Navigating life after a career in pro sports is difficult for some athletes even in the best of circumstances – when that person can dictate the terms of their retirement.
The fame, the annual pay, the adulation, the cheers, competition are rarely the same.
It can be more difficult for athletes whose careers are ended by injury or health issues.
That’s the situation Chris Bosh faced when another blood clot halted his NBA career in 2016. He was still at the top of his game – just three seasons removed from his second championship with the Miami Heat and just named to his 11th consecutive All-Star team.
“It’s extremely different because as athletes, especially in the NBA, you work your whole life and sacrifice to get this point professionally,” Bosh told USA TODAY Sports in 2018. “If and when that’s in jeopardy, it makes things very hard. I had to answer a lot of questions. I had to take time. It was a very rough time. What else do I like? I didn’t even know what else I liked.”
On Twitter earlier this week, Bosh wrote, “My career didn’t end soaked in champagne, celebrating a championship, or even in tears on the court. It ended in a doctor’s office in the middle of the afternoon. But when a door is closed, a window opens.”
On Saturday, Bosh will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Rick Adelman, Bill Russell (as a coach), Jay Wright, Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson.
Also in the class of 2021: Val Ackerman, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Howard Garfinkel, Clarence Jenkins, Toni Kukoc, Bob Dandridge and Pearl Moore.
Bosh found his way. The title page of his website calls him an author, musician, NBA Hall of Famer. He is also a music producer and dedicated dad.
His book, ‘Letters to a Young Athlete,’ was published in June. In it, he spreads the eternal philosophy of appreciating the present.
“Whatever our game of choice, whatever kind of talent we’re blessed with, wherever we’re hoping the game will take us,” he wrote, “we’re all the same when it comes to this: We all have that capacity to stop and experience the joy of what we’re doing.”
Bosh did that during his career with the Toronto Raptors, who selected him No. 4 in the 2003 draft, behind LeBron James, Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony and ahead of Dwyane Wade, and with the Heat where he joined James and Wade for the modern-day super team.
In 13 NBA seasons, he averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds and shot 49.4% from the field, including a career-high 24 points and 10.8 rebounds in 2009-10. But Bosh’s game is marked by more than statistics and his two championships.
When he joined the Heat, it began an era of players forming super teams based on friendships developed through years of basketball at the amateur, Olympic and pro levels. And of Miami’s Big 3, Bosh sacrificed his game the most. He scored fewer points and had fewer rebounds and his usage rate declined. He had bigger goals.
He also helped design a blueprint for a modern-day big man – a forward-center who moved out to the 3-point line to create spacing for better offense.
Bosh racked up impressive moments – 19 points in a 2012 Game 7 victory over Boston in the Eastern Conference finals, 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game against Oklahoma City in the 2012 Finals, 34 points against Chicago in the 2011 conference finals and career-high 44 points with the Raptors against Milwaukee in 2010.
Perhaps his biggest play didn’t involve his scoring, and it led to a Heat victory in a Final game and an eventual championship. In Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, San Antonio had a 3-2 series lead and were ahead 95-92 with 19 seconds left in regulation.
James missed a 3-pointer, but Bosh collected the rebound and assisted on Ray Allen’s corner 3 with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Bosh’s play was a brilliant display of instincts while knowing time, score and where his teammates were supposed to be on the court. The Heat forced overtime, won the game and captured their second consecutive title in Game 7.
Even though James left the Heat for Cleveland in 2014, Bosh and Wade still provided Miami with an All-Star duo. But Bosh’s blood clots – in 2015 and 2016 – altered Miami’s course and Bosh’s career.
Three years ago, he expressed interest in returning to the NBA even though it was unlikely a doctor would clear him to play at that level again.
He wrote in his book, “a part of me wishes I was still out there in the mix, chasing rings …”
Given that his friends Chris Paul, James and Anthony are still doing that, Bosh might be still be doing that if not for his serious health issues.
Bosh had a successful NBA career, and he was rewarded with one of basketball’s highest honors – a spot in the Hall of Fame. And he has embarked on a rewarding post-basketball life.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Bosh’s Hall of Fame career marked by more than stats, rings
Source: Yahoo Sports