Chris Bosh returned to the AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday for a nearly 30-minute press conference with local media to discuss his progress as he gets set to officially rejoin his teammates out on the court.
Just days before next Monday's scheduled Media Day at the arena and the start of training camp the following day at Florida Atlantic University, Bosh confirmed he's been medically cleared to play basketball, is off blood thinners, and has learned a lot from his time away from the sport.
"I'm happy to be back in the public eye and in a basketball capacity," Bosh said in his opening remarks. "I'm happy to be doing what I was born to do. The practices have went well and I've had an incredible summer with my family, I spent a lot of time with them.
After he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs earlier this year that ended his season, Bosh spent nine days in bed at a local hospital but was still able to catch Heat games using his iPad. Once he was healthy enough to rejoin the team on the sidelines late in the season, the experience gave him a fresh start mentally and an almost entirely new frame of reference of the game he had played almost his entire life.
"I've gotten a chance to look at basketball through a lot of different angles and perspectives," he said. "When I had the opportunity to sit on the bench during the home games, I saw so many different things that I never get to see. I heard the coaches talking and I heard the teammates talking. I was sitting at the end of the bench, I would sit in the middle, sit at the front, I looked at the stands and the other team. I was able to really take in different aspects of the game while the game was going on. It was amazing just to be able to do that.
"I know that it's a very tough job and it's tough on all sides but it's give me a chance to be more emphatic towards people in other positions and I'm trying to understand that as I move forward. I look at basketball as a fan and I got to look at the Finals and look at somebody else going through the grinder for a chance. It was quite fascinating."
Bosh will take the necessary precautions during the season to avoid any recurrence of blood clots by making sure he keeps his blood pumping throughout his body after games and staying active during long flights. He also reported he does not have the hereditary gene that would put him at risk for a recurrence.
The All-Star forward made his appearance on behalf of Janssen Pharmaceuticals in part to help spread the word about what he went through and to raise awareness about the symptoms and treatment of blood clots.
"That's the most important thing about that is it affects so many people," he said, "I'm sure we all in this room know somebody in our lives that had issues with blood clots. By visiting treatmyclot.com, you can educate yourself. I don't want someone to lose their life or go through what I went through."
As he took his initial steps back to the court, Bosh noted the team last season could have used more team camaraderie in the face of so many setbacks. To that end, he helped organize offseason workouts in Los Angeles last month to address that for this season.
"I think one thing that last season taught me is that camaraderie is very important," he said. "I think we all could have worked a lot harder in that aspect. That's something that you have to work at, I learned that. We all assumed that it was just going to happen and we were all going to get together. Those are the things that you remember outside of basketball and of course we have our games and we have our moments but we spend a lot more time off the court together.
"I just wanted to do something cool. I thought that L.A. is a great place, it's a little bit of a change of pace and everybody was going to L.A. this summer so it wasn't that original. But just to be able to see guys, talk to them, get some work in, see the coaches and kind of just hang out and start to build that camaraderie. Everybody just sees the champ hold up the trophy in June and that's all they see. They don't see the camps in July, the dinners in August and training camp in August. That's a very, very important part so I just wanted to start to build the foundation moving forward for this team."
Bosh says he's at around 240 to 245 pounds but knows he'll be losing some of that extra weight leading up to training camp so he can be at an ideal weight once the season begins.
The time off and the extra long offseason allowed him to work on his game in ways he couldn't have before.
"One thing I learned is I'm not getting out of shape again ever in life because I'm a little older so it's hard getting back on the horse," he said. "I had aches and pains I didn't know I could have. Just going from that it was quite a building process, it was a slow build and it took some time. Once I started to get to where I wanted to go, I'm like,'Okay, let me add things to my game and not get out of shape and just continue to really have an appreciation for the game.'
"I was at the gym four to five days out of the week and I took it very seriously. I feel a little bit of urgency. I don't have much longer to play this game. That's just a fact so I wanted to make sure I had the ability to hit the ground running when the season starts. I took advantage of the time that I had and I used it wisely."
The passion for the game also returned as he worked his way back into game shape.
"I have the opportunity to go back out there and give passion back to the game because I think I was lacking a little bit of passion for a while," he said.