Chris Bosh’s blood clots, the privacy of health decisions and legacies

Daniel Rowell (@danieljrowell): Hey Wes, we are emailing today to discuss lizard-man, NBA Champion, Chris Bosh. The Miami Herald is reporting that Chris Bosh failed a physical, and specifically a set of blood tests, that had been contingent on his ability to return with the Miami Heat. This comes after back-to-back seasons in which Bosh was held off the court for blood clots midway through the season. Since October of 2015, Chris Bosh has played just 97 of the Heat’s 178 games. And after four consecutive runs at an NBA title and two rings, he hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2014. This makes me sad, I miss lizard man (Is it mean to call him lizard man? I mean this sincerely) and I spent a majority of those three NBA Finals rooting against his greatness. How are you feeling about this?

Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg):  Man, I feel bad for Boshy Bear. Like you said, he went from riding high at the top of the NBA mountain to getting blood clots that have forced him to miss the second part of the last two seasons. Like, can you imagine? Chris Bosh, who worked so hard to change his game to fit in with LeBron and Wade, has to watch LeBron leave and win in Cleveland (congrats, by the way) and then watch his brother Dwyane go off to Chi-town. And he’s left fighting this? I mean, it seems like just yesterday that these three were winning ringzz together. Now the Big Three is gone, Bosh can’t even get on the damn floor and his career might be over. Life can hit you fast, man.

Rowell: That’s kind of where I am at with Bosh as well. He was an amazing stretch four that had to change his game the most of Miami’s Big Three and sadly now is the last one left in Miami. And it feels a little bit as though the two years of distance from his last title run and three years since a ring has taken some of his legacy away from him.

But what I really wanted to get at with you was your thoughts on athletes and their health. Sometimes, I think when we have people with NBA 2K ratings and endorsement deals and celebrity status, we forget that they get bloodwork, too, they have a private life, and medical care falls under that privacy. I think the reporting out of the Herald on Bosh’s status has been great and I applaud it. But it has invited a certain take online that makes me cringe. It’s the idea that we as NBA Twitter and the fans and bloggers have an opportunity to comment on his health care decisions.

I’ve seen a lot of takes that say something to the effect of…

  • Bosh should retire, he shouldn’t jeopardize his health.
  • Why aren’t the doctors doing ____?
  • Why hasn’t Bosh accepted his fate?
  • [I googled a medical opinion about blood clots]

And while I think most are doing it from a place of concern for Bosh — as a fan and appreciators of everything he has accomplished — I think it is crossing a line. What Chris Bosh is going through is a private matter in public display (and he is making a lot of it public with his documentary as well). But in the end, he is having a complicated conversation with medical care providers and his employer about his health and he is making a decision with these people about his ability to play, his treatment options, all kinds of things.

That is a conversation that he has a right to hold privately and I think it is a conversation the fans and tweet-doctors of the world should stay away from. There is so much that is unknown (as it should be) and the specifics of his situation can change his options and outlook. But no matter the circumstances, this is his health and his body and he deserves the privacy and dignity to make those decisions without his fans suggesting he or his doctors or the NBA should do anything.

I am guessing you have had to broach this topic a lot as the site expert at AllUCanHeat. So, I guess, how do you feel about this and how have you approached it?

Goldberg: To me, it’s less of a privacy issue and more of a don’t-be-an-idiot issue. I certainly see your point about how medical things as serious as this deserve a measure of care and privacy, however, I just don’t see that being realistic in a day where we have Twitter to fire off these takes and Hardwood Paroxysm to post our email conversations on. So with that, we end up discussing things like players’ relationships, politics and health. So, as someone who is not and has never claimed to be a doctor and even avoids watching them on TV unless they are named Dr. Spaceman, my goal is to not look like a dummy.

I can read every report, every example of players playing with something similar, google and read as much stuff about blood clots as I want but the fact remains that I am neither (a) a practicing doctor or someone who went to medical school or (b) Chris Bosh. I’m not smart enough to have a medical opinion, nor am I feeling what Bosh is feeling.

So, to answer your question about how I’ve approached this as someone who has to comment on it: I understand that I don’t know jack shit. And everyone on Twitter ought to admit that they don’t know jack shit. To comment in 140 characters on what another person should do with their life because of something you read… GTFO. The bottom line is that it sucks for Bosh, it sucks for the Heat and it sucks for the fans. But fans want to blame someone — as if there is someone to blame for a freak medical accident.

/steps down from soap box and wipes off trousers even though they aren’t dirty

This is just crazy, isn’t it? Where does this rank as one of the weirdest story lines in the NBA? Like, definitely has to be top three of the last decade.

Rowell: Yeah, I hate policing twitter about what hot takes should and should not — I just feel for Bosh and can’t take stand those that act like they somehow know more than what is discerned in conversations with his doctors.

And yes, the story is out of the ordinary to me, too. I’d put it up there with the DeAndre Jordan free agency, Michael Jordan’s MLB career, Delonte West and Magic Johnson. It is unique and unprecedented and I think that’s what perhaps invites the takes. This doesn’t really have a standard to go by or measure against. Chris Bosh is battling with blood clots and it has held a two-time NBA Champion back from being able to defend his reputation post-LeBron (and now post-Wade). Add in the wrinkle of this documentary series and the report from Woj that Bosh isn’t speaking with Riley and you have a F-I-A-S-C-O.

But at this point, we have a player trying to get back into the NBA and a failed test that will hold him back for the moment. It doesn’t mean he is headed to a news desk, it just means he can’t suit up yet. What happens next is a decision between him, his healthcare team and the Heat. I am curious to see what will happen but I mostly I just feel bad for Bosh. He loves basketball and at this moment he is being held back from it and that is sad because I love watching him play.

Let’s talk about Bosh’s legacy up to this point with the caveat that we don’t know what happens next. Do you think that the fact Bosh at this point is only an NBA Champion with Wade and LeBron, while those two players have won championships outside of the Miami Big Three, will negatively impact his legacy?

Goldberg: I think enough smart people understand that what Bosh did — leaving the eye-popping stats behind in Toronto and becoming perhaps the most important center in the NBA for 2-3 years — and will hopefully shape his legacy.

No doubt there are some basketball fans who still look at him as “Bosh Spice” (and seriously Skip Bayless should publicly take that back if he hasn’t already. I stopped watching First Take five years ago and now I don’t know what channel Fox Sports is on) but hopefully they aren’t loud enough to drown out the, uh, smarter fans.

Dude made 11 All-Star Games and won two rings. Come on. That’s a stacked resume, and doesn’t even begin to describe how great of a two-way player he is.

When we talk about Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis and even Draymond Green, we often look to Kevin Garnett as the player who started that transition of centers. If that’s true, then Bosh and the Heat are the missing link. They really did help usher in the era of small ball by actually winning that way.

I mean, he’s a Hall of Famer for sure, right?

Rowell: I’m with you on that, Wes. It was a “Big Three” in Miami that went to four straight Finals and won two of them. And it was Bosh that had perhaps the most important rebound in a Finals game — ever. Bosh has the rings and the stats, he is already at the HOF status in my book, I just hope he can retire the way he wants to.

Any last thoughts? I’ll let the Miami fan write this one off.

Goldberg: To have a career stripped away so suddenly can’t be easy. A lot of people are wondering why he would even bother trying to continue his career. Unfortunately, it seems it’s going to be a tough fight but, to me, he’s earned the right to fight for it.

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