TORONTO -- It was in Toronto during a frigid All-Star Weekend where Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat first learned he had a medical issue that would end up sidelining him for the rest of the season. And it was in Toronto on Sunday where their season ended, bringing the pending outcome of an unfortunate situation to the organization's forefront.
Between now and this fall, Bosh and the Heat are going to have to reach a decision about what to do about his future. And there may end up being a complex and gut-wrenching disconnect between heart and mind.
There is a fear within the Heat organization that Bosh's condition will prevent him from ever being cleared to play by team doctors, several sources said. It's a result of exhaustive consultations with specialists. Something this big and delicate, the sides have gone deep attempting to understand all the options.
It's forced everyone to confront the possibility of Bosh ultimately being forced into a medical retirement.
"I feel very badly for CB because I know how much this game means to him," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday after his team's Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors. "I think everybody knows how much CB means to me."
Spoelstra was not speaking directly about Bosh's future. But his sentiments expressed the gravity of the situation that has hung over the Heat like a dark cloud since winter.
This is an unpleasant reality the sides have wrestled with for months while trying to focus on the team. But league rules and the Heat's situation may end up causing it to come to a head as the Heat enter the summer needing to make roster plans.
Such as, do the Heat need to spend some of their $40 million in cap space on signing a center to be their starter in place of Bosh long term. A player like now-free agent Hassan Whiteside, for example.
Neither the Heat nor Bosh have announced the nature of his medical condition.
Two weeks ago, after months of silence, they released a joint statement that read: "The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible."
Hopeful, but purposefully vague and without promise.
Bosh wants to return to play, this is clear. The Heat would love to have Bosh back, this is clear. Miami's position has been one of protecting Bosh, both medically and with the public as their silence has been at Bosh's direction.
But there's also this reality: The Heat have had two seasons derailed because of Bosh's medical issues. If their doctors don't think he can be cleared to play, the team has to protect itself from having the turn of events affect not only Bosh's personal health but also the health of the team.
Bosh last played Feb. 9. According to league rules, if he does not play again by Feb. 9, 2017, an independent doctor approved by the Heat and the player's union can review Bosh's case and give a recommendation to the league. If the doctor doesn't believe Bosh can continue his career, the Heat can take the 11-time All-star's contract off their books for salary cap purposes.
Bosh is owed $75 million over the next three years. He would receive all the money. Miami would receive some savings via an insurance policy, but would not do this to save money. If it was up to the Heat, a healthy Bosh would be playing for them every night.
This would allow the organization to replace Bosh when his contract hypothetically comes off in the summer of 2017.
It's a terrible situation to be in, but one the Heat have to responsibly investigate with Bosh as the summer unfolds.
If Bosh were to be cleared by Heat doctors and he had a recurrence of his condition, it would not only be potentially life-threatening but also reset the clock on the yearlong medical retirement process. Already, this appears like it may negatively impact three seasons and another setback could make it worse, not to mention the unthinkable issue of Bosh's health possibly being at risk.
For now, everyone will cool off and get some distance. There is time for reflection and further investigation. The player's union is already involved. The league office is as well. This is beyond unique for reasons both known and private.
No one is happy about it, it has rotten all around.
But the bottom line is that while the Heat hope for the best, a front office known for its long-term planning and execution is fully preparing itself for the worst. It has to, it's part of the job.