The unfortunate case of Andrew Bogut
By Alex Gordon
It’s been well documented that Andrew Bogut’s Cavaliers career lasted literally 58 seconds. The images of him holding his leg against the scorers table have been all over the internet. It was an injury that prompted many who follow the NBA to simply shake their heads and say “classic Bogut.”
He is widely considered to be one of the most injury-prone players in the league, but what’s so odd about this dubious distinction is that almost all of his significant injuries have been incidental. He really hasn’t suffered from any chronic injuries, which are usually the cause of a player not being able to stay on the court. This is a shame, because at his best, Bogut is an exceptional basketball player. Before this unfortunate string of injuries, he dominated in all the categories that most casual fans associate with a star. It’s easy to forget Bogut was a number one overall pick, and one that hardly ever struck anyone as a bust for the majority of his first few seasons.
Bogut is from Melbourne, Australia. The son of Croatian immigrants, Bogut grew up playing with Australian rules in football as well as basketball and tennis. He joined the Australian Institute of Sport when he was 15 years old, paving the way for the Dante Exums and Ben Simmons of the future. From there, he blossomed on the Australian and international stage. He parlayed a sparkling Youth FIBA tournament in 2003 into a scholarship at Utah State. He became the National Player of the Year at Utah in 2005 and declared for the NBA draft the year after.
Drafted by the Bucks, his first few years were really uneventful. He played 153 consecutive games before a minor foot injury that kept him out of the final 15 games of his sophomore season rally. The year 2009 is when the injuries started to appear. He missed all but 36 games due to a variety of injuries, at the most severe being a stress fracture in his back.
The freak injuries began in 2010 as Bogut made third team all NBA in his best all around statistical season. After awkwardly coming down after a dunk, Bogut landed hard on his right arm and proceeded to break his hand, sprain his wrist and dislocate his elbow all in one sequence.This ended the Bucks’ hopes for playoff success despite making it for the first time since Bogut’s rookie year.
After fracturing his ankle in 2012, Bogut was eventually traded to the Warriors for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown. The Warriors faithfully disliked the trade enough to boo owner Joe Lacob during Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement, but the trade would give Klay Thompson the ability to become the other splash brother, and the rest was history.
Bogut would become the perfect fifth starter for the Warriors during their first two championship runs. A great passer, defender, screener and rebounder, Bogut fit seamlessly alongside the high powered offensive weapons around him. He was kryptonite for any bruising center that the team might go up against, and always gave the team the option of going big when the situation called for it.
His Warriors incidental injuries were possibly more timely than with the Bucks. An elbow from Kenneth Faried in the first round of the 2013 playoffs doomed their chances against the Clippers in the second round. The most memorable was his sprained MCL in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last year when he landed awkwardly after contesting a JR Smith layup attempt.
People have suggested it might be his style of play that makes him prone to these injuries, but it seems to me that he is just always in the wrong place at the wrong time. However you slice it, they have somewhat stifled the career of a unique and talented player almost since he first entered the league.