Leave Him Home: The Cure For What Ails Chris Bosh

Commentary6 years ago5 min readAlf, Heat Twitter President

On March 4, 1990, whether you watched it live, or through one of countless documentaries, the scene is always jarring.

Hank Gathers of LMU is running back down the court against the University of Portland after a rim-shaking dunk, and suddenly, he tragically crumples to the floor. But what may have been missed during this heart-wrenching, shuddering scene at first viewing is a face familiar to all Miami fans … it’s the face of Portland point guard and future Heat head coach, Erik Spoelstra.

Spoelstra was arguably the closest player to Gathers at the time of his collapse and has told of its lasting effects on him during subsequent interviews. So it’s safe to assume that player health and safety is not something that he, or anyone on his staff, takes lightly. And when reports surface that the Heat organization isn’t rushing Chris Bosh back to the court from his most recent blood clot scare, it’s a safe bet that those reports have merit.

When we speak of basketball injuries, we’re usually talking about bones and muscles. Strains, pulls, breaks and fractures. Games missed, seasons ruined, careers threatened or ended.  Rarely are the decisions facing teams, players and franchises of the life-threatening variety.

But this is, in fact, the type of decision that faces the Miami Heat and Chris Bosh at this crucial juncture. After two straight years of potentially season-ending blood clots, it would be foolish to treat Bosh’s situation as a couple of isolated incidents. The reality of Bosh’s medical condition is both scary and life-changing. Bosh and the Heat must find a solution that balances the player’s will to compete, the team’s ability to contend and the best interest of the human being at the center of all this.

The solution may not be as complicated as one would think and could already be in the Heat’s locker room in the form of a seven foot behemoth with tremendous upside and a pension for Snap Chat.

One common sentiment echoed by medical experts concerning blood clots in athletes can be summed up rather succinctly. Big person + small plane + long trips = bad news. Especially when the person in question has already exhibited a susceptibility to clotting.

Both of Bosh’s blood clot related absences occurred shortly after the Heat’s annual season-long circus road trip. This fact cannot be viewed as merely a coincidence. Bosh’s 6-foot-11 frame crammed into even the most luxurious of charter plane seats has to be looked at as a significant threat to his health and to his future. No longer can six and seven game road trips be looked at as merely “part of the deal.”

So if Bosh is cleared to return for the 2016–17 season, maybe the answer is as simple as this: Leave Bosh in Miami.

Maybe the solution’s too radical? Maybe … but the idea of inviting the return of future blood clots and blood thinner regimens for a Tuesday night tilt at Milwaukee is even more ludicrous. Especially, when it looks like the Heat as presently constructed can survive Bosh’s absence for extended periods. Forty-one home games, that’s all you get and all you need. This gives Bosh a season of rest and rehabilitation leading into the playoffs where the travel regimen becomes much less strenuous.

Would this disrupt team chemistry? Of course, but what is the alternative? Play a game of roulette with a man’s life out of respect for a game?

And this is where Hassan Whiteside comes into play. Many in the Heat fanbase, myself included, have balked at the idea of paying Whiteside near-max money to stay in Miami. A half a season of half-hearted screens and stat padding cooled the notion that Whiteside was a game changer.

Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat reacts after a dunk during a game against the Golden State Warriors at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Feb, 24, 2016 in Miami.

But recently, with Bosh out, Whiteside has valiantly filled a void left by the Heat’s best player. He’s crushing people on screens, maintaining defensive assignments and becoming less of a liability on the floor. In fact, you could argue he’s been the Heat’s most important weapon the last handful of games.

It has become increasingly obvious for months now that Whiteside and Bosh sharing the court is a detriment to the Heat’s offense. In the current NBA, having two big men on the floor at the same time isn’t a recipe for success. Moving forward, Bosh and Whiteside are both centers in this league, and even without Bosh’s latest absence, the Heat were going to come to that realization.

So what better way to split time between the two, than to literally split time between the two. With Bosh starting home games and Whiteside your starting center on the road. If Whiteside continues to perform like he has lately, he will have more than earned that spot.

But putting basketball to the side, the focus needs to be on what matters most, the livelihood of a man that has become beloved by a city, not just for his monstrous efforts on the court, but also for his gregarious spirit off of it. Bosh is the closest thing the NBA has to a renaissance man and such a revolutionary personality should be afforded a revolutionary strategy.

So please, someone tell Spoelstra next season when he’s penciling in his starting lineup for that Tuesday night game in Milwaukee, not to risk it. Leave Bosh in Miami. Leave him home.