Andrew Bogut will probably miss the remainder of the 2011-12 season as he recovers from a fractured ankle. He missed over half of the 2008-09 season with a fracture in his back. He missed the end of the 2009-10 season due to a horrific right arm and shoulder injury, the recovery of which clearly marred his otherwise-healthy 2010-11 season. Partially as a result of all this missed time, Bogut was recently traded to the Golden State Warriors in a move a goodly chunk of the team's fan base was not happy with, despite Bogut's sterling credentials (or, at least, "potential") as a game-changing, defensive-minded big man with myriad skills.
Stuck on the sidelines, again, Bogut is acting defensive-minded as he responds to the claim that he's "injury-prone," a semantics-driven argument that has dogged him for years. In talking with 95.7 The Game in San Francisco with The Drive, Bogut got rightfully (and respectfully) chippy with his detractors. Our mates at Sports Radio Interviews were kind enough to transcribe the interview, and relay the goodness:
"A little bit, but that's pro sports. We're paid to play and obviously when you're not playing you're going to receive some negativity and that's part of the business. What I would say is I've only had one injury in my NBA career that was probably was because my core wasn't strong enough, when I had a stress fracture in my back. … The last two injuries, I can't control falling on my arm and breaking everything in my right arm. And I can't control having a good defensive quarter in Houston … and falling on a foot. If you call that chronic, it's pretty uneducated in my opinion. But the reality is I have been hurt, so I need to try and, I don't know, maybe see a witch doctor in the offseason to get that bug away from me."
He's not wrong. Though, technically, Bogut is injury prone.
He's been prone to injuries throughout his career. But there's a difference between what he's gone through, and what someone like Brandon Roy has had to deal with as he attempted to overcome knee concerns. Bogut has been injured all over his body, and outside of not being "strong enough" (his words) to withstand the beating that hurt his back three years ago, his last two missteps have been unlucky, more than anything. Could have happened to Cal Ripken Jr., you know, because Cal can dunk (and fall off a rim and mangle his arm), and Cal could have an unfortunate mix-up with Samuel Dalembert.
Zach Lowe went into this in great detail when Bogut fell against Houston earlier this season, and his take on the situation remains a must-read. With that in place, though, and Bogut's move to California at hand, two things need to be brought to the attention of the few otherwise unaware Warrior fans that might be expecting Bogut to break down any second.
First, he's not Bill Walton.
Bogut isn't injuring himself in the same place, each time. There's nothing that suggests that he'll fall off a rim and destroy his arm again, or that he'll get tripped up in the paint against Houston. There are no stress fractures, and no back woes to freak out over. His knees have withstood the wear and tear, and everything appears to check out. This is not someone whose minutes you have to watch, or someone to worry about if he's on the court too late in a blowout loss win. By the time the 2012-13 season starts, he'll have about 11 months worth of rest on his hands.
Secondly, he might not be Andrew Bogut anymore.
We will happily toss out all of Bogut's 2010-11 return, when his offense dipped significantly as he clearly struggled to overcome his arm and shoulder issues. And we should mindfully toss out his 12-game run during this lockout-shortened season, playing early in a season (when stats are always far removed from where they end up) with little training camp to help players get into tip-top NBA shape. Yes, that's dismissing 77 games of NBA basketball just because we want to be cheery about things, but it's a fair take until we can see Andrew perform in a more orthodox setting.
We're right to wonder, though, if he'll return to that 2009-10 level of near-dominance. This guy was killing teams defensively, helping on offense, and it's OK to discuss whether or not that arm injury will derail his career, if only slightly. A dip in production means the difference between that rarest of things -- an All-Star level 7-footer -- and just another pretty good guy making franchise player money. That's significant, if we can be cold about it, and it's something we're just not going to be able to sign on or off until Andrew gets a few months in Golden State under his belt.
Long one of our favorite players, we're rooting for him. And because Golden State's fan base is so loyal, so fervent, and so knowledgeable, this pairing would pay off doubly. Both have been let down in ways that they haven't deserved.