In so, so many ways.
Andrew Bogut’s season ended early last night, after an appalling injury that I will not link to because I would rather you get a full night’s sleep.
My response – and I mean this in the full, three-year-old usage of the term – it’s just not fair.
Sure, this injury won’t decide the identity of your 2010 NBA champions. It won’t decide who plays in the Finals, or the Conference Finals. Hell, it probably doesn’t even decide who wins a series (though the Bucks had the best chance of pulling off a first round upset in the East). Chances are, this just means that the Hawks/Celtics are a tad less tired when they get demolished by the Cavs/Magic.
Still not fair. Not one little bit.
Because if you’re an NBA fanatic like me – and if you’re not, I demand that you stop reading this instant, quit your job, get League Pass, watch at least 20 full-game replays, check the per-minute stats of the top 250 players in points per game, and get back to me – you know that Andrew Bogut, the sickly white, weird-haired, clumsy Australian center, was one of the most exciting players in the NBA this season. And watching him in the playoffs was another huge, bold and italic headline heading into this year’s postseason.
Sure, he shouldn’t have been drafted ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Sure, he looks kinda funny, much more Luc Longley/Greg Ostertag than he is Dwight Howard/Shaq. Sure, he’s never going to be in a dunk contest, and even when he (rightfully) makes an All-Star Game, his moves won’t make the highlight reel. But if you don’t like the beautiful interior passing, the world-class post defense, and that soft, soft touch around the basket, then you don’t like basketball.
And that’s before you get into the leadership. Bogut has spent the past few months of his life being the heart and soul of the league’s new up-and-coming, come-out-of-nowhere team. A team that defends, that shows and recovers, that swings the ball for the open shot. And even if they weren’t close to a title, this team was good. This was a squad that I was legitimately excited to see. “Can they beat the Hawks? They seem to play them well … wait, what about the Celtics? Ooooh, I’d love to see them against the Celtics! And how about that classic game against the Cavs? Seven games of that? Yes, please!”
“Can they beat the Hawks? No. Wait, what about the Celtics? No. And how about that classic against the Cavs? Seven games of that? Well, we won’t get it.”
Seriously, I hope you’re pumped to see Primoz Brezec get playoff minutes.
It depresses me, as a viewer of the game, that I am deprived of a fun player on a fun team playing fun basketball. And yes, I’ll find my kicks elsewhere. Hell, there’s not a single team in the league that I won’t watch. Every squad has at least 2 players for whom I monitor box scores on a daily basis. I mean it. Wolves? Love, Jefferson, Brewer, Flynn. Nets? Lopez, Harris, Courtney Lee, CDR. Pacers? Granger, Hibbert, Josh McRoberts (ha, fooled ya there). Pistons? Stuckey, Jerebko, Sir William Bynum. Try me. I dare you.
But even if you’re not a nutjob like me, even if you don’t go “Whoa! Four offensive boards for Chris Richard? Way to go, Chris!” Bogut made basketball just a bit funner. From the Duncan-esque statlines (31/18 or 25/14/5/1/2 or 18/14/4/6), to auditioning for the loudest, craziest fans in Milwaukee, so he can give them all season tickets and create “Squad 6,” the guy just gets it. (I can’t stress how great this Squad 6 idea is. I cordially invite you to come to a Hapoel Jerusalem game some time, and see how basketball crowds should behave. Squad 6 answers to that standard. See video below for background info.)
Which is what makes this so, so unfair. Forget about me and my quirks. I’m crushed no matter who gets injured. More than anybody else, this isn’t fair to Andrew Bogut. Because Andrew Bogut is what happens when you get over the injuries. After playing less than half a season last year, after his would be co-star tore his ACL for the second straight year, he comes back and leads a team stuck in nowhere land to the playoffs — for this to happen? I can’t imagine how bad it feels for him to miss the playoffs again after getting a slight taste of them in his rookie year, and missing them ever since.
This whole injury thing just sucks. And don’t give me the “it’s part of the game” speech. I know it’s part of the game. And it shouldn’t be. When the basketball gods had their “let’s create basketball” meeting, and they were discussing what they would like to include in the game, the son of a bitch that said “injuries! We gotta have injuries!” just made himself an enemy for life.
I can honestly say that this is the second most depressed I’ve been after an injury all season (get well soon, Greg Oden).
And it sucks.
This is a video about Squad 6. Not a video of Bogut’s injury. If you really want to watch that, go here. Disclaimer: It’s really, really gross.