Bogut downplays injury concerns, relishes fresh start with Warriors
Andrew Bogut's Warriors debut is on hold as he recovers from a broken ankle
Bogut has missed a lot of time in recent years, but he says he's been unlucky
The center described his departure from Milwaukee as a 'civil, mutual divorce'
OAKLAND, Calif. -- His game can't do the talking just yet, what with the walking boot holding him back and all.
Andrew Bogut is still on the shelf, still in perpetual rehab, still hopeful that the injuries that have tainted his career will end at some point and that he can assume his new role as savior of a long-failing franchise. But a broken left ankle has put his Golden State debut on hold until next season -- along with casting doubt about his availability to play for Australia at the Summer Olympics -- and the tortured fans who were so incensed to see shooting guard Monta Ellis go in the March 14 trade for the 27-year-old center need help in understanding why this is such a good idea. So Bogut, who was more than happy to leave Milwaukee and all those years of misfortune behind, is doing his talking the old-fashioned way.
Time will tell if Bogut can be an actual star in a Warriors uniform, but he has been a media star of late. Hour-long segments on local radio stations, 90-minute sit-downs with the local newspaper, phone interviews whenever needed in an attempt to engage and perhaps educate the unsatisfied masses. One playoff appearance in the last 17 seasons means that the Warriors' faithful doesn't have much faith left, and Bogut is well aware that the boos that rained down on owner Joe Lacob at Oracle Arena on March 19 were partly because of the deal that brought him here.
In an interview with SI.com at the team's practice facility Monday, Bogut challenged the notion that he's injury-prone, talked about being criticized while playing hurt, explained why it was time to part ways with the Bucks and analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of his new team.
SI.com: How did you hear about the trade?
Bogut: I saw it pop up on Twitter, and called my agent and said, "Is it true?" And he said, "It's 90 percent [done]. I didn't want to call you until it was approved by the league." That's just the way it is with social media. It's so instant and so quick, it goes viral.
SI.com: How has this whole whirlwind been for you? You're familiar with hype from having been a former No. 1 pick. But this is a team where the fan base has been dying for a winner for a long time and you just got thrown on that hot seat in terms of being the guy. What has it been like?
Bogut: Well, first of all, it's a fresh start for me. These days, to be seven years in one spot in any pro sport is a pretty long tenure. But it has been a whirlwind. I got the call Tuesday night, packed my bags Wednesday morning, was here Wednesday night, went through all the physicals and have been here ever since.
I know NBA history pretty well, so I know a lot about the [Chris] Mullin, [Tim] Hardaway era -- Run TMC with Mitch Richmond and so on. I was a kid during all that. Obviously, I didn't know the history to the point of one playoff appearance in I think it's 16 or 17 years. That was all brought to my attention. I know Monta was a fan favorite, so a lot of people were disappointed to see him go. But in this league, I know you've got to give up something to get something, so hopefully I can be that guy to help us get back to the playoffs.
SI.com: Any part of you relishing the chance to show these fans why it was a good move?
Bogut: The most frustrating thing about all this hype and how people are getting excited -- saying, "We finally got a big guy" -- is I'm stuck in a boot and I can't play. It's frustrating, but it's part of pro sports and I've got to stay positive with it, to prove myself once the timing is right.
SI.com: What's your day to day like right now? You've tweeted a couple of times about how beautiful the team's practice facility is, so you're obviously spending a lot of time there.
Bogut: Ah, it's beautiful. It's a phenomenal facility. I haven't seen an NBA facility like this on the road or at home. You have three full-size courts, obviously they've renovated a lot of the stuff inside -- just everything. From the bathrooms to the shower facilities, the hot tubs, cold tubs, training room, everything about it. The first thing I said when I walked in was, "Wow."
My day to day is pretty simple. I do weight training four times a week. On my off days, I do core. I ride the bike about 40 minutes a day, so I'm starting to feel like Lance Armstrong. The trainers are killing me on that bike. And then I do about an hour of treatment, mobilization, soft tissue, a lot of ice. It doesn't stop there. When I go back to my room, I go eat lunch and then ice again. I usually ice another three or four times during the day. And that's basically what I'm doing all day.
SI.com: I've heard you talk about how if you come back too early, or maybe even try to play in the Olympics, that your ankle could get much worse. Should Warriors fans be concerned?
