Chris Bosh doesn’t have to play basketball anymore.
The man’s got money. They don’t call those deals “max contracts” for nothing.
Bosh has got a beautiful family, too, and intelligence and creativity to spare. This is a guy you could see charming a television audience as an analyst, or a halftime studio panelist, or a talk-show host, and never even breaking a sweat in the process.
Still, he’s getting ready to return to training camp this weekend with the Miami Heat, more excited than ever about what the game means to him and what he means to his team. If the pulmonary embolism that could have killed him last year ever comes up in conversation, it’s because some interviewer asks a question about it.
How do you forget severe pain coursing throughout the left side of your body, prompting an extended stay in the hospital and the scare of a lifetime for everyone close to you? You don’t, and Bosh won’t, but he isn’t thinking about a chance of careers at 31, either.
“It’s given me a different attitude about life and about basketball,” Bosh said in a recent ESPN radio interview.
Is it possible to separate one without the other? There is no certain answer to that one, at least not for those of us who can change the channel on games that aren’t working out, those of us who never have and never will push ourselves as far as these guys do physically and mentally and voluntarily.
Elite athletes in any sport are born to compete. The worst thing they can imagine is being denied that. Without that drive, they wouldn’t be who they are, climbing higher than all the rest. Without it, they wouldn’t be willing to accept a list of occupational risks that the average person doesn’t find reasonable, from football concussions to NASCAR crashes.
Think of Heat legend Alonzo Mourning returning to play in the NBA after a kidney transplant. That’s incredible, but it’s rarely the first thing that comes up when discussing his Hall of Fame career.
One day Bosh will reach the end of his career, too, about a million sprints up and down the court from now, and we will count his championships rings and add up his statistics and thank him for playing.
This comeback from blood clots in his left lung in 2014? It will be forgotten by most fans just as soon as Bosh gets back to averaging 21 points and seven rebounds, which he where he was last year when a medical emergency interrupted.
These guys never cease to amaze me, not only for the way they play, but for the way they play on, as if there really isn’t a choice.