MIAMI (AP) — Back in the Miami Heat locker room for the first time in nearly a month, Chris Bosh had things he needed to say.
His teammates hung on every word.
Bosh gave an impromptu speech on Monday night, his first time around the Heat since being diagnosed last month with blood clots on a lung that threatened his life — but only took away his season. He told them how his biggest pain now is not being able to play basketball, reminding them not to take anything for granted.
“It was great having him here,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.
It won’t be such an uncommon occurrence for much longer.
Bosh is getting closer to recovery and a return to the NBA. The Heat revealed he could be cleared to start regularly exercising later this month, and is scheduled to resume “full basketball activities” in September.
“All the love and energy has really, really allowed me to be back here,” Bosh said. “Not under the circumstances I want to be, but beggars can’t be choosers. Very happy to be here and I’m doing a lot better.”
Bosh has no way of really knowing, but figures he played with the clots on his lung — a dangerous situation, to say the least.
“I’m imagining I did, yeah,” Bosh said. “Some days were rough. Some weren’t. … I just wanted to play ball.”
Bosh looks normal, but he’s far from his usual self. His physical exertion is strictly limited and he just recently started driving around the block.
“Do a little bit of walking every day, just trying to get better,” Bosh said. “Just take time to reflect, sit outside and enjoy this beautiful weather and appreciate it.”
It was a busy Monday for Bosh. Earlier, 35 Heat employees arrived via bus at his house and surprised him by dropping off 10,000 get-well cards. Bosh was in the driveway, basking in the sun and beaming as he held one of the many overstuffed boxes.
Bosh said there were discussions weeks ago about whether he would ever be able to play again, but that those conversations quickly ended.
“I knew I was going to play basketball again,” Bosh said.
He was on the court Monday, meeting a soldier who was being honored pregame by the Heat and then briefly addressing the crowd.
“I want to thank each and every one of you for all the love,” he said, urging fans to support Miami’s push toward a playoff spot. Bosh lined up alongside his teammates for the national anthem. He then took a spot on the bench for the game, encouraging and chatting with teammates and coaches in the Heat’s 100-90 loss to the Celtics.
His last game with the Heat was Feb. 11, just before the start of the All-Star break. Bosh was dealing with pain in his side and back for some time (even seeking help from a chiropractor at one point), but went to All-Star weekend in New York anyway — teaming with Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash to win the Shooting Stars competition at the league’s midseason showcase for the third straight year.
He then went on vacation to Haiti for a few days. The pain intensified and eventually Bosh went to the hospital to get checked out.
Then came the news that scared so many, especially since the same issue — blood clots finding their way to a lung — caused former NBA player Jerome Kersey to die that same week.
Bosh, somehow, wasn’t worried.
“I don’t know why,” Bosh said. “It just didn’t come as a scary thing at the time.”
After about a week in the hospital, Bosh went home and has been trying to remain patient since.
“He sends me texts during the game, things like ‘Shoot the ball, 3′” Wade said. “He knows I don’t see them until after. But it makes him feel better.”
Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, visited with Bosh and his wife, Adrienne, after Saturday’s Heat win over Sacramento game, catching up over red wine and conversation. Adrienne Bosh was the one who talked her husband into finally going to the hospital.
“She saves my life on a daily basis,” Bosh said.
Wade said Bosh has been inspiring even in his absence.
The Heat are a banged-up team right now, with about half the roster dealing with legitimate injuries. Wade’s one of them, and when his sore hip has acted up in recent days, he said he’s talked his way through it in part by reminding himself that Bosh is going through something much more serious.
“We’ve talked about how blessed and how fortunate, how privileged we are, to be involved in this game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “For the guys who are able to compete out there, even if you don’t feel 100 percent, it’s an incredible honor.
“And CB would do just about anything to be out there right now.”
This article was written by Tim Reynolds from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.