Your first thoughts, naturally, go to Chris Bosh and his family. He’s a husband and father before being public property. He’s one of the genuine good guys, too, again mired in health concerns from a blood clot for the second consecutive year.
By all early indications, Bosh will recover fine. The Heat won’t. They can’t. And this is where your seconds thoughts go, naturally, because the Heat might have just lost the centerpiece of their franchise again.
Depending on how the medical questions settle, Bosh’s situation either causes serious problems for the Heat or earthshaking ones.
Can he return this year? Will he play next year?
If he does return, could a blood clot, too? If he doesn’t return, since his salary can’t be replaced until after next season, does an aging Dwyane Wade return? And, if Wade and Bosh go, will an aging Pat Riley stay for another rebuild?
Do you see how, as these dominoes fall, the sky does for Heat fans, too?
Some will say Bosh should retire. Two years, two serious blood clots? Why taunt fate? Saying goodbye to a career might be sad, but it’s survivable. Athletes do it all the time against their will due to the natural causes of age or talent.
Bosh has achieved everything possible, too. He has personal glory with 11 All-Star appearances and team glory with two championships. He’s rich beyond the lottery and will grow richer with three years left on a $118 million guaranteed contract.
He’s 32 next month, too, meaning most of his career is behind him anyhow.
What’s left to prove?
Maybe Bosh comes to this conclusion and retires. But you’ve seen plenty of athletes who refuse to retire when given this option. Peyton Manning is the latest and best example.
Four years ago, Manning was everything Bosh is today: Rich, a champion, nearing the end of a career and recovering from a serious health issue – in Manning’s case a spinal fusion that delivered the added risk of paralysis.
Manning even left his forever Indianapolis team for Denver. He kept playing anyway. He has since played in two Super Bowls, including the most recent one, which should allow him to retire a happily-ever-after champion.
Does Bosh want any of that? Who knows? But sports are full of such driven athletes. Just on the Heat, Alonzo Mourning kept going after a kidney transplant and won a championship, too.
So this is Bosh’s decision to make with all the advice of his wife and doctors. No one would argue otherwise, including the Heat, whose season just broke apart like Humpty Dumpty.
Without Bosh, all this talk about a big trade before Thursday’s deadline is meaningless. Without Bosh, they’re not a playoff team. Without Bosh, they might as well play Hassan Whiteside, sculpt a better role for Goran Dragic and accelerate Justise Winslow even more.
They’re the future now. Not Wade. He’s 34, now loses another year, and possibly loses next season with the Heat depending on what happens with Bosh. Does he want to go out as the centerpiece of a sinking team, like Kobe Bryant with the Lakers?
The basketball shame is that Riley seemed on the verge of something fascinating again. The rumors were the Heat might trade Dragic and Whiteside to Houston and receive Al Horford in return from Atlanta.
Bosh. Wade. Horford. That would have been an interesting team come the playoffs.
Now the Heat are better off finishing among the worst 10 teams again and receiving the draft pick they otherwise lose to Philadelphia. Get another young player. Hope it works out like it did with Winslow.
It tells how transitory sports are that, with Chris Andersen traded Tuesday and Bosh facing the possibility of missing significant time, only two players would remain from the Heat’s 2014 championship team (Wade and Udonis Haslem).
The question now becomes whether Bosh is gone for good from basketball.
If so, that’s not a tragedy. He’s had a great career and has a full life to enjoy. He’ll be fine, if that’s the case. It’s the Heat who won’t recover easily. Buckle your seat belts, Heat fans. This could get ugly.