Bogut: I'll be ready by October. That's a certainty. The problem right now is not rushing back, and that's why the decision was made that I'm probably not going to play this season. The one thing after that is obviously the Olympics, but if I rush back from this injury and I'm 90 percent, 95 percent, it increases the chance of that bone fracture actually becoming a break. Then I'd have all kinds of issues that would lead to a major surgery, and there's no point trying to risk getting into that. That's why I've been in the boot probably a little longer than I should. It's almost eight weeks and they said eight weeks in the boot, and they're probably going to actually make me go 10 because they want to make sure that it's healing.
SI.com: You've been sidelined a lot because of injury in your seven years. How tough has it been mentally?
Bogut: Yeah, it's tough, but it's part of sports. I've had two unlucky injuries that are the equivalent of walking under 1,000 ladders and seeing 1,000 black cats. The arm injury [sustained on April 3, 2010], first and foremost, was a split-second thing that you can't control. You're in the air, you get a little push, couldn't hang on to the rim. And then this one, I fall on someone's foot, had gone up pretty hard to block a shot.
It's frustrating, because I look back and say, "What could I have done differently? Nothing." There's nothing I could've done differently in the weight room over the summer, there's nothing I could've done conditioning-wise to save those two injuries. The only injury I've ever had that was due to a lack of strength in my core was the stress fracture [in his back in February 2009], but that could even be looked at as an overuse. I came from an NBA season to an Olympics to an NBA season. These aren't chronic injuries. That's the most frustrating thing. For the people on the outside looking in, they say, "Oh, he's missed this many games and he's injury-prone." That's a stigma I have. I'll deal with it. I'm not too worried about it, because I know how I play when I'm out there and all my injuries are play-hard injuries.
SI.com: What toll did the injuries take on your relationship with the Bucks? They use the No. 1 pick on you and, as hard as it was for you, there's obviously the other side of it where their centerpiece wasn't available nearly as often as they'd hoped. It seemed like maybe both parties were just ready to move on.
Bogut: Well, the one thing I would say is that I came off an arm surgery when I hurt my elbow, and came back [for the 2010-11 season] and we still didn't sign a backup big [man]. We let Kurt Thomas walk, and he had a great year for us. I can definitely question the way things were ran there, too, but I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty. But I would've liked to have had a backup big. We haven't had a backup big man [in Milwaukee] probably since Jamaal Magloire was there [in 2005-06]. And to be fair, we've had [power forwards] who play the [center spot], so that's frustrating.
Obviously, [his injuries] take a toll on the franchise, too. There's no doubt about it. That's why I think it was like a civil, mutual divorce, where both parties are still friends. I've still got a lot of ties with people who work in that franchise, not only with the players and coaches, but the front office and ticket sales. I've got a lot of friends there and it definitely wasn't bitter. I think it's a sigh of fresh air for both sides.
SI.com: But how badly did you want out? When I hear that you'd made a "trade request," I'm always wondering what level of urgency there is to get out.
Bogut: I think I was easy with it either way. It would've been nice to spend my whole career in one city, but I think at the same time it got to the point where they approached me with scenarios and I definitely didn't rebut them. I wasn't a guy who said, "No, that's bull----, I want to stay here.' But I wasn't the guy who said, "Get me the 'F' out of here. I hate it here." I think it was as mutual as it gets. It was handled very professionally. It was just time, man. People were frustrated with my injuries, and we weren't having a great year anyway, and I was frustrated with the way my injuries were treated by people there. I think the best thing for both parties was to go their own way.
SI.com: What do you mean by "the way your injuries were treated"?
Bogut: It's always tough with injuries of this magnitude, because I can't come out and say [anything]. After I hurt my elbow [in April 2010], people were like, "Why are his offensive numbers down?" [in the 2010-11 season when he returned]. I can't come out and say, "Well, my elbow is totally screwed and I'm playing through a lot of pain." But I would've liked a bit more from the franchise on that side of things, [for them] to come out and say, "He's playing with a piece of bone loose in his elbow."
I didn't mind [criticism], but I think at the end of the season professionally it took a toll on me. I'm supposed to be one of the franchise players, so it wouldn't have been a bad thing if they kind of had my back a little bit in that sense rather than me trying to come out and saying, "Well, my elbow is pretty screwed and I'm out here playing at 85 percent for this whole season." But in hindsight, it's one of those things that you learn from and move on from.