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Chuck Hayes Cleared to Play: An Early Christmas Present

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Chuck Hayes #44  of the Houston Rockets makes a shot over Darius Songaila #9 and Emeka Okafor #50 of the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on January 2, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Bryant WestCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2011

Former Rockets' big man Chuck Hayes was cleared to play basketball by a Cleveland clinic early Thursday morning, resolving concerns about his heart and health that went far beyond the NBA game.

Hayes signed a four-year contract with the Sacramento Kings on December 9th, but concerns about his heart arose after his physical. On December 19th, the Kings voided his contract.

"This morning, in one of the most heartbreaking moments of my professional or personal life, Chuck Hayes was notified that he failed his physical exam with the Sacramento Kings," Kings General Manager Geoff Petrie said in a press statement.

But early Thursday morning, Hayes' agent released information that his client had underwent "a full day of exhaustive testing and exams" on Wednesday, according to CBS' Ken Berger.

On Thursday morning, doctors informed Hayes that "he does not have a heart problem" and that "their recommendation is that he can continue to play basketball without any concerns," the statement said.

"I am happy to say I have a healthy heart and have been cleared to play immediately," Hayes said. "I look forward to getting back on the court as soon as possible."

The Cleveland Clinic is one of the most renown in the cardiology department, and the news that Hayes has been cleared to play should be excellent news to any NBA fan.

Hayes, a six-year NBA veteran out of Kentucky, played his whole career in Houston before signing with Sacramento in early December. While he is a bit undersized at just 6'6", he is regarded as one of the league's better post defenders and one of its more determined players.

Boston forward Jeff Green similarly had his NBA season ended by heart issues, but the concern for Green and Hayes' health should go beyond sports.

Serious medical conditions are a fact of human life that transcends sports, but the fact that one of the more hardworking players in the league had been cleared to play is an early Christmas present to the league.

Hayes' preference is to re-sign with Sacramento, according to his agent, but he is also considering Houston, San Antonio and Minnesota.

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