The Knicks played the Milwaukee Bucks last night.  I didn't get to watch the game, but I have it saved on my TiVo, and am planning to watch it later this week, with this goal in mind: trying to see what signs there are on the Bucks to the nature of Andrew Bogut's relationship with his teammates.

I'm sure a lot of you have seen this video already, from last week, of Andrew Bogut hi-fiving the air around him after hitting a free throw (video hat tip to Brew Hoop):

This video received much love around the blogsphere.  Let's see - 5 comments on the Ballhype entry for this video, plus 27 links from other blogs (I guess I make 28).  Here's how some other people saw it:

The last comment: "The Team Chemistry is sorely lacking. Give your boy a finsky on thew foul line. It is a man law! :-)" seems to place the blame for the poor team chemistry on Bogut's teammates.  I, too, saw this as a sign of poor team chemistry. 

Most of the video link post entries also seem to portray Bogut as a victim of his teammates - our friends over at Hardwood Paraxysm (a great site that we are big fans of, FYI) felt bad for Bogut, calling it "one of the saddest things we've ever seen" in a post entitled "Aw, Andy!  We'll Be Friends With You!"

Chris Mottram seemed to think it was funny.  With Leather noted that "Andrew Bogut is Lonely".  And that's seems to sum up most of the posts we saw on this topic: either pity or sympathy for the "lonely" Andrew Bogut, whose teammates don't want to be friends with him.

I saw it a bit differently.  Only Tom Ziller (have we mentioned that TZ has become our #2 favorite hoops blogger, after Shoals?  Unless, of course, Billups makes a comeback), as far as I know, saw it in a similar way - that Bogut might not be too well liked by his teammates or the majority of the league, in fact, for some of the things he said in an interview last summer.

Here's some of the more inflammatory comments that Bogut said to the Syndey Morning Herald in that interview:

"The public's image of NBA players is true. A lot of them get caught up in the hype and do video clips with rappers and all that crap. They want bling bling all over themselves and drive fast cars. But that's just the way the culture is in America - if you've got it flaunt it and if you don't, you can't."

"I'm not into jewellery. I've got some earrings but they're not too expensive. There are guys who drop a hundred grand for a chain. The public's got it right - a lot of NBA stars are arrogant and like to spend lots of money and have lots of girlfriends and all that.
"

And gross generalizations like that are how you end up with no one to high five you at the free throw line.   Seriously, all that little episode conveyed to me is that:

1)  Andrew Bogut hasn't peaced that beef yet - his teammates don't seem to care much for him (but, again, I'll watch the game from yesterday, and try to get a better feel for how they interact with him).
2)  That Bogut is a douchebag.  Because that stunt was not primarily about being funny; it was about being funny at his teammate's expense.  Making them look bad, because they didn't support him.  If he felt isolated, or abandoned, by his squad... there are much better ways to "confront" your teammates than to make a public display of it.

Bogut just doesn't get it.  He doesn't want to, either.  His gross over-generalizations of NBA players is all the more embarrassing considering who his teammates are, and have been, since he got into the league.  Guys like:

-Michael Redd, a devout conservative Christian, the son of a minister in Columbus, Ohio.   A guy who routinely mentions that he doesn't like going out, because "he needs to get lots of sleep before a game".  Not a guy with fast cars, and bling bling, but rather a hard-working player who was a second-rounder, backing up a future Hall of Famer in Ray Allen, who worked so hard in practice that he earned an opportunity as a three-point specialist.  Then he parlayed that opportunity into more playing time, an eventually a starting job, and eventually an All-Star appearance, a spot on the U.S. National Team, and a big contract plus the responsibilities of being his team's go-to guy.  Not Bogut, the #1 pick overall - no, Michael Redd, the guy picked in the 2nd round, taken in a spot where most guys never even make their teams.

-Maurice "Mo" Williams, another second rounder, who got a chance to fill in for the Buck's injured starting point guard (TJ Ford at the time), and made enough of an impression that the Bucks traded Ford so Mo could start.  Another hard working guy who was never suppose to make it in the NBA.  What other team in the league even has two 2nd-rounders in their team's 8-man rotation, much less as their starting backcourt?

-Second-rounders galore on the Bucks, when former second-rounder Bobby Simmons signed a deal to join the team in 2005.  He's struggled since getting there, due to an injured ankle that forced him to miss the entirety of last season.

-Oh, and my favorite, the Dominican Charlie Villanueva.  The son of a pair of immigrants, Villanueva was a heavily-criticized lottery pick when he was taken, mainly because no one thought he was going to be that good.  Instead he worked hard on his game, and as become a solid young starter in the NBA.  He's also known for suffering from Alopecia areata, a skin disease that causes all his hair to fall out, rendering him completely hair-less.  He's a spokesman for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and often spends lots of time talking to kids who have the same condition, trying to make them feel better about themselves.  It may not be a life-threatening disease, but for most kids and teens who have Alopecia, it can be very tough on their self-confidence to be bald and hairless.

Villanueva has won a bunch of community awards for his service. 

