A 35-year-old veteran who spent parts of his 11 NBA season in eight different cities, Keith Bogans is garnering plenty attention as by far the eldest statesman on Portland's Las Vegas Summer League roster.
In his only appearance for the summer Blazers so far, Bogans missed both his shots and committed four fouls in 15 minutes of action on Sunday. It's an understandable stat line considering he last played in the NBA as a member of the Celtics on Jan. 7, 2014 — shortly after he publicly expressed frustration to the always great Jessica Camerato over his limited minutes in Boston's lottery-bound youth movement.
“It’s tough. Game days are my toughest days. At least I’ll get in at practice. I can run up and down the court, play a little bit at practice. But, come on, you’ve been playing basketball for 10 years and just this year they just tell you you’re not playing? I’ve never not played in this league before. This is the first time ever. And it’s not like I’ve wandered into not playing. I’ve just not had the opportunity from day one. … I don’t mind cheering for my teammates. I love those guys, a great group of young guys. I love supporting them and cheering for them, but the fact that I’m not going to get in the game is tough.”
As our own Kelly Dwyer noted at the time, Bogans' decline in minutes should have come as no surprise, since he was cut from the Chicago Bulls in 2011 over a measly $1.73 million cap hit, played just five games the following season for the New Jersey Nets and saw increased playing time as a 32-year-old swingman in 2012-13 because of injuries to then Brooklyn teammates Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace.
Despite all that, Bogans received a partially guaranteed three-year, $16 million sign-and-trade contract simply to make the money match in Brooklyn's trade for Boston's Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. In essence, he was making twice his previous high in salary because he was in the right place at the right time. However, being paid $5.1 million in 2013-14 and being worth it are two different things.
Arriving in Boston with a reputation as a hardnosed 3-and-D swingman, Bogans initially took the same professional approach to playing for a rebuilding Celtics squad as Wallace and Kris Humphries, embracing leadership roles during training camp. But once the season began, the losses piled up and Bogans watched as Jordan Crawford started 35 games for those C's, he let his frustrations known.
A week later, on Jan. 14, 2014, the Celtics issued a statement.
The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Keith Bogans has been excused from the team indefinitely for personal reasons. Bogans remains under contract with the Celtics during this time.
And just like that a man who started every game for a 62-win Bulls team in 2011 had been transformed into the butt of a thousand "I wish someone would be pay me $5 million to go home" jokes. Adding insult to injury, longtime Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman shared this on a Boston radio station in 2014.
"My understanding of it was that there was a real dissatisfaction on Keith Bogans' part on the lack of playing time and who was playing and who wasn't playing, and there was what was described to me as an incident on the bus. Now, there's a team bus and a media bus; I ride on the media bus, so that's the only time I'm really separated from the group when I'm on the road, and that's the only understanding I have. There was an incident on the bus, and the Celtics took quick action to again I think support the fact that there's one guy in charge here, and it's Brad Stevens. It's not a democracy."
Celtics president Danny Ainge denied there was any one incident that led to Bogans' banishment, and the aging veteran remained mum from his Florida home. Either way, it was coach Brad Stevens' first season on an NBA bench, and the C's were already struggling to keep a young locker room in check.
So, the jokes never stopped, at least until September, when Boston sent Bogans' non-guaranteed deal to the Cavaliers, who in turn forwarded him onto the 76ers, creating trade exceptions along the way.
Ultimately, Philadelphia waived Bogans, and he sat out the entire 2014-15 season. Now attempting his comeback, Bogans once again found himself on the other end of Camerato's microphone.
"In this process, once I got traded to Cleveland, then I got traded to Philly, Philly doesn't tell me what's going on, so I basically sat at home for two weeks under contract with Philly, and then I get waived without knowing. So, I was kind of over it at that point."
And Bogans is seizing this opportunity in an attempt to clear the air, even taking a shot at Gorman.
"I'm known as a glue guy, and throughout my whole career — whatever team I went to — I was known to stick, and I've always had a great attitude. I've always been a team player. That's not what happened when I left Boston. I was told that I was angry, disgruntled, I mean the media came up with all types of stories, and that kind of put a damper on it, because that's not how I wanted my career to end. I mean, I hear that there was a quote from a radio guy in Boston who travels with the team. He said that I got into an altercation on the bus. That was a total lie. I never got into an altercation on the bus, and I just want to clear up that I don't feel like I did anything wrong. It was made like Boston sent me home and I was made to look like the bad guy, and that's not how I wanted my career to end."
Keep in mind Gorman forms the league's longest-tenured broadcast duo alongside Tommy Heinsohn and isn't known for speaking out of school on Celtics matters. In fact, Gorman's eyes are so green he picked Boston over Cleveland in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this April — in six games.
The Boston Herald also reported the disputed bus incident of 2014, and there's seems to be some confusion to this day about what exactly led to Bogans' ban. We'll let the Herald's Mark Murphy explain.
Bogans’ claim of not knowing a reason, however, runs counter to the team’s understanding. He also denies a reported incident during a team bus ride in which he loudly challenged Stevens.
“That was totally made up. I read that story,” he said of the bus incident, reported in the Herald. “Everything I read in the paper was a lie. It was left for ya’ll to speculate, say I blew up on the bus. That was all a lie, and it made me look bad in the rest of the NBA community. That’s not what happened.”
A team source, couching words, claimed that if such an incident occurred, it was not reported to management. But there appears to be little doubt that Bogans understood the reason for his exile.
“At least part of the idea was his,” said the source.
Regardless, Bogans is putting that chapter to bed and hoping to pen a new denouement to his NBA career, so we'll give him the last word from his most recent chat with Camerato in Las Vegas.
"One of the worst feelings in the world was playing in this league for 11 years straight and being sent home. I mean, I can't even explain the feeling of it. It was mind-boggling, because that's all I know is to wake up, go to practice. I mean, you saw me there. I'd be there early — the first one there, the last one to leave. I mean, that's just part of my lifestyle, and then to wake up and just have a free schedule, and everybody around you is talking about, 'Well, you got paid.' Well, the pay is good, but that's not what makes me happy. Playing this sport and being around this sport is what makes me happy."
If getting $5 million to sit at home is the worst feeling in the world, I'm looking forward to some bad times. Sorry, no more jokes. Best of luck to Keith Bogans in his search for NBA closure, whatever that may be.
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