- Warriors vs. Spurs: Series Hub
OAKLAND – Warriors center Andrew Bogut was so frustrated around midseason over the lack of progress from a maddening ankle injury that he began to contemplate having to retire, he told NBA.com on Thursday. That seems long ago now that his successful recovery continued to play a major role in the improbable playoff heights for Golden State.
Bogut said he “was getting close” to having to give it serious consideration, but that he was not at the point of having to make a decision. The plan, he said, was to try and finish this season on an encouraging note, work during the summer to return to peak condition and aim for a healthy 2013-14. If that went bad, all options would have been on the table.
“I didn’t get to that point,” he said before the Warriors practiced in advance of Game 3 of the second-round series against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at Oracle Arena, “But it was definitely [something] I started to think about. I never got to a point where I thought, ‘This is it. I’m done.’ But I thought, ‘If this goes on for a year or two, there’s definitely a chance that I think about that.’
“I was really bad. The physical part of it is one thing, but the mental part of it’s the other. It was a tough time in my career. You always just start questioning yourself, and whenever you do that as an athlete, I think it’s probably not a great thing. When is this going to subside? When am I going to feel better? Am I going to be back to the same level I was playing at before the injury? How long is it going to take? Why is it taking so long? [I am] medically cleared to play, but am I being soft? Am I not going hard enough? Am I going too hard? Too many questions in your mind. I was frustrated.”
Asked if he ever thought his career could seriously be in jeopardy, Bogut told NBA.com, “I never got to that point, but I was starting to get there. [I] come back at the start of the season and it doesn’t respond well, [so] I had to take three months off. It just becomes monotonous doing the same rehab every day and not seeing results. I’m doing the same thing every day. People don’t know, practice is at 11 [a.m.] and I am in here at 8:30 doing my rehab for 2 ½ hours and strength and conditioning and conditioning and getting my shots up, getting my rhythm and seeing no results — I was real frustrated.
“The goal was to try and get to the summer and then work on my body and see how it is next season. But, obviously, now I’m starting to feel much better. My body’s starting to respond a little bit better. It’s a positive sign. My goal was in the playoffs to no matter have a good playoff campaign and kind of forget about the season. It’s kind of worked so far.”
Yeah. Kind of.
Bogut, after 24.6 minutes in 32 games during the regular season, is at 29 minutes in the first eight postseason games — the six in the first-round victory over the Denver Nuggets and the first two of the Western Conference semifinals now tied 1-1 against the Spurs. Even though clearly less than 100 percent – Bogut and coach Mark Jackson won’t estimate how close Bogut is to full strength – he is the defensive presence Golden State long desired, a facilitator for the offense being led by perimeter players and a vocal leader. The playoffs have been his response to anyone who questioned the trade for Monta Ellis in March 2012.
“I think he likes the fact of winning and finally feeling good, physically,” Jackson said. “I think at the end of the day, no matter who you’re talking to, with the question marks were around the trade and all that, he has to have a chip showing folks it made sense. It’s well-deserved for him and great to see because if we had to do it all over again, it was unanimous.”
Jackson was asked about the trade Thursday, in the context that moving Ellis created a clear path for Klay Thompson to blossom at shooting guard along with adding Bogut.
“It helped change the culture,” Jackson said. “Obviously, it was easier to pull the trigger because we knew what we had in Klay and it was time for him to be a starting two-guard. And he does everything right.”
How did the deal change the culture?
Jackson paused four seconds.
“It helped change the culture,” he finally said.
He meant addition by subtracting Ellis. Jackson said it without saying it.