Almost two weeks ago, the Phoenix Suns Channing Frye let his fans know that his latest test results were coming back soon. "it is, or it isn't", he tweeted. Then he followed it up a week later with an instagram pic of him pumping his fist with a #YES caption.
Now, Channing Frye reveals to Bright Side of the Sun's Kris Habbas exactly what those cryptic messages meant, and how close he is to returning to the Suns.
"I've been cleared by the numerous doctors I've seen," Frye said on on Tuesday for this week's podcast. "This whole process has been extremely detail-oriented on both sides - from my side and the Suns side. We both want to do what's best. I went across country to see the best doctors I could all to make sure they all agreed that I was healthy, that I could do this."
Just a year ago, the prognosis sounded naive.
The Phoenix Suns held a press conference on Friday after the reports regarding Channing Frye's enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy) were made public. Now that the initial shock has worn off, the prognosis from the Suns seems to be more sanguine that saturnine.
"There is a very real chance that he could return to normal function and a normal lifestyle and that's what we all need to be hopeful for," said team cardiologist Tim Byrne. When asked if he thought the chance was better than not he responded, "Yes. The chance is better than not."
Frye will be reevaluated in December.
What was painted as a hopeful outcome last year may just be coming to fruition after all.
"When it comes down to it, my health is #1," Frye says now. "I said [to the doctors last month] I'm just here to get a prognosis from you on my health, and they gave me the okay.
"Right now I'm excited, but still patient in giving the Suns the information and letting their people go through it. As far as I'm concerned, I'm 100% healthy for any professional athlete. Right now I think it's just, let [the Suns] assess the information and go from there."
That's not all the good news. Frye has been exercising for two months now, and his heart is better than ever. Last we heard anything of substance, Frye was still restricted to yoga, golf and playing with his kids while doctors waited for his heart to return to normal size. Apparently, that information was only as recent as early summer.
New Suns GM Ryan McDonough commented in July that the latest tests were positive and that the Suns were optimistic Frye could return next season. At that time, Frye was apparently cleared to resume exercising, so the doctors could monitor his progress and see how his heart reacted.
Those results just came back in the last week or so.
"I saw [the doctors] earlier this summer and they said 'you're good', and that I could start to exercise," Frye recalls. "Saw them a couple months later and 'You're better than what you were'. Not only one doctor, but three other ones, maybe four other ones agree with me.
"Now its in the Suns hands."
With training camp starting in just a few weeks, the Suns will have to decide soon on their next step with Frye. Of course, each party is doing what's best for them.
"[The Suns] have to do what they have to do to make the team what they want to make this season," Frye said. "For me, I'm doing what you guys ask me to do, and being professional. I can be an example of doing things the right way and whatever happens, happens. It's been very professional. I just want to get out there and play and do the best I can to help us win."
Whatever happens, happens. Frye knows that his health is most important, and that returning to the NBA comes in a distant second.
"There's so many things I didn't take into consideration before that I do now," he explained. "That's going to help me not only for the rest of my career but also for the rest of my life. It's really been about trying to watch what you eat. Do you sleep with a cell phone next to you? Do you use an earpiece? What kind of coffee are you drinking?
"How can I be the best Channing for my family and #2 was how can I be the best Channing to play ball. My family always came first. There's no decision that would have been made that came before that."
Recently, reports have surfaced that the Suns would announce Frye's status for the season in the coming weeks. There doesn't appear to be any reason to keep Frye off the court next year, so you can probably expect the best news possible.
But that doesn't mean Frye is going to try to play big minutes, if any minutes, right away.
"I don't really have a timeline," Frye said. "I just want to make sure I'm comfortable. I'm going to play it like Derrick Rose. I'm not going to put myself out there until I feel like I'm the best.
"However long it takes is however long it takes."
But he's a competitive person, and he's already mentally putting himself into the Suns lineup and locker room.
"What I can bring is to just set a good example for the young guys," he said. "To show them this is how hard you have to work every day to win. You can't just lift the first month of the year, you gotta lift every month of the year. You can't just shoot when you're not shooting well, you gotta shoot every day. You have to be a robot. That was the thing that made all the great players great, they were consistently hard workers."
Frye goes on to say, " We're gonna be fun. With this type of team, you just gotta have fun. We have to have fun by working hard."
Check out the podcast coming Wednesday for more on what Channing learned this past year about himself, the fans and the sport of basketball, and how different he sees Victor Oladipo from so many other young players in the league these days. And much, much more.
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