Andrew Bogut, entering what he hopes is his first full and injury-free year since his third season in the NBA, is still sick to death of people confusing him as “injury-prone” – “injury-prone” as opposed to “unlucky with injuries.” It’s true that somebody who continually finds themselves as too injured to play, or to close to a significant injury to play effectively, is technically “injury-prone,” and over the last few years Bogut falls under that category. Usually, though, we save that term for a player who repeatedly has to sit with a variation of the same injury – think someone’s dodgy knees, or a baseball pitcher’s elbow or shoulder woes.
No, Bogut has mainly had to sit out because of three significant setbacks, with two coming on freak plays. There was a back fracture in 2008-09, and then the frightening elbow injury that caused him to bow out of Milwaukee’s inspiring ‘Fear the Deer’ season far too early in the spring of 2010. That elbow injury severely hampered his shooting stroke in the years after, and then when Andrew finally seemed to be getting back on track in 2011-12, he suffered a broken ankle.
After a misdiagnosis, and a Warriors-influenced attempt to come back early, Bogut was a (still very effective) shadow of himself last season. Bogut is healthy and effusive as Golden State enters camp, and he wants fans to know the difference between his particular streak of bad luck, and the repeated setbacks that have happened to others that have been hit by the “injury-prone” label.
I’ve had a hard run with injury, everyone knows that. But these last two injuries, if you take them away from my career—take away two split-second moments out of my career, and the ‘injury-prone’ label’s gone.
One of them is getting a little shove in the back and coming off the rim, 10 feet high, and breaking my elbow.
And the other one is getting under-cut by Kyle Lowry after he shot a floater and falling on his ankle. Take those two split-seconds away, I’ve only really ever had one injury, which is a little back stress fracture.
Bogut’s bad luck extends to the years’ after those two flare-ups with Lowry in 2011-12 and then-Phoenix Sun Amar’e Stoudemire in 2010, which unfortunately clouds the view of many that half-heartedly follow him.
Because the elbow demolition messed with his shooting stroke, the carryover from that setback basically cost him most of 2010-11, even though Andrew played in 65 games. And because the Warriors dropped the ball in not telling their intelligent fan base that Bogut underwent microfracture surgery on his ankle, they left him open to criticism for not hurrying back to begin last season, six months after what Bogut calls “a 12-month injury.”
It’s true that we’ve gone over this before, with Bogut (rightfully) lashing out at critics who referred to him as “injury-prone” as “uneducated,” but it bears repeating. When fans just look at the raw amount of games missed, or the limited play on the court (in his talk with Kawakami Bogut admits that he was far too stationary for his own tastes last season, while he recovered from that 12-month injury) and ignore the context or the cause of the injury, then they willingly miss the point.
We wish they wouldn’t. At his best Bogut is one of this league’s great defenders (as we saw in playoff stretches last season, even on one leg), and a terrific offensive performer in spite of issues with that elbow. His passing and screening will be a huge part of Golden State’s perimeter-based makeup in 2013-14, and the team hopes that his ability to cover ground defensively for most of (as opposed to parts of) the season could be the turning point between a second round surprise, and possible NBA Finalist.
First, fans have to know where Bogut is coming from. He’s coming from the floor, technically, after being knocked down twice. He’s back up, though, in shape and giddy at the prospects for a full and healthy year with a great team that he enjoys playing with.
If everything goes according to plan, and the odds straighten out as they should, we can’t wait for that “injury prone” tag to fall by the wayside, once and for all.