Andrew Bogut Injury: A Symbol of the Milwaukee Bucks Fortunes
Being born in 1981 means I'm too young to remember much of the Milwaukee Bucks' triumphant 1980s teams that won multiple division titles and had a stacked lineup of talented players. That leaves me with the brief moment in time in 2001 when the Big Three of Sam Cassell, Glen Robinson and Ray Allen brought the Bucks some success.
Fans to this day lament losing Ray Allen, and it's been 10 years since the trade.
But over 40 years is a long time for an avid sports fan base in Milwaukee to wait. As the Brewers showed the nation, in a variation of the Field of Dreams saying, "if you build a competitive team and a top-of-the-line stadium, they will come" to the tune of 3,000,000 visitors year-to-year at Miller Park.
I'm not optimistic. With my history of unlucky injuries I'm hoping this one can do me a favor and (go away). Most of my injuries are unfortunate things and this goes in the same boat as that. It's frustrating.
I started to realize the Bucks' success came from the health of Jennings and Bogut since the "Fear the Deer" year was the only year so far the two have remained on the court together for a full season.
When Andrew Bogut was selected No. 1 overall in 2005, the entire hope of a hapless franchise rested on his 7'0" frame.
Amidst his early years, fans wondered when the Bucks would reap the rewards for investing in the giant Aussie.
For a franchise whose No. 1 picks were never in years that had the likes of a LeBron James or other surefire superstars, many were still bitter about losing Dirk Nowitzki even though it's well-documented the Bucks never intended to keep him, regardless of drafting him.
I was amazed by the great energy in the Bradley Center in Brandon Jennings' rookie year when "Fear the Deer" became a household mantra and the Bucks were world beaters with a roster of unknowns, has-beens, would-bes and even retirees.
Many of this motley crew contributed, and the trade for John Salmons galvanized an already fierce team into a playoff team to reckon with, but the key players were Jennings and Bogut.
Bogut is the one who brought excitement back to Bucks basketball, both through his play and his willingness to sponsor Squad Six, a raucous band of diehard fans chosen by a panel featuring Bogut to occupy a section of the Bradley Center and make the most noise possible through song, chants, vuvuzelas and wild dancing.
Not many players in NBA history, if any, outside of Bogut, have actually paid for fans to be fans and reward the most intense fans with an opportunity to really rock the house in unison.
When Bogut took one of the worst spills in NBA history on that fateful night in Arizona. Bucks fans knew it was a 1000-to-1 odds they could beat Atlanta. Still, the spirited Bucks battled and nearly beat the hyped and talented Hawks of 2009.
Bogut's injuries were so terrible, he played through broken chips in his shoulder the following year, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The results were incredibly inaccurate free-throw shooting, lost touch around the hoop and fewer rebounds and blocks (defensive skills which had become his greatest strengths).
What impact will Bogut's most-recent injury have on the Bucks overall?
This year, I feel for the man. Just as he had fully recovered from the terrible injury of the fall, life hits Bogut hard again. Now 'Bogues,' as Coach Skiles nicknamed him, is dealing with an undisclosed personal matter involving family and, soon after returning to the team, suffered an ankle fracture last night.
Bogut thought it was bad luck, but didn't think it was broken after the first x-ray came back negative.
Much like the history of the Bucks post-1986, Bogut just can't catch a break. If one were to make a graph of Bucks wins since 1986, the bottoming-out trend would contain one outlier in 2001 amidst innumerable .500 or worse teams.
Milwaukee may not be done yet, and the city has a fighting spirit to keep on keeping on as we rebuild the blue-collar identity of this once-prominent manufacturing town and shape a fresh, 21st century identity as a freshwater hub of the world, but this recent punch to the gut for the franchise can't be easy to overcome right now.
As a fan, I wish Bogut well, he's still young. At least this injury won't take multiple years to recover from, but you have to figure the window of the current coach, general manager and even the state of the franchise are in the balance right now.
While the past is one injury away from despair, the future could be bright for the Bucks amid talks of gathering investors and possible plans for a new arena. Whispers of a strong NBA draft class this year could make the Bucks resemble the NFL's "Suck for Luck" campaign, barring an epic effort from the remaining players in a strike-shortened, condensed season.
Is it too early to start the disparaging "there's always next year" Eeyore-like mantra?
The team has a talented supportive cast, but without a legitimate center, let alone a top-five center when healthy, the Bucks are in serious trouble now.
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