We’ve seen it before, far too often, in fact, when an NBA player’s immediate future is suddenly derailed by an unpreventable condition.
And now, unfortunately, we’ve seen it again, as according to NBA.com, Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye is out indefinitely after developing a dilated cardiomyopathy, which is essentially an enlarged heart.
Accepting such circumstances is never easy, not for the player, not for the team and not for the fans. And the sad truth is, these types of ailments, the ones that force an athlete out of action and into a state of survival, have become all to prevalent in the NBA; this isn’t the first time a heart-related issue has forced a player’s hand, and it won’t be the last.
We remember Eddy Curry’s heart problems, which threatened to end his career. He returned, but never fully recovered. Or how about Cuttino Mobley, he was essentially forced into retirement because of a heart condition. Then, more recently of course, there’s Jeff Green of the Celtics, who was forced to sit out all of last season after having open heart surgery. Let’s not forget the sudden conditions of Chuck Hayes and Chris Wilcox either, both had scares of their own. Even Brandon Roy’s sudden—albeit temporary—retirement courtesy of a set of degenerative knees was tough to accept.
Now, he we are, approaching the start of the 2012-13 campaign, and Frye has become the latest athlete to fall victim to circumstances beyond his control. And there’s no other way describe it than to admit that it sucks. It just sucks. To see a young player like Frye, or any athlete for that matter, be forced to cope with such a serious condition that not only threatens the livelihood of his career, but his livelihood in general just sucks.
And that’s the brutal reality of the NBA. No, we cannot point to the rigors of the league and blame such conditions on it, because the fact is, for the most part, these are inherent defects that players are born with. Frye’s heart problems would have actualized regardless of his career path.
No, the brutal reality of this league is the fact that we, as spectators, analysts and critics, sometimes forget just how human professional athletes are. Sure, they make a lot of money, and there’s an innate tendency to put them up on a pedestal, but moving past social and economic status, they’re just like you and me, susceptible to the uncontrollable rigors life throws our way.
Frye, just like the rest of the NBA’s athletes, are human. They get sick, suffer injuries, incur pain and have to deal with unfortunate matters like death and diseases. It’s imperative that we never forget that.
And judging by the well-wishes mailbox where you can send some digital support Frye’s way, we haven’t.
That’s the silver lining of all this, the willingness to support an athlete, or anyone for that matter, as they battle serious obstacles. The fact that players, teams and fans alike can put their loyalties aside for the sake of humanity is inspiring; the fact that life at its worst can help convey humanity its best, is borderline comforting.
So, good luck Mr. Frye. Good luck on your recovery and inevitable return to the game. There are no words to express the unfortunate gravity of your circumstances, but attempt to take solace in knowing everyone is behind you, no matter where they’re basketball loyalties lie.
Because while the brutality of fate prevailed now, humanity and inspiration will take over as you battle your way back to the hardwood.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.