- David Zalubowski/AP
The Miami Heat begin the second round of the playoffs Tuesday night when they take on the Toronto Raptors.
And by all measures, it appears they will do so without the help of perhaps their best player, Chris Bosh, who has been out since the All-Star break.
Bosh was set to play in the All-Star game when reports indicated that there was a blood clot found in his leg. Bosh missed the second half of the 2014-15 season when doctors found blood clots in his lungs.
Since, there’s been almost no update on Bosh. The Heat initially said he’s out “indefinitely” while Bosh put out a statement in March saying he felt confident he would be back this season. The Heat have not updated his status.
Now. according to reports from several insiders, there’s an “awkward” and “unusual” standoff taking place between Bosh and the team.
On April 28, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was on the “TrueHoop” podcast and spoke about Bosh’s status.
“Chris Bosh wants to play,” Windhorst said. “Chris Bosh wants to be freed up to help the team, and the Heat have not said anything publicly. I have not seen a situation where a star player has been out for months, and the team has never said a word publicly about it. According to the Heat, they’ve never even declared what his issue is, publicly.”
Windhorst continued, noting that it may be a money issue relating to whether it’s safe to let Bosh play.
“If Chris Bosh is going to never be cleared by the Heat doctors to play in the NBA again, because he has what we believe is a blood-clotting issue, then it behooves the Heat to not play him, because it enables them to get him off their books faster.”
Windhorst said he believes the Heat have Bosh’s best interests in mind, but not updating his status has been strange. ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh on the podcast called the silence “awkward.”
Then, on Tuesday, May 3, Windhorst appeared on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” and elaborated further that playing Bosh could be potentially life-threatening.
“Of course the Heat would love to have [Bosh] back, but you just can’t play when you’re on blood-thinners, you just can’t. And from what I understand, the Heat believe that there’s no team in the league that would play Chris Bosh under the circumstances that he’s facing right now.
“Having somebody who’s had a blood clot before, the medication, it works, it’s life-saving medication, but the side effects make it impossible to play. If you get elbowed in the side of the head, you can get in a situation where you die from bleeding inside your brain.”
Similarly, ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said that it’s strange to see a team acting in a player’s best interest against the player’s wishes.
“I can’t think of a lot of instances where a sports organization is acting in what appears to be the best interests of the player, over their own interests, and against the will of the player,” Le Batard said.
“Chris Bosh wants back on the court, and now. Wants to get back to the Miami Heat. And the Miami Heat, on medical advice, are saying ‘Absolutely not. No.’ They’re paying him, they need him, they badly want to get to an Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron. And they’re telling him, ‘No, you cannot work.'”
Le Batard called it a “conflict”, adding, “it promises to get a little bit messier.”
While it appears that the Heat are trying to protect Bosh, what makes the standoff unusual is that Bosh appears to want to get back on the court.
After the Heat lost Games 3 and 4 of the first-round series against the Charlotte Hornets, Bosh’s wife, Adrienne, took to Twitter, promoting a hasthag “#bringboshback” to bring the power forward back to the court. Bosh himself then posted a video of him hitting a three-pointer in a gym, with the caption “Still got it.”
— /r/Heat (@Heat_Reddit) April27, 2016
As Windhorst and Le Batard hint, it’s a complicated matter that could get more tangled. Bosh signed a five-year, $118 million with the Heat in 2014. He’s owed a lot of money over the next three seasons, particularly for a player, who, to date, hasn’t been able to finish a season the last two years. The Heat certainly have to weigh the business side of things, but all reports suggest they are also looking out for Bosh.
However, their business interests need to be weighed against Bosh’s desires. If Bosh has any legitimate argument that he can come back and play, it may raise eyebrows over the Heat’s intentions. But if Bosh is putting himself in a dangerous situation by trying to play through blood clots or while taking blood-thinners, the Heat are right to play it safe.