Frye Comeback Shows A Lot Of Heart


VIDEO: Channing Frye talks about the challenges of his comeback

HANG TIME WEST – Of course he was nervous.

“There were some times,” Channing Frye said. “When I first came back, there were times when I was nervous.”

He had gone 557 days between games, from April 21, 2012, at Denver to Oct. 30, 2013, in Phoenix, not just his home arena as a Sun, but also his hometown. He had gone through a battery of tests just to be cleared for practice. He had missed an entire season at age 29, what should be the prime years for health, with dilated cardiomyopathy. An enlarged heart.

Damn right Frye was nervous.

And then he played. He immediately started for the Suns at power forward, the stretch four whose range was designed to create space in the offense. Understandably, he struggled with his timing and his shot, and didn’t worry. Frye initially worried whether he was supposed to be so tired after workouts and games and then remembered, yes, he was, in the healthiest of times as well, and he didn’t sweat that either.

Nothing had changed, and everything had changed. What on the surface is the comeback of old Channing Frye, a success story increasing by the day, is actually more like the early look at the new Frye, the one altered by having to contemplate serious health issues and forced to miss an entire season from the game he loves.

“It changed me for the better,” he said of the health scare. “I’m just a lot more relaxed about things. I’m more mature about things. I see the bigger picture. I’m a lot more appreciative of just everything. It’s like, you’ve got to see the bigger picture. We have an awesome job. This is my job, to go play basketball in front of 15,000 people every night. It’s awesome.”

The original scare of heart troubles at such a young age was replaced by a determination. The times when Frye wasn’t sure he would make it back to the NBA, when it took the encouragement of family and friends to stay positive, were replaced by a passion to play again. He decided, bottom line, he was not done with basketball yet and would not be driven from the game without at least a final try with the Suns.

Frye told himself, “F— this heart thing,” and then he told his wife. “F— this,” Channing remembers saying to Lauren. “I’m not going out like this.” He wouldn’t risk his life to play, but once doctors in several cities cleared Frye to return, once he successfully completed a battery of tests, once he got past the initial worry, he was in attack mode, not comeback mode.

This is about his heart, all right.

Frye has gone from considering retirement – “Pretty close. You had to think about it.” – to averaging 26.9 minutes, 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 43.9 percent overall and 37.3 percent behind the arc at age 30 as the feel-good story as part of an entire Suns team exceeding expectations.

“He went through all the doctors, he checked with all kinds of specialists,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “When it came down to them telling him he’s fine and he can play then I think we all just accepted the fact that he can play. I’m sure the trainers are on alert if something happens, but we have to go at it as if there’s nothing wrong and there’s no risks. Obviously if he felt there was a risk, he wouldn’t be playing.”

Plus, now he is playing well – Frye has scored at least 16 points in four of the last six games and has made at least half his 3s in the same four of six. He logged 41 minutes in Wednesday’s victory over the Trail Blazers that moved the Suns to 8-7, after playing 33 and 32 the previous two outings.

He is not as rusty as before. He is definitely not nervous.

“No,” the new, changed Frye said. “I’m too calm for that. There’s no anxiety about stuff. There’s no nothing. I just go out there and play. It is what it is. That nervousness, there’s no need for it.”

14 Comments

  1. Number 13 says:

    @idecris

    Frye split the first 4 years of his career between NYK and POR.

  2. idecris says:

    I’m very happy for Channing. I agree that he belongs in Phoenix. He’s that rare player who played all of his basketball career in one state (high school – college – professional league).

    Also true that Hornacek appears to be a very good “player’s” coach. He’s gotten the guys to get loose and they’re able to show what they can do. Everybody has played great at one point or another, Dragic, Bledsoe, PJ Tucker, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, Channing, the twins, … everybody is out there getting their chance and contributing.

    Exciting times for the Suns, they’re future looks bright. (GM’s also showing to be capable of shrewd moves too.)

  3. Unkle Daddy says:

    I wanna say that I was happy to see Frye back this season, I always liked his game because he is a big who can stretch the floor, but also tries to do more than just shoot threes all day like a lot of other stretch fours and fives. I’m glad to see him healthy I always hate to see players hurt or in bad health. The suns have never been my favorite team, but I have always rooted for them, keep the hard work up, see you guys in the playoffs.

  4. kellogs says:

    hell yeah I’m so happy for him! And Jeff Hornacek seems like a great coach too

  5. John says:

    Please get traded to the Lakers, Channing Frye. He’s a good shooter and he’d do well in D’Antoni’s sytem.

  6. PalmOil Preference says:

    With Shane Battier on his way out. Frye could be a nice replacement. Stretch forward to help space the floor and as far the defense, Lebron and the rest of his goons mask all.

    A lot respect and well wishes I send to Frye and Jeff Green for pushing through thier hear aliments.

    • Han says:

      I’m a Miami fan. But why everyone has to go to Miami? I love watching Frye, and I believe the best place for him is Phoenix, not Miami. You don’t abandon a team that helped you and waited you to recover, that’s what a good fellow like Frye will do. All the best to him

      • I salute you for being a non-pathetic heat fan…see the heat almost lost to a well coached spurs last year (if it wasn’t for ray allen’s 3) even if they were full of superstars! the spurs have who? parker (the only superstar) duncan and ginobili (both who are way past their prime and aging) kawhi who is just developing and danny green…and they almost lost to THAT team when they have lottery picks all over their roster? hahaha! and they also lost to the mavs who were basically with one superstar…those who say that terry and marion were superstars during that championship run are complete morons, marion bounced around the league from miami to toronto before landing with the mavs, and the mavs were basically shopping terry during that time…they just had the heart of the champion (tyson chandler) and they played as a team….I don’t think anyone saw that 2011 championship coming especially when they almost lost in the 1st round to the blazers…so yeah…dirk won it without the help of two other franchise caliber players unfortunately…sorry heat fans ;)

      • Krazziere1626 says:

        NIce one bro…

      • g2-9c56d62141475228997c9d25c0e2c62c says:

        Totally agree with you on that one Han…unlike DERRICK FISHER! :D (ps im a laker fan)

      • g2-9c56d62141475228997c9d25c0e2c62c says:

        Totally agree with you there Han! And Channing doesnt look like someone ungrateful.

      • PalmOil Preference says:

        No one ever said abandon the team just pure speculation. I know we all want a fairy tale ending but at the end of the day it’s business. As a non heat fan just considering the fact Shane is on his way out and the Suns youth movement it would make sense. There is a small chance Frye might not be wanted by the Suns next year thier is a new Sheriff in town over there. Whereever he goes wish him
        nothing but the best.

    • Unkle Daddy says:

      I used to be tired of Laker fans, now I’m tired of Miami “fans”. Can’t wait to see them lose this year, and then Lebron leaves and we’ll see who many fans they have next year…

      • ACES says:

        Why are you saying parker is the only superstar on the Spurs. Did you not watch Duncan last season. He was arguably the best big in the NBA. He was also All-NBA first team. People really like to make Parker look a lot better than he actually is. Parker is not the best PG in basketball people. He spends more time of the ball than most PGs in the NBA. The Spurs are a great spacing and pasing team which makes it alot easier for him to get his buckets as opposed to other talented PGs like steph, CP3 and Westbrook. CP3 is by far the best PG in basketball. If you can name me another superstar in the NBA who doesn’t have another playmaker on his team who has been as successful as he has; I will salute you. BTW I’m a Sixers fan and MCW/Noel/whoever we draft in 2014 will take over basketball, don’t kill me for that, I’m just a homer.