Heat forward Chris Bosh, eight months removed from his second blood clot episode in a year, announced Wednesday that he's ready to return to game action.
“I’m ready to play,” he said in a podcast for Uninterrupted. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time. We released a statement back in May saying as soon as I’m ready to play as soon as possible, we’ll play. And I’m ready. I’ve done all my work. I’ve done what I need to do working with the doctors.”
Bosh, who has been working out several times a week in Los Angeles, said: “I am in incredible shape, at least decent enough. I look good when I take my shirt off. Especially with [Heat owner] Micky Arison saying, ‘see you at camp.’ I think it’s moving forward. I have no reason to believe that it’s not. And we’ll finish this.”
According to a union source, the expectation is that the Heat will clear Bosh to play, although the timetable isn't determined, and it's unclear whether he would be available for every game.
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Bosh, 32, asked the Heat to allow him to play late last season while using a new blood thinner that would be out of his system in eight hours or so. The Heat rejected that proposal at the time, but is now considerably more open to allowing that, the source said.
Bosh would not be the first professional athlete to play while on blood thinners. NHL player Tomas Fleischmann, who spent four seasons with the Panthers, takes anticoagulant injections after games that are out of his system by the next game.
Bosh referenced Fleischmann in Wednesday’s podcast, saying he and his wife Adrienne reached out to Fleischmann who helped them reach the doctor who has provided Bosh and other athletes a ‘proven’ medical regiment that Bosh believes will get gim back on the court.
“That's the best part about this -- I'm not the first athlete to do this regiment,” Bosh said. “[Fleischmann had the] same problem I actually had the second time [with blood clots]. This is five, six years [ago]. He's been playing for five years now.
“And this particular doctor has had the same regiment with other athletes. So this is nothing that is new. It's not ground breaking. We're not reinventing the wheel here. It's pretty standard. It’s been proven. Guys have played on it. Like I said, for anybody to have worries, there are guys playing basketball and hockey and football [with this regiment].”
Though Bosh has said he doesn't have the gene that makes him predisposed to clotting, some doctors believe he should stay on blood-thinners because he had two episodes in a year — one in February 2015 (which traveled from his leg to his lung) and another this past February, in his calf. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to either the Heat clearing him to return or the NBA players association getting involved.
Asked about the hurdles in front of him, Bosh replied: “It’s a bunch of different things. One thing I will say is this has been a struggle. This has not been easy. This has been probably the toughest summer I’ve ever had in my life. Like I said, we did everything. I just will put it like that. We did our research. We read papers, talked to doctors over and over, had conference calls, and meetings, and schedules, and checkups.”
Bosh said it’s his “contractual and professional obligation to be there” when the Heat open training camp Sept. 27 at The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas.
Does the Heat expect him there ready to play?
“I would think so,” Bosh said. “I don't see why they wouldn’t. But I mean I’ve made it clear from the jump I’m ready to play. I want to play. That was the most important thing. Because like I said before, we found a specialist in order to play. These hockey players have already been cleared by teams -- not the NHL, teams -- to play. This is a matter of fact. You can research it.
“So, I mean, I have full confidence that yeah I’ll be there [at camp]. Will I be cleared? I don't know. But that’s out of my hands. But I will play basketball in the NBA. I'm confident.”
The Heat declined comment Wednesday. The only time anyone from the organization has publicly thrown support for a Bosh return was back on Aug. 31 when hours after Bosh posted video on social media of himself working through shooting and dribbling drills, Arison posted a supportive tweet saying, “Looking good CB @chrisbosh look forward to seeing in camp.”
In his second bout with blood clots, Bosh said he was the one who pointed out to doctors that he had soreness in his calf. He did so about two days before he was set to participate in the three-point contest at the All-Star Game in Toronto.
Bosh said he was surprised to learn he had deep vein thrombosis and even more surprised he would be forced to sit out a minimum of six months to recover from it because unlike his first battle with blood clots he wasn’t hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism.
Bosh said he pushed hard to return to the team during the Heat’s playoff run and envisioned a showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals in what he thought would be his “return to glory.” Playing the Raptors in the playoffs, he said, was a dream come true. But it turned out to be a nightmare because the Heat wouldn’t clear him to return.
“I'm watching my own dream in front of my eyes and that’s all it is because being in that position,” Bosh said. “I wanted to help my guys. I wanted to win. But I just wanted it to be over. Once I wasn’t playing anymore I said ‘What am I even doing here?’
“It’s like I said, it’s a business. You've got insurance. You've got exceptions and salary caps and all these other things. Because like I said, if you really wanted to do something you make it happen.”
Bosh said he’s smarter about his situation now and is glad he has his own doctors and medical specialists on his side. He says it’s something more athletes need to do.
“Think about it like this, if one doctor is a doctor for 15 guys -- who is paying this guy?” Bosh said. “I'm paying him to a certain extent. But I don't get a bill. It might come from fees and through an association or the team or diffent kinds of ways. I mean, you get the service you pay for, right? If you are paying a doctor through your insurance, through your pocket, whatever the case may be -- that changes their interest. Because their interest is in the individual. I mean, it’s the team paying him [otherwise].”
The last time Bosh came back from a bout with blood clots he was still playing at an All-Star level, leading the team in scoring (19.1 points per game) and three-point shooting percentage (36.5%). The Heat’s roster this season is vastly different than it was the last time he played on Feb. 9. Dwyane Wade, the franchise's greatest player and a 12-time All-Star, left to the Chicago Bulls in free agency and veteran starters Luol Deng (Los Angeles Lakers) and Joe Johnson (Utah Jazz) also found new homes.
Bosh has three seasons and $76 million left on a five-year deal he signed in 2014 to stay in Miami. If he is unable to resume his career for medical reasons, he would be paid the remainder of his contract but it would not count against the Heat's salary cap after Feb. 9.
Until now Bosh had avoided discussing his health and potential return to the basketball court. In a July interview with Bill Simmons on HBO's Any Given Wednesday he made his health off limits and a recent, extensive interview on the National Basketball Players Association's website did not discuss it either.
Bosh intends to share more in the coming weeks with Uninterrupted. He will be directing digital shorts of himself training, visiting with medical professionals, and pursuing his off-court passions of music, travel, and filmmaking through the start of the NBA season, with the first episode set to debut exclusively on the website Sept. 21.