'If you can play, play': Chris Bosh speaks on rest debate
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MIAMI — Chris Bosh never wanted to take games off as a player and would give anything to be playing right now. So he has a very simple perspective on the NBA's rest-or-play debate .
"If you can play," Bosh said, "go out there and play."
Having the game taken away from him for what will amount to the last season-and-a-half — and counting, maybe for good — because of issues related to blood clots is still not an easy pill for Bosh to swallow. Now working as an analyst for Turner Sports, he's seeing the game in a different way than he was just a year or so ago.
He gets the players' side. He understands the fans' frustration. He's acutely aware of the demands that come with playing 82 games in 170 days, and how it's been an even hotter-than-usual talking point in the NBA of late with teams like Golden State and Cleveland — the last two NBA champions — electing to rest superstars in recent nationally televised games.
"I can see it in some instances," Bosh said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But then at the same time, if you can play, play. When there's so much work to do, it's kind of hard to see why guys would take time off. With that said, from a player's side, the schedule is intense. But I guess that's part of being in the NBA. And I think what happened was when young guys start saying 'Oh, rest,' that kind of brought it to a tipping point a little bit."
These days, Bosh isn't playing, nor is he resting.
He's spent about a month working with Turner on its "Players Only" Monday night broadcasts, something that gets him back around some NBA peers and into a setting where a locker-room type camaraderie reigns. The last of those five broadcasts is next week, and Bosh hasn't ruled out more television work in the future.
"They have a very candid bunch of guys, champions, guys who have made their names in their own ways in so many different generations in the league," Bosh said. "Being in there with Chris Webber and Isiah Thomas, Kevin Garnett, a big-brother type guy in Baron Davis, it's cool. It has been therapeutic because you don't realize how much you miss that locker-room aspect until you're away from it."
Bosh remains under contract with the Miami Heat, though the team is likely to begin a process of waiving him and getting salary-cap relief from the final two years of his deal. He'll be owed about $52.1 million for 2017-18 and 2018-19, money he is guaranteed to receive but dollars that may not count against the Heat books.
He is reticent to discuss his playing future, though acknowledged again that planning to play this season but not being able to because of a failed physical "was a challenge."
"I'm still a basketball player at heart," Bosh said. "I can't help it."
Bosh was sidelined by a blood clot at the All-Star break in 2015, met the same fate at the same time in last season's schedule, and hasn't played since.
"I'm a little bit more adjusted now," Bosh said. "But before, you're going 100 mph and the brakes are slammed on and now you're not moving at all. It's definitely an adjustment, just being able to get used to things and finding that purpose that I think we all need to succeed and have good mental health. It's been a challenge. Things happen for a reason, I guess."
The TV gig, for now, is part-time.
The five kids at home, that's full-time. And they're used to having their dad at home when they arrive back from school in the afternoon, something Bosh — who is playing some basketball in workouts — has happily gotten used to as well.
"People are so concerned and I appreciate it, but I'm doing fine," Bosh said. "I'm very happy. I'm getting to do other things that I have never been able to do. I'm a beginner in a lot of things. But I've learned to like it, and just look at the nice new picture I have of the world."