On Thursday, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic broke a bit of news that was equally unfortunate and promising. Per Coro, Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye will miss the 2012-13 season due to an enlarged heart caused by a rare condition—the latest in an oddly prevalent series of heart-related diagnoses in the NBA, and a good catch by the Suns' medical staff.
For Frye and the Suns, this injury likely comes as a complete surprise.
Lingering knee pain suggests the possible need for eventual surgery. Back spasms point to a problem much greater than a mere symptom. But heart complications have a tendency to come without warning, and naturally warrant the full attention of player, team and doctors.
One doesn't play through an enlarged heart, or ignore the initial warnings in hope that the condition goes away. The potential for gambling doesn't even register on cardiac issues, and Frye's absence from the Suns lineup this season is likely the only possible course of action in a case that's categorically open-and-shut.
And regardless of how unfortunate that may be in a player-and-team-specific sense, the fact that more players are being diagnosed with heart-related ailments is actually an unequivocally good thing. The time away from the court is long and the cost to specific franchises or careers can theoretically be great. But once that most vital organ becomes a part of an injury report, the matter transcends sports.
Frye's ailment isn't a mere ACL tear; it could potentially have a huge impact on the way he goes about living his life both on and off the court.
Complications with that single muscle could disrupt the tempo of his very existence, and though for a moment—based on the limited information available—Frye doesn't appear to be in any serious danger, it's best for everyone if his career takes a pause for the sake of a close watch on his health.
In the past year, Frye, Chuck Hayes, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green have all been sidelined for entire seasons based on heart-related issues. It would be best to see each of those players healthy and on the court, but a heightened rate of detection on heart-related symptoms comes as a worthy consolation prize.
Any industry predicated on such a high level of physical activity is done right by as detailed a medical analysis as is prudent and possible, for the sake of players, the teams that rely on them and the fans that cherish them.