have been severely and negatively impacted by Bosh’s blood-clot issues. That became clear Friday with the news he had failed a pre-training camp team physical, again related to clotting, and that he would not be given the OK by the team to resume his career as he had desired. The five-day camp in Nassau, Bahamas, will begin without him on Tuesday. So will the season.
Ominously, the club released a statement that read, “The Miami Heat and Chris Bosh, in consultation with team doctors and other physicians, have been working together for many months with the mutual goal of having Chris return to the court as a soon as possible. Chris has now taken his preseason physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return.”
Bosh released a video statement late Friday evening on uninterrupted.com.
Distilling a complicated issue to layman’s terms, Bosh’s condition is best medicated with blood thinners, which are at odds with the rigors and physicality of the NBA, not to mention the grueling travel. The club has been prudent all along in siding with caution and making a priority of Bosh’s future and long-term health above his contribution as the team’s valuable, veteran power forward.
And now it seems more clear than ever: the Heat’s Big 3 era is done. First LeBron James left to return to Cleveland. Then, this summer, almost unimaginably, Dwyane Wade left, for Chicago. Now, betrayed by his body and by fate, Bosh is leaving too, of his own will or by medical decree.
I get Bosh’s desire, at 32, to not see his career end this way. He has been fighting to stay in the game he loves. Bosh not wanting to quit, even with his health in play, reminded me of a distant conversation with Dan Marino. This was after his time with the Dolphins had ended but before he actually retired. He was debating whether to entertain feelers from the Vikings and Steelers. He would soon decide against it, but just before he did he said:
“I got the whole [bleeping] rest of my life to be retired!”
That is what makes athletes hold on and hang on. It’s rarely about the money or the fame. They have been athletes their entire lives. They can’t say goodbye. It’s why Marino, braces on his knees, limping like an old man, tried to convince himself he could still play. I think it is why Tim Tebow is attempting a comeback in baseball.
Bosh, a cerebral sort, must know intellectually he has every reason to retire.
His legacy is secure. He has had a full career of 13 NBA seasons, the past six in Miami. He is an 11-time All-Star, a two-time NBA champion, a likely future Hall of Famer.
His financial future is secure. Whether he retires or continues to hold his career in awkward abeyance, the Heat still owes him almost $76 million. (How would you or I like that as a retirement package?)
At this point the Heat is owed a clean break from the cloud of uncertainty that has hovered over Bosh and his Miami future the past two seasons and into this one. It is time for the club to move on and embrace its youth-oriented new era led by Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson.
Of course, the real reason Bosh should retire isn’t about what team president Pat Riley or coach Erik Spoelstra think or even about what the doctors say.
He should retire for himself and mostly for his young family, for his wife Adrienne and their five small children. Anyone who follows Bosh on social media knows he has many interests beyond basketball, including world travel. So go for it all, Chris. Enjoy your family full time, without the constraints and demands of the NBA.
Bosh has nothing left to prove in his career, just a long life yet to live and enjoy.
He should retire now, if only because his love for his family is the one thing bigger than his love of basketball.