HANG TIME MILWAUKEE – Guy works hard at his job. Guy’s family has a crisis back in his hometown. Guy feels he has to be there, guy’s employer says “Go.” Guy is gone for a week on personal leave, deals with crisis, returns to work.
World keeps spinning.
If this is an accountant, a salesman or anyone else, we shrug. If he has to drive across two counties or even fly to Omaha, no one blinks. But Andrew Bogut is a professional athlete – a celebrity! – and an international one at that, so he had to scoot all the way from Salt Lake City to Melbourne, Australia, when the call came on Jan. 3 in the hours before the Milwaukee Bucks were to play the Utah Jazz there.
And then, crisis addressed, he had to scoot back. In time to help the Bucks – 14 points, 13 rebounds – beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-103 Tuesday night at the Bradley Center. He even drew a crucial offensive foul on rival big man Tim Duncan with 14.9 seconds left. (“I enjoying playing against him,” Duncan said after, “but not when he falls down.”)
Earlier in the day, after the morning shootaround, the Milwaukee center did shed some light on his absence, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“There was a family emergency involving a hospital, and I’ll just leave it at that. It opened up a whole lot of issues. It’s been addressed. I’m going to try to forget about it. The best way to forget about it, my temple is kind of the basketball court.”
And that pretty much was that. Appropriate, keeping a family matter in a distant land out of the 24/7 Internet-crazed sports media news cycle, yet remarkable too. Not even the British-styled tabloid press Down Under cracked open the privacy that Bogut sought, and Bucks management granted, during his absence.
Privacy – what a concept. That’s supposed to be taboo or a failure by those in the media or something. Still, other than noting Bogut’s dormant Twitter timeline for the week (@AndrewMBogut is worth a follow, by the way) reporters in Milwaukee and elsewhere were respectful and restrained.
The Bucks’ media crew said it got one gently prying phone call from a TV anchor in the six days Bogut was gone, while beat guy Charles M. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel did discrete due diligence for any daily updates. It also acknowledged that in certain other NBA markets, such decorum would be futile and rabid competition would turn the media outlets into Dobermans.
But John Hammond, Milwaukee’s general manager, is one of Bogut’s bosses and he was fully briefed and understanding. “We respect Andrew’s wishes,” Hammond said, “and if it was you or me with something like this, we’d feel the same way he does.”
Said Bogut: “I appreciate the team – Senator [Herb] Kohl and John Hammond – letting me go out there and do that. I appreciate everyone else giving me my personal space. … I’m not a guy that has ever taken leave from the team before, for any other reason but an injury. This is the first time … and hopefully it’s the last.”
From a sports, Bucks and NBA fan’s perspective, the only need-to-knows in this were A) how long Bogut might be gone and B) whether he and his team might face another sudden departure if he has to head back to Melbourne. The answer to the first one is known – Milwaukee lost all four road games while their center was gone.
As for the second, Bogut said, it’s highly unlikely. His bosses are fine, his teammates – to whom Bogut spoke upon his return – are fine. Most important, the family situation seems fine too.
“The Bucks were great, and they got a little bit of a hard time for it,” Bogut told HTB late Tuesday. “But at the end of the day, basketball is basketball and a job is a job. When you’re 45, 50, and this is all over, you want to look back and know you did the right thing.”