I'm sure Villanueva and the rest might be into fast cars and bling bling; most 20ish somethings are, and if you gave them that much money, I'm sure that's what most 20-something kids in the U.S. would spend it on.  The point is that if, after being in a locker room with them, and playing with them, for two years, all you can come up with in characterizing them is "bling bling" and "fast cars", well... I'm going to have to assume you are pretty much an ignorant Australian douchebag. 

And if I was your teammate, I probably wouldn't be very supportive of you, either. 

The Bucks clearly have a chemistry problem - they have too much talent, and too many hard working players, to not be improving.  And if you don't think Bogut is heavily responsible for the bad team chemistry, you aren't seeing the big picture here.  Not to mention that he's a #1 pick overall who isn't the first option, or even the second option, on his team.  Is he even an option?  While his individual numbers have improved every season, the Buck have gotten worse every year since Bogut got to Milwaukee.


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17 Comments

Comments

[April 2, 2008 11:04 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Jack Cobra said

It's because he's from Australia and they do everything backwards down there?

[September 12, 2008 8:40 AM]  |  link  |  reply
mase replied to Jack Cobra

yeah, aussies r like that thier really dumb.

ive been to australia once, and they critisize america alot. but its funny, they follow america too.....

[April 2, 2008 11:38 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Joe said

Let me first say that I don't like Bogut, but he isn't the only one that has made mistakes here.

There is a thing called professionalism. I think you pat a guy on the back after a free throw attempt. When there is time on the clock, you have to put all personal feelings aside for teammates and just play the game. You shouldn't look at who just shot the free throw and make a conscious decision to not go up, but rather you should instinctively give him a slap or pat.

Also, you attempt to make it seem like the Bucks are a bunch of great Christians or something, but where is Bogut getting this idea from then? He obviously has come into contact with the hip hop culture that permeates the NBA. He obviously thinks that a lot of NBA players(including some of his teammates) don't take the game seriously.

Was Bogut wrong the overgeneralize? Damn right he was. Should his teammates still be professional towards him? Yep. Should he have high fived air? Nope. All of this should be handled in house. The Bucks obviously are one of the worst teams in the NBA and I think they are showing the frustration that ought to go along with that.

Bogut has improved every year since he was in the league to be fair to him. He is still only 23 as well.

[April 2, 2008 12:05 PM]  |  link  |  reply
The Marathon Man said

Four days off and all I get is a post telling me Andrew Bogut might be a twat waffle? Just look at that mug...he could be a deaf-mute and it would still scream assbag.

Oh, yeah, and I agree with Joe. Shane Battier once commented on the lifestyle choices of his peers and instead of making poor generalizations about his colleagues, he wisely chose to reflect upon his 'smart' long-term investment strategies. It was terribly boring and made for a poor soundbite, which is why it was forgotten.

More importantly, he never threw anyone under the bus.

[April 2, 2008 12:29 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Canadian DJM said

Black guys high five like this, and white guys high five like this.

Ahahahaha.

[April 2, 2008 2:30 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Joe: Professionalism goes both ways - if the teammates are dicks for not hi-fiving him (agreed - he is helping the team by shooting those free throws, right?), then Bogut is also guilty of being a douchebag for publicly displaying his dissatisfaction with that. He could, instead, just try to talk to his teammates about it. My opinion here (and it is admittedly, speculative) is that he's not doing enough to dead the beef he created with his comments.

And yeah, I agree that there is something with the culture of American youth. I don't think calling it hip-hop culture is being broad enough - white kids in the suburbs, everywhere in the US are also in this group.

But if that's all he's learned about the NBA, and about other players - well, I'm sorry, but that means he's both ignorant and isolated. He admitted he doesn't hang out with but a handful of NBA players, all foreign. That leads me to believe that he's a true snob, someone who thinks he's above these other guys in the league, and doesn't want to get to know any of them. He just wants to judge them. Or more accurately, he's already judged them, and deemed them "wanting bling bling all over them...".

Seriously, what % of NBA player has appeared in rap video clips?!?

[April 2, 2008 7:33 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Joe replied to stopmikelupica

oh yeah Jack, funny comment. I missed it my last time around.

I personally think that he probably has apologized for his comments in a public manner. At least I would assume that much. Even if he never did, his teammates are still making hundreds of thousands to 10's of millions of dollars. I think that when you are at your profession you treat your colleges with respect and attempt to not hold any biases.

I think several Bucks players went out of their way to not give him props for his shot. That is what I have a problem with. It shows that they are bringing the hostility they have towards Bogut onto the court. Who is to say that this hostility is stopping at not high fiving? Maybe they are playing favorites while the shot clock is running as well... and that just can't help the team.

