The rigors of the NBA and stress of a playoff chase have been replaced by simpler pursuits these days for Chris Bosh — but ones not less important. Can there be a bigger victory than surviving a serious medical scare and then slowly regaining one’s health?
“Just recently I started driving around the block,” Bosh said. “I pretty much stay at home, being around my children and my wife. I walk a little bit every day. Take time to reflect. Sit outside, enjoy this beautiful weather and appreciate it.”
Bosh’s gradual recovery from the blood clots in his lung brought him back to his other home Monday evening — home to the Heat’s downtown arena, to his basketball family, to his fans. It marked the first time in 26 days he’d been back around the team.
Miami badly needs him back in his familiar No. 1 jersey, of course, but that won’t happen until next season. Instead he wore a dark blue pinstriped suit, open-collared white shirt and dress shoes on an emotional night as the Heat hosted the Boston Celtics.
“All the love and energy has allowed me to be back here, not under the circumstances I want, but beggars can’t be choosers,” he said.
Bosh is undergoing months of blood thinners that will eliminate the threatening clots but that leave him weak since being diagnosed Feb. 21 with the condition that immediately ended his season. The Heat announced that Bosh may resume regular exercise later this month if he is cleared in a medical reevaluation. He would be cleared to begin strength training in April and to resume full basketball activities in September — just in time for training camp and next season.
On Monday, after a brief seven-minute session with the media, Bosh enjoyed an ovation from fans as he walked to center court before the game to welcome a local member of the military as part of the club’s “Home Strong” program.
Earlier in the day, some 35 Heat staffers had surprised Bosh at his home with large boxes containing 10,000 get-well wishes from Heat fans.
Now he stood before the folks who sent those wishes.
“I truly am standing here because of you guys,” he said as they cheered. “This is not the situation I want to be in, but I’m happy to be right here where I belong.”
Bosh then happily took a seat on the Heat’s bench. Until Monday night he hadn’t even met new teammates Goran Dragic or Henry Walker, both of whom arrived during his week’s hospitalization. Nor had Bosh seen Michael Beasley since he’d been re-signed.
The Heat makes a big deal about the “family” aspect of its organization and its locker room.
Welcoming back Bosh on Monday was a symbol of that bond.
“This is a big step, getting him back in the building and around the guys,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I know it will help the guys, but I think it will really help C.B., as well.”
Even Celtics coach Brad Stevens was moved by Bosh’s reappearance. It is mostly unsaid but well-known: Blood clots can kill you if not detected in time.
“It can be inspiring to us all,” Stevens said of Bosh’s return, even in street clothes. “That’s a scary deal he’s been going through. Those are things you just don’t know about and then all of a sudden they pop.”
Bosh revealed Monday that doctors speculate he might have played about three weeks with undetected clots silently growing inside him.
“Some days were rough, but I was thinking it was something else,” he said. “With the situations we’ve been though [as a team] this year, I did not want to add to the snowball. It’s an athlete thing. We’re always trying to be superheroes. But I was in a lot of pain, and it got to the point I had to swallow my pride.”
At last his wife had cajoled Bosh to see a doctor. (Asked if Adrienne might have saved his life, Bosh showed veteran-husband savvy in answering, “She saves my life on a daily basis.”)
This has been a crazy season for the Heat. Miami battles through the disappointment of a losing record and was one spot out of the last playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, yet the season has been weirdly compelling, never dull.
Losing LeBron James in free agency was just the start. Injuries have ravaged the roster, offsetting the exciting emergence of young 7-footer Hassan Whiteside and the trade for the premier point guard Dragic.
“Never seen a season around here like this,” said Dwyane Wade, who has seen them all since 2003.
Bosh’s health scare overshadows it all and demands fresh perspective. He admitted that for “a short period of time” he feared his career was over.
It’s funny, but of all of the emotions that have swirled inside Bosh the past month, the one that came out most clearly as he spoke Monday was thankfulness. Appreciation.
He spoke of “playing with my kids as much as I can,” and of playing again, next season, with the teammates he calls brothers.
“The game has given everything to me,” Bosh said. “I appreciate everything about basketball, just being in the grind of doing this special job that we have. It’s something that I love and will love forever.”