Two straight years, Chris Bosh’s season has ended in February, as he’s battled multiple occurrences of blood clots. At best, the symptoms and treatments make him unable to play basketball; at worst, his condition is life-affecting and even, potentially, fatal. Bosh wants to find a way to play, but here’s a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst citing Heat sources who aren’t sure he’ll ever suit up again.
There is a fear within the Heat organization that Bosh’s condition will prevent him from ever being cleared to play by team doctors, several sources said. It’s a result of exhaustive consultations with specialists. Something this big and delicate, the sides have gone deep attempting to understand all the options.
It’s forced everyone to confront the possibility of Bosh ultimately being forced into a medical retirement.
Bosh is still just 32, and man, that Raptors series probably would have gone very differently if he had been around. But Bosh’s blood clots flared up again around the All-Star Game, and though they had reportedly dissipated by the playoffs, the danger was still there. He is taking blood thinners, both to break up the clots and to prevent another reoccurrence, and athletes on blood thinners generally can’t play contact sports over the risk of “trauma-related bleeding.”
Without treating the clots, Bosh faces a worst-case scenario no one wants to consider. When he was first diagnosed in early 2015, the clots had moved from his calf to his lungs, putting him at risk for a pulmonary embolism—an blocked artery in his lungs that could be fatal.
But the blood clots are just a symptom; neither Bosh nor the Heat have revealed his underlying condition. So it’s possible there are other risks we aren’t aware of, just as there are other potential treatment options. Bosh was reportedly pushing for a course of treatment that doesn’t involve blood thinners in an attempt to get back on the court, and the Heat medical staff was pushing back, leading to public disagreement between the two sides earlier this month. Bosh reportedly attempted to get the players’ union on his side, but however that was resolved, Bosh was ruled out for the year.
It’s a shitty situation—the Heat obviously want Bosh to play, but not at the risk of his health or his life. So they have no choice but to start thinking about the situation if it looks like Bosh can’t ever return.
Bosh last played Feb. 9. According to league rules, if he does not play again by Feb. 9, 2017, an independent doctor approved by the Heat and the player’s union can review Bosh’s case and give a recommendation to the league. If the doctor doesn’t believe Bosh can continue his career, the Heat can take the 11-time All-star’s contract off their books for salary cap purposes.
Bosh’s salary is guaranteed, so he’ll be paid no matter what happens, though if he retires insurance will cover some of it. It’s the salary cap space—Bosh is signed for three more years, with an average cap hit of $25 million—that would matter to Miami. That still doesn’t help the Heat decide how much to offer UFA Hassan Whiteside this summer.