MIAMI (AP) — Not even a week ago, Chris Bosh was talking about how eager he was to get home in an effort to turn the Miami Heat’s season around.
His focus will be on something far more important now.
The All-Star forward’s season is over, with the Heat announcing Saturday that - as suspected - blood clots were found on one of his lungs. The problem, if it had not been caught, could have killed the 30-year-old Bosh, who had been fighting pain in his side and back for several days.
“He was able to get in front of it early,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said, adding that Bosh’s wife, Adrienne, encouraged him to get checked out when the problem wouldn’t subside. “That’s the good thing that helps all of us sleep at night.”
The team said Bosh “is receiving care under the guidance of Miami Heat team physicians” at a hospital, adding that “his prognosis is good.”
Bosh posted a photo on social media accounts Saturday night showing him in a hospital gown and bed, with an oxygen tube.
“Thank you for all the messages, love, and support. It has truly lifted my spirits through this tough process,” Bosh wrote, adding several hashtags including one that read “Iwillbebacksoon.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sounded upbeat about Bosh’s road to recovery. The team received the news Saturday morning, Spoelstra said, and welcomed the clarity after a frightening couple of days.
“His health will be restored,” Spoelstra said before Miami’s 105-91 home loss to New Orleans. “That’s the most important thing. That’s bigger than basketball.”
Spoelstra and Wade visited Bosh on Saturday.
“It’s been very emotional for all of us,” Spoelstra said. “I was in constant contact with CB. But he didn’t know either until they were able to go through all the tests and see all the specialists. ... I can’t imagine how tough it was for Chris and Adrienne.”
Bosh is the second NBA player whose final game this season was the All-Star Game. New York’s Carmelo Anthony was shut down for knee surgery earlier in the week, a move that was long expected.
Bosh’s situation was anything but. It was nothing short of a shock to the Heat, who entered Saturday with a 23-30 record and holding onto the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Losing him becomes the latest - and by far the biggest - blow in a season filled with tumult for the Heat, reminiscent in some ways to when All-Star center Alonzo Mourning was forced to miss most of Miami’s 2000-01 season because of a kidney disease that eventually necessitated a transplant.
Mourning was able to return, and helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title. Spoelstra stressed that any talk of when Bosh can resume play can wait.
“We’re not even thinking about that right now,” Spoelstra said. “The most important thing is he’ll be healthy again. We’ll get a game plan as we continue to get more information.”
Bosh averaged 21.1 points and 7 rebounds for the Heat this season, his first in a five-year deal signed this past summer that will pay him $118 million.
Bosh was part of the ballyhooed free-agent haul Miami landed in 2010, when he and LeBron James were brought in to play alongside Wade and form one of the most star-studded trios in league history.
They were together four seasons, the breakup coming this past summer when James elected to go back to Cleveland. They went to the NBA Finals four times, winning two rings, the second of those in 2013 when Bosh made two plays that will forever be etched in Heat history.
On the 3-pointer that Ray Allen hit with 5.2 seconds left of Game 6 of that year’s NBA Finals against San Antonio, it was Bosh who fended off Manu Ginobili for the offensive rebound and found Allen backtracking toward the right corner for the tying shot. And to end that game, Bosh blocked Danny Green’s potentially game-tying 3-point try as the overtime clock expired.
Those were the glory days. This year has been a far cry, one where the Heat have constantly fought injury and illness, with a constant string of different lineups being assembled.
“What you’re seeing now is a group that’s becoming more resilient every single day because of all these adversities,” Spoelstra said.
In cases like these, it’s common for the clots to have worked their way from the legs to the lungs, a dangerous occurrence. Just days ago, such a medical event led to the sudden death of former NBA star Jerome Kersey, who was only 52 and showed no signs of trouble.
Last month, Brooklyn forward Mirza Teletovic was ruled out for the season once clots were found on his lungs. Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao went through a similar situation and missed most of the 2012-13 season.
“It probably hasn’t hit him yet that he’s going to miss the entire season,” Wade said. “But right now that’s the furthest thing from his mind and all of our minds.”
Many athletes have dealt with clots and eventually returned, some better than ever. But the road to recovery is often long, starting with blood-thinning medication being prescribed - and those on that typically have to clear many hurdles before they can resume regular activity.
“Get well soon @chrisbosh you will come back stronger than ever,” Heat managing general partner Micky Arison wrote on Twitter. “Your future is very bright.”