In 2006, things were pretty scary for NBA hearts. The Hawks' Jason Collier had recently died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, while a collection of players -- Fred Hoiberg, Robert Traylor and Ronny Turiaf among them-- needed heart surgery to avert dangerous conditions. In the midst of all that, a controversy erupted when young Bulls center Eddy Curry was found to have an irregular heartbeat. A DNA test might have revealed more, but he and his lawyers had little interest in setting a legal precedent of letting employers get in the habit of testing employees' genes for abnormalities -- the fear was employers might then be tempted to screen out or pay less to employees prone to any number of risk factors. It's a tricky issue.
Curry went to play for New York instead of hashing that out with the Bulls.
Several players expressed concern about invasive tests including Curry's new Knick teammate, young Knick big man Channing Frye, who told ESPN.com's Darren Rovell at the time:
I think it should be freedom of choice to have it done. Because if you want it done, that means you are going to want it known, that means you are liable for it. But more guys will say, "I just don't want to know" and I understand why they say that.
More guys have heart problems than what lead on. If they find out, how are you going to put food on your table, not only for you, but for your family, your uncles, your aunts, your grandma.
Meanwhile, in the wake of all that heart talk, the NBA made more stringent heart exams -- not DNA tests, but more invasive tests than had historically been done -- part of training camp for every NBA player. Some have protested, the NBA has countered that their heart tests have detected problems early and saved lives.
Including, perhaps, Frye's.
The tests he underwent in Suns training camp last fall detected the same condition that killed Collier. And instead of playing in the NBA this season, Frye has been abstaining from strenuous physical activity, spreading the word of heart health, and taking medication that will hopefully let him return to the court with a healed heart. Frye tells TrueHoop TV about his ordeal: