Chris Bosh is making a lot of music these days. He drinks beer and thinks about making more beer. He sketches. He paints. He plays with his kids. He has even learned how to use a wrench.
He is also happy and healthy.
And finally, he’s made peace with the devastating way that blood clots ended his NBA career without warning and when he was still in his prime. The Miami Heat will retire his No. 1 jersey on Tuesday night, making Bosh the fourth former franchise pillar with a jersey swaying from the rafters of AmericanAirlines Arena after Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.
His career is obviously worthy of celebrating. Bosh just hasn’t been in the mood to celebrate, until now.
“It’s very awesome,” Bosh said. “I thought I had more time, but in the time I gave it was still worthy enough to have the organization and the great Pat Riley consider this. Pretty cool.”
Bosh played 13 seasons, the first seven in Toronto and the last six in Miami. He averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds, was an All-Star 11 times and won two championships. There have been 30 players in NBA history with 11 All-Star nods — 23 of them are in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the other seven aren’t yet eligible.
They will all probably be there one day, Bosh included.
“It’s really such a crime that his career ended early, particularly when you know Chris and know how important the game is to him and how many things he did right as a winner, as a teammate, as a champion,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If you teach lessons to your young players coming into a league on how to be a pro and have those kinds of qualities, you’re coming up with a lot of qualities that Chris embodied.”
Tuesday’s game might easily be Miami’s biggest of the season; it’s against the Orlando Magic, battling the Heat for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Still, when Bosh’s jersey is retired at halftime Spoelstra plans to have the Heat on-court for the ceremony.
“I want them to see the love that this city has for CB and for us to honor him in the right way in our building,” Spoelstra said. “You only do that for true champions like CB and the kind of human being that CB is. You don’t do that for average guys.”
It’s fitting that Bosh gets a banner all his own, since there’s no fewer than six others in the arena — four Eastern Conference ones, two NBA championship ones — that might not be there without him. When the Heat formed the “Big 3” that also had LeBron James and Dwyane Wade back in 2010, Bosh was the first to commit to being part of that trio.
Had he gone elsewhere, who knows what would have happened.
“All we’ve wanted now for CB is for him to have his health and happiness,” James said earlier this season.
There was also, of course, The Moment.
Game 6, 2013 NBA Finals, San Antonio at Miami, Spurs leading the series 3-2 and up by three, seconds away from a title. Bosh will never forget the play called Pistol Hammer — something Spoelstra made the Heat practice at every shootaround, and something they never ran until that moment.
The play sort of fell apart, but James still got a 3-pointer off. It missed badly and Bosh, seeing the flight the whole way, knew where to go for the rebound. He grabbed it and passed to Ray Allen for the memorable game-tying 3-pointer.
The Heat beat San Antonio in overtime by three, after Bosh read a botched coverage and blocked Danny Green’s 3-point try at the buzzer. Miami won Game 7 for its second straight title.
“It always gives me the chills,” Bosh said. “It makes me cringe a little bit because it shows you how quickly things can change.”
Sometimes, change is great.
His first known battle with blood clots came during the All-Star break in 2015, when he felt ill during a vacation with Wade and others. Days later, he was ruled out for the remainder of the season. He returned the next year, performed at a high level again — but knew as soon as he got to Toronto that something was wrong with his calf.
Another clot was found. Bosh never played again. He wanted to and was estranged from the Heat for a considerable amount of time, and the rift only started to close after a three-hour lunch with Heat President Pat Riley. The Heat told Bosh they weren’t budging, that they cared too much about his health to let him play.
Bosh got the remaining $52 million on his $118 million contract. In the financial sense, he was made whole. But he never learned why the clots kept happening. And a year ago, at the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, Bosh’s wife Adrienne had enough — she pulled her husband aside, told him to end his self-described “pity party” and start enjoying being around the game and his friends again.
“I feel great now,” Bosh said. “Things are great. Things are really, really good.”
So now, it’s a more normal life. Trash day is Wednesday. Recycling happens on the second and fourth Wednesdays. He loves making music. He’s getting better at art. He can’t stand the idea of time away from his kids.
And on Tuesday night, his Heat number gets retired.
“I’m very happy with where I’m at, with how I feel,” Bosh said. “That’s what is most important. I couldn’t even imagine trying to play basketball again. So I had a pretty solid run. And yeah, it’s over. But it was a pretty solid run.”