PHOENIX — After a year of “trying to stay active without being active,” we knew Channing Frye was on the cusp of a comeback.
We knew, because the Suns’ power forward had remained active on Twitter.
And in the days leading up to Monday morning’s formal announcement during the Suns media day on the U.S. Airways Center practice court, the 30-year former University of Arizona and St. Mary’s High star had kept the team’s followers up to date through social media.
Well, up to date from his perspective.
The dilated-cardiomyopathy condition that took last season from Frye had improved enough for doctors to allow his resumption of basketball activities. But the official, public blessing from the Suns’ medical staff arrived when he stood in front of reporters accompanied by president of basketball operations Lon Babby and general manager Ryan McDonough.
“Channing is going to be able to play this season with us,” Babby said, tipping off this year’s session.
Babby and McDonough cited a strict commitment to caution as the reason why Frye’s clearance didn’t arrive more quickly, but Channing appeared to be in midseason interview form.
“There’s a lot of weird feelings going on,” he admitted before explaining why he was so motivated to come back. “When things didn’t look good, I still felt like I wasn’t done.
“I just want to play basketball … it’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Since a shoulder injury and the enlarged-heart situation, Frye hadn’t been able to do much.
“Not enough to break a sweat,” he said.
Even more difficult than watching the team he played for — and the one he grew up rooting for — dissolve into the worst team in the Western Conference was his limited ability to attack this situation.
“I couldn’t do anything,” Frye said. “I couldn’t rehab it. I couldn’t go on the court. It was very serious, and we took it very serious.”
But he could golf, become familiar with some yoga maneuvers, finish his degree, and — most importantly — spend more time with his family. When it was apparent that he’d be capable of returning to provide the Suns with veteran leadership and the floor-spacing capacity to make perimeter shots, his family understood how important returning to basketball was to him.
“I feel good,” Frye said. “There are no restrictions. I’m a little out of shape, but I feel good. I’m just grateful to the Suns for allowing me to finish what I started.
“My heart had a cold for a year, and it went away,” he said. “Now I’m better.”
When camp opens in Flagstaff, Frye will begin to slowly work his way toward in-game condition. He’s no longer on meds and will be tested every six months. And he promises his reliance on the team’s medical and training staffs will prevent him from taking the floor before he’s physically or mentally prepared. He can’t say now when that will be, but not before he’s ready.