Sidelined by blood clots since the middle of the 2015-16 season, Chris Bosh has spent a lot of time away from the Heat over the past few years.
But recently, the 11-time All-Star power forward has spent a lot of time around the organization.
While spending part of the holidays at his Miami Beach home, Bosh attended each of the Heat’s past three home games — a Dec. 28 win over the Cavaliers, a Dec. 30 loss to the Timberwolves and Friday’s win over the Wizards. He also sat courtside at AmericanAirlines Arena for the Heat’s win over the Knicks on Oct. 24.
“It’s meant a lot,” said Josh Richardson, who was a Heat rookie when Bosh last played. “CB was one of the backbones of our team when I first got here. For him to come back and spend time with us and show that he still cares is awesome.”
Making Bosh’s presence around the team even more significant is the fact he was once involved in a dispute with the Heat about whether it was safe to return to the NBA. Bosh was hopeful he would be healthy enough to play in 2016-17, but he failed a team physical just before the start of training camp.
Bosh, 34, kept pushing to return to the court, but the Heat made the decision to keep him out. Miami officially parted ways with Bosh on July 4, 2017, waiving him to clear his contract from its salary cap after an NBA doctor ruled in the Heat’s favor and agreed with the organization’s belief that his blood clot issues are considered a career-ending illness.
As part of that settlement, which still has Bosh earning $26.8 million this season (it does not count toward Miami’s cap and it is mostly covered by insurance), he is not allowed to return to play for the Heat at any point. But it appears he has settled into life after basketball, although he hasn’t officially announced the end of his playing career.
“Chris was going through a lot,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said of his former teammate and close friend. “He was somebody who was one of the best players in the world, and he had a diagnosis that comes that no one is familiar with, really. It’s just a tough situation. You got a player who was 32 at the time, something like that, and the way the game is going, can play for a long time. It’s just unfortunate.
“So yeah, of course it’s going to take a lot of hardship to get out of that situation and get to where everybody is now. But the bigger picture, he needs to and should be a part of this organization. I’m glad to see him around.”
Bosh hasn’t just spent his time watching games from his courtside seat. He’s also spent time behind the scenes with Heat executives like team president Pat Riley, and has been in the locker room talking to players.
Bosh was even at practice on Dec. 29 helping to drill players.
“It’s great,” said Wade, who surprised Bosh with an autographed jersey following a Dec. 28 win over the Cavaliers as part of the jersey exchange that’s become a trademark of his final NBA season.
“We don’t have all of this without a Chris Bosh — all of the things that make us proud as a city, as a state and as an organization — without what he was able to bring to this franchise. So things happen and I think the best part about it is when people put all ego and pride aside and come back together and understand it was special what we had and the relationship they had. I’m glad to see him back around, glad to see his family down the street from my family where I’m used to them being.”
As part of Miami’s Big Three, Bosh helped the Heat win two NBA titles in 2012 and 2013. He averaged 18.0 points on 49.6 percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds in 384 regular-season games with the Heat.
In a statement issued in July 2017 when Bosh was waived, Riley called him “one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise” and added that his jersey number “1” will never be worn by another Heat player and will eventually be retired.
“It’s great to see him smiling,” center Hassan Whiteside said of Bosh. “Having him around is great. I’m happy to have him around.”