Chris Bosh makes court return after long recovery from blood clots

MIAMI -- If Chris Bosh was nervous in his first game back in a Miami Heat uniform after recovering from career-threatening blood clots in his lung, not even his teammates could tell Sunday night.

Bosh made his first three shots, scored a team-high 14 points and delivered a between-the-legs bounce pass to Dwyane Wade for a score during the highlight moment of the Heat's 90-77 preseason-opening loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

"It was normal -- back doing my job," Bosh said. "I understand everybody's [wondering], 'How did it feel like? What was it really like to finally play?' If you put a fish back in the water, it's going to swim. Nothing was taken away from me. I've only gained."

Bosh tried to downplay the significance of his return, but the moment was anything but business as usual for the Heat. Bosh, 31, was cheered at AmericanAirlines Arena when his face was shown on the big screen during the national anthem. He also drew a loud ovation when he was introduced before the game, which was the first time he played on Miami's home court since a Feb. 9 win against New York.

A week later, during the All-Star break, Bosh was hospitalized for nine days to treat blood clots that had traveled to his lung, as well as an infection that left fluid backed up in his chest. He was placed on blood thinners and missed the Heat's final 30 games of the season.

After enduring six months of rehab and a week of training camp, Bosh was back in his familiar No. 1 jersey. He played 23 minutes and also finished with a team-high seven rebounds for the Heat, who hope to rebound from last season's 37-45 finish that left them out of the playoffs after four straight trips to the NBA Finals.

"You really have to take these moments and just be grateful for him -- not take him for granted, not be so wrapped up in your business that you can't appreciate how awesome that is," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Bosh's return. "Where he was when I saw him in the hospital bed last February, and then to get him out there right now -- he looked great."

Bosh, a 10-time All-Star in his 13th season, was in the midst of his best statistical season with the Heat when the clots, which were initially the result of a calf bruise he suffered in December, were discovered. Bosh said doctors have told him he doesn't carry the genetic traits that would make him a likely candidate for a recurrence of clots.

The Heat are hopeful that a healthy Bosh can help the team get back to being one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. Just having him back on the court Sunday was an encouraging start.

"The biggest thing is to see him like he never left," Wade said. "I asked him if he was nervous before the game, and he told me that he was just excited. You never miss stuff until it is gone, and he missed it a lot. We were all happy that he got an opportunity to go out there and play the game he loves."