Let’s get one thing straight right from the start; Andrew Bogut is tough as nails.
Bogut’s final piece of on-court action this NBA season, at the end of a road game in Portland on April 13, proved this beyond doubt.
With 3 seconds remaining in regulation and with the scores tied at 105, the Warriors needed one last stop to force the game into OT. They’d shown guts to fight back from an 11 point deficit earlier in the 4th quarter and now, with only seconds remaining on the clock, their big man was showing more ticker than anyone in an effort to extend the game for his team.
Bogut had suffered a fractured rib a few possessions earlier when he was sandwiched between Portland’s 6-11 LaMarcus Aldridge and 7-0 Robin Lopez during a rebounding contest. X-rays would later show that the broken rib was close to his lung, creating a serious risk of puncture.
Bogut was having trouble breathing and any movement was causing him severe pain.
Nonetheless, with 3 seconds remaining in regulation, the Warriors needed a stop in order to save the game and Bogut checked back in to ensure that the job got done. Clutching his pectoral area, he defended LMA off-the-ball and then tipped out the loose rebound as time ran out.
As his teammates made their way to the bench, Bogut keeled over on the court in an effort to reduce the excruciating pain in his chest.
Following that Portland game, with the X-ray results in hand, doctors ordered Bogut to immediately cease on-court activities until the fracture was healed. A punctured lung is no joke – it’s a potentially life-threatening injury - and the risk of puncture in Bogut’s case was significant. Attempting to play through the pain was not an option.
As a result, the Warriors were forced to play without their starting center for the final two games of the regular season as well as their entire first-round playoff series against the Clippers, which they lost in 7 games.
Amazingly, in the wake of this injury and Golden State’s first-round playoff exit, Bogut has had his toughness called into question in the public forum.
According to Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith had the following things to say regarding Bogut during the week:
The Tin Man? Andrew Bogus?
I don’t think so, Stephen A.
Bogut has had a string of hard-luck injuries over the course of his 9-year NBA career, injuries that have cost him significant time out of uniform and on the sidelines. But to suggest that Bogut – widely regarded as one of the league’s toughest players – lacks heart is absolutely outrageous.
When the news broke that the Warriors would be entering the Playoffs without Bogut, the over-riding response from media and fans was that the Dubs would find it difficult without Bogut’s defensive impact, hard-nosed approach and toughness.
Gerald Bourguet of hoopshabit.com wrote “not having a guy like Andrew Bogut on the floor is huge. Bogut brought attitude, toughness and screens so hard they’d make Bill Laimbeer proud.”
Zach Lowe from Grantland.com agreed. “It would appear the Warriors are done without Bogut’s rim protection, expert passing, and brutal screening,” Lowe wrote in his Playoffs Preview column.
That doesn’t sound much like a tin man to me.
Bogut’s extensive injury history is undeniable but each of his major injuries has been the result of a hugely unfortunate collision-type accident. From the frightening elbow/hand injury he suffered in April 2010 that cost him the remainder of his All-NBA breakout season to the nasty left ankle injury from 2012 and this latest broken rib, Bogut’s run with injuries has been more bad luck than bad management.
As James Park from Sheridanhoops.com wrote recently, these were “freak injuries that would devastate anyone and not just someone who is injury prone or ‘has no heart’.”
As for “continuously” being “a complete no show” this season, one wonders what the heck Smith was talking about when he uttered that nonsense.
Bogut played 67 games this year and finished the regular season ranked 6th in the NBA for blocked shots and tied for 10th in rebounding, despite the recently-fired Mark Jackson playing him only 26 minutes a game. Bogut had the second highest defensive rebounding percentage behind DeMarcus Cousins and the second best defensive rating in the league just behind Joakim Noah.
Imagine what he would’ve achieved had he ‘showed up’!
As you could imagine, Bogut was none too pleased with Stephen A. Smith’s comments the other day, responding on Twitter with a few choice words of his own:
I first encountered Andrew Bogut in late 2001 when, as a 17 year old kid, he came down and trained for a week with the Victoria Titans NBL team that I was a part of.
I can remember chatting with Brian Goorjian about Bogut at the time; discussing the massive future that potentially lay in front of him. Three things stood out about Bogut way back then; key attributes that have characterised him as a ball-player his entire NBA career. He was bloody tall, he was extremely skilled and he refused to take a single, tiny bit of shit from anyone.
Some of the vets on that team, big guys like Chris Anstey and Brett Wheeler, attempted to rattle Bogut with a few well laid ‘bows and bumps – something of a test to ensure that the young prospect had some ticker. The teenager didn’t take a backward step. Not for a moment.
It was obvious 13 years ago and it’s been obvious his entire career….. Andrew Bogut is tough as nails.
I’m therefore left with only one possible conclusion; if Bogut is the Tin Man then Stephen A. Smith must be the Scarecrow….