This court is now in session. First case on the docket is Chris Bosh vs.the Miami Heat.
Mr. Bosh, who has decided to represent himself, is charging the Heat with cruel and unusual treatment of an athlete to whom they owe $76 million, whether or not he ever plays for them again.
The team, represented by president Pat Riley, counters that it is putting Bosh’s interests ahead of its own, thereby setting a precedent in pro sports for kind and compassionate treatment of an athlete.
His last two seasons were cut short by blood clots and Mr. Bosh failed his physical prior to training camp last month, leading Mr. Riley to state recently that the 11-time All-Star’s career in Miami is probably over. Mr. Bosh says he can still play with the condition and has found a doctor to back him up.
Mr. Bosh, your opening statement, please.
BOSH: Thank you your honor. Ladies and gentlemen, I know the risks involved in playing with blood clots and playing while taking blood-thinning medication. A clot during a game could lead to a graphic, on-court incident. Physical contact while on blood thinners could lead to internal bleeding. I get it. But I’m a full-grown man willing to sign a waiver. The risk is mine and the decision should be mine, too. I ask that you agree and condemn the Heat for treating me like a child.
RILEY: This is a simple case of our franchise looking out for Chris. We love him and consider him part of our family. We also love his wife and their five children. They’re more important than NBA titles and double-doubles. Our doctors – and others we’ve consulted – don’t believe there’s a way for Chris to continue his career safely. He has been a tremendous asset to our team and our community, and we’ll cherish the memories, but it would be unethical to let him suit up again.
BOSH: Give me a break. They’re not scared that something might happen to me. They’re afraid I’ll be limited and might miss some time here and there. Instead of working with me as I battle this condition, they’d rather write me off, get a medical exemption, remove me from the salary cap and pursue big-time free agents with the savings. This is still a cold, hard business, no matter how much they try to appear warm and fuzzy.
RILEY: We’re sentimental but we’re not stupid. Of course we need to consider the team in moving forward. Otherwise we’d cut him outright and make a clean break, instead of keeping him on the roster until February, when we get salary-cap relief and the insurance kicks in to cover most of his remaining salary. I didn’t get this far in the NBA through slick hair and Arrmani suits alone. And this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this situation; remember, I was the Lakers’ coach when Magic retired due to HIV.
BOSH: Well, I don’t have a communicable disease. There’s no good reason to keep me off the court. It’s not like I’m asking permission for extreme activities like bungee jumping, wingsuit flying or cliff diving. I’m not trying to drive a car 200 miles per hour around an oval track with padded concrete walls. I just want to play basketball. There are 29 other teams if the Heat don’t want me, but there’s no place like Miami. Have you watched my documentary series on LeBron’s Uninterrupted website?
RILEY: I can’t speak for other teams and whether they’d be interested in signing him, but we have to move on. Chris was a big part of the Big Three and helped us win two championships. We wish his health wasn’t an issue. It’s sad, but it’s time for him to join LeBron and Dwyane Wade as former members of the Heat. For his sake and the sake of his family, I wish he’d hang it up and get ready for his Hall of Fame induction. He has nothing left to prove and he’s got $76 million coming. He should enjoy it.
OK, this court has heard enough.
Clearly, both parties have a point. If Mr. Bosh is willing to continue his career without holding the Heat liable for any medical conditions that might arise, it’s perfectly understandable why he’s upset that the team is dumping him.
On the other hand, if Mr. Riley truly believes doctors who claim the health risks are too great, keeping the player off the court – or at least off Miami’s court – is a reasonable response, regardless of the accompanying salary cap benefits.
But, ultimately, teams employ players on an “at-will” basis. The Heat can cut/bench Bosh for any reason, or none whatsoever. The motivation in this case – whether it’s his well-being or team finances – is irrelevant.
Therefore, we find the Heat not guilty. Mr. Bosh is free to pursue his career with another team, but it’s our desire that he begin the next phase of his life – off the court.
This case is over and we’re adjourned.