April 3, 2010 is a sad day for me as a basketball fan.
Because on April 3, 2010 things one freak accident changed the career of a player that was quickly becoming second to only Ray Allen on my list of personal favorites.
Before that fateful day Andrew Bogut was doing everything he could to carry that special “Fear the Deer” mishmash of players to what looked like a potential first round playoff victory and the designation of a team people didn’t want to see in the playoffs.
Then everything changed.
Bogut slipped off a Milwaukee rim and came crashing down, destroying his right arm. Elbow, wrist, hand; everything was just a mangled mess.
Finally after another freak injury on March 13, 2012, this time to his ankle, put Bogut out of action, the Bucks decided it was time to move on, trading him to the Golden State Warriors for a package built around Monta Ellis.
It was move, universally questioned. How could the Bucks give up such a dominant inside force just because of a few freak injuries and pair their small, ball dominating, streaky-shooting point guard with a small, ball dominating, bad-shooting, two-guard?
Bogut can never stay healthy was the answer that was eventually settled on. The Bucks couldn’t trust him to do so.
Now, finally healthy again, Bogut is the dominant inside force on a running, gunning Warriors team capturing everyone’s imagination after dismantling the Denver Nuggets in a six-game series.
Bogut averaged 8.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and almost a steal a game in the series, capped off with a monstrous 14 point, 21 rebound, 3 assist, 4 block, 1 steal, 39 minute masterpiece in the series clincher.
The dominant defensive force, with a bit of a nasty streak and the incredible understanding of what every offensive player on the opposing team wants to do is back.
That “Fear the Deer” Bogut is back except this time he “Believes.”
The Bogut I wished would always be back has been back, and yet I can’t fully enjoy it. Because deep down the thought that as this was building, I was watching Monta Ellis ruin things in Milwaukee still lingers.
This run should have been ours.
Monta didn’t exactly help when he Monta’d things up as the Bucks got swept by the Heat; shooting 43% from the field, 16% from the three-point line and 36% from the free throw line in the series.
The differences in the way the two players affected their series couldn’t be more perfect.
Monta, missing shots from everywhere on the floor, yet never stopping those shots from going up, while Bogut scoring when he gets a chance but mostly stopping Denver from relentlessly attacking the rim and finishing; one guy preventing his own team from getting good shots and scoring, while the other prevented his opponent from doing the same.
Bogut wouldn’t have helped this Bucks team defeat Miami, and he probably wouldn’t have allowed LARRY SANDERS!, the bright point an otherwise bleak Bucks season, to develop into the force he has today.
But what if he had been healthy? What if the run these Warriors were on now was instead a magical run those 2010 Bucks went on led by the big Aussie?
They probably wouldn’t have beaten the two-seed Orlando Magic, just like these Warriors probably won’t beat the two seed-San Antonio Spurs.
But maybe with the excitement built around that run things would have been a bit different. Maybe Brandon Jennings never becomes Monta light, as Bogut possibly found a way to reel him in. Maybe then the Bucks would have been on the upswing instead of the perpetual battle for the eight seed we seem to now find ourselves in, despite not having many young players on that roster. In the end, maybe nothing would have changed outside of a series win against the Atlanta Hawks we ultimately took to seven games.
But I wish we got to find out.
This isn’t to say I am not enjoying what Bogut is doing, because I am.
The rim protection, the passing, the general nastiness; I love it. Bogut is showing flashes that the old dominant force we all saw is still there. Maybe he only will be able to unleash it for a few games a year. It isn’t the perfect situation but one I would enjoy just for those dominant moments.
But every time I start to smile as he does something good I can’t help but shake that feeling.
This should have been the 2010 “Fear the Deer” Milwaukee Bucks. This should have been that Andrew Bogut.
This should have been us.