NBA Debate: Channing Frye Set to Return, Should the Suns Forward Risk Health to Play Basketball?

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By James Patrick Quizon | September 6, 2013 11:46 AM EST

An enlarged heart is not stopping Channing Frye from rejoining the team as soon as the doctors clear him. The Phoenix Suns forward got the good news Thursday night after he was cleared by the doctors for all basketball-related activities.

According to Paul Coro of azcentral sports, Frye has already returned to his family in Phoenix and is just waiting for the Suns front office’s go-signal to rejoin the team.

“I don’t have any fear. I’m not scared to push myself and run and play and get my heart rate up. I’m just waiting on the paperwork. I’m healthy. It’s out of my hands. It’s up to the Sun and what they feel comfortable doing,” said the 7-year pro, who missed the entirety of the 2012-2013 season because of heart enlargement caused by a virus.

Frye has two years left in his contract with the Phoenix that will pay him roughly $13.2M. Frye has also played for the Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks, who drafted him in 2005. His best season came in 2010-11 when he averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 77 games with the Suns.

In an article published in 2012, ESPN interviewed a Dr. Barry Maron, a cardiologist who has written 800 published articles on the issue and has tracked more than 2,500 cases of sudden cardiac death among young athletes.

"These are very unpredictable events. It is not uncommon for somebody to harbor something potentially lethally for a long time while playing at the highest level. Something triggers it. It’s not clear what,” said Maron to ESPN.

In 1990, Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers collapsed to the floor during an NCAA tournament game and died minutes after. Gathers suffered from a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a “condition in which the heart muscle becomes thick and the thickening can make it harder for blood to leave the heart, forcing it to work harder and to pump blood.”

Frye’s condition is entirely different as he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a “disease of the heart muscle, primarily affecting your heart’smain pumping chamber (left ventricle). The left ventricle becomes enlarged (dilated) and can’t pump blood to your body with as much force as a healthy heart can.

“I’ve been cleared by the numerous doctors I’ve seen. The whole process has been extremely detail-oriented on both sides, from my side and the Suns side,” said an assured and confident Frye.

Is Frye doing the right thing by returning to the NBA? How much of a health risk is his condition considering the daily grind of the NBA regular season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

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