[April 2, 2008 7:38 PM]  |  link  |  reply
andrew said

i have to say i've found the whole reaction to this rather overblown. my reading of it was simply a case of him just being a bit silly, and thats it.

every time a player hits a free throw in every game - does his team mates high-five/butt slap/whatever? i'm sure i've seen "the snub" happen with enough regularity to think its not overly unusual. uncommon? oh hell yeah, but its not like it never happens.

to me its not:
- bad chemistry
- him showing his team mates up
- they hating him, either for his comments or some other reason

to me, its a case of him half expecting some love, not getting it, and deciding to make a (weak) joke out of the situation. if this happened EVERY TIME he took a free throw, all those theories thrown around about this might hold some water. i think this was just a single situation thats been blown totally out of proportion.

thats not to say that his comments weren't dumb, or that there may be resentment/hatred because of them (though wasn't he vindicated in one of his other comments from the same story about the amount of players that go broke after leaving the league? he got slammed for that as well (not as much obviously), but then a few months later there was some article showing it to be true), or that the bucks have terrible chemistry...just that everyone seems to be making huge assumptions based on a single incident.

and as an aside - i always thought the free-throw-high-five thing was stupid for 2 reasons. firstly, you're supposed to make your free throws (says the person who can't consistently hit 70% of them in practice), its not an amazing accomplishment. and secondly, i find it breaks my concentration a little - i like to keep my feet set if the first one goes in, and don't want to move or speak or anything until the second one is shot. but thats just me.

[April 3, 2008 11:05 AM]  |  link  |  reply
mcbias said

I kind of agree with Andrew--I don't think much of just one incident, it's just Bogut messing around in the first quarter.

That said...those Bucks players are gunners and ball hogs to the extreme. I watched them play the Celtics, and it was very disappointing--no semblance of team play whatsoever. If I were an NBA team, I would try to acquire Bogut ASAP, because his true value may be much higher on a team that would better utilize his strengths. Compare his numbers to the beloved Andrew Bynum--yes, Andrew is a little better, and younger, but they are closer in skill than you think.

[April 3, 2008 2:41 PM]  |  link  |  reply
TheLastPoet said

I can recall having a lil tif with Dwil back when he was at TSF when the original story broke on Mr. Bogut. Dwil was pro-Bogut, I was not. Thinking about his ridiculous comments on "NBA/American culture" today, I'm still anti-Bogut, of course. Nevertheless, this incident may be a lil overblown, as another commenter said above. I'd be interested to read your thoughts on the matter after you've watched the entire game...

[April 5, 2008 3:10 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Frank said

As the original poster of the video, I didn't think much of the whole thing. This team gave up on their coach a couple months ago and have been going through the motions for a while. And Charlie Villanueva's a space cadet so it doesn't surprise me at all that he wouldn't notice a teammate making a free throw.

"And if you don't think Bogut is heavily responsible for the bad team chemistry, you aren't seeing the big picture here."

Most people following the Bucks actually feel the opposite: the Bucks' problems have far more to do with guys like Mo Williams, Michael Redd and Charlie Villanueva than Bogut. Bogut is the only one of them who a) plays a lick of defense and b) doesn't seem preoccupied with his own stats. And while the competition is hardly fierce, he's probably been the Bucks' best player this year. Which is why Bogut's the only one who won't be on the trade block this summer. He'll never be Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but he's become a very good young player even if he might never be the franchise guy on a 50-win team.

That said, he absolutely can improve a lot in terms of knowing how to lead a team. Bogut has always been a fairly no-nonsense but moody guy who sometimes is more open about his opinions than would be prudent. While he called a number of teammates last summer to apologize and clarify his statements, he wasn't voted one of the Bucks' captains in the preseason either. The problem is that Michael Redd, for as good of a guy as he might be, couldn't lead Girl Scout Troop. And Mo Williams, another captain, has been so bad defensively that Krystkowiak has been entrusting Ramon Sessions, a 2007 second rounder who barely played up until a few weeks ago, to finish games. Next year will be interesting because Bogut will have finally established himself as a guy who's good enough that he SHOULD be a leader; now the question is whether he can actually do it.

[April 16, 2008 1:57 PM]  |  link  |  reply
fthenba said

have to admit i made it here via a simmons link and a search for more material.

a) what's wrong with bogut's comments? they're observational, and it's not like he's the only one who shares the same opinion. it's one of the reasons i have trouble getting back into the nba since it's early 90's heyday: a bunch of WAY overpaid wanna-be gangsters who have tons of tats and zero class and even less desire to win anything. they're a bunch of walking pay stubs. for every chris paul, there's 10 stephon marbury's.

b) the imaginary high-fives are hilarious. aw, poor babies, his teammates got their feelings hurt. the fact is the bucks just flat-out suck, and have sucked for a long time. their owner sucks. their roster sucks. old milwaukee sucks. about the only thing that doesn't suck is the fans, and bogut actually gave them something entertaining buy high-fiving himself. someone sue the man for a little levity. jesus.

[August 23, 2008 2:30 AM]  |  link  |  reply
gegi said

May i say that andrew bogut's comments are exactly right!!!... Most of todays players just want money, money money!!!! they only play the game because they want chicks and to be reconized.. Im an aussie and what bogut did was funny!!... Boguts Teamates need to get of their high horses and come back to reality !! Bogut is a fantastic player!!!.. If his teamates are pissed at his comments they need to get a life !!! .. Bogut comments are true .. everyone plays for themselves.. except for bogut ... Bogut deserves to be a leader and if people dont like him .. Get F***ed

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