By TED SILLANPAA
The Golden State Warriors are fortunate that the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback controversy has overwhelmed the Bay Area media to the point that no one seems interested in the fact that even a better-than-expected start to the NBA season can’t keep the franchise from remaining one of the worst in professional sports.
The Warriors traded popular, high-scoring guard Monta Ellis and developing power forward Epke Udoh to obtain the rim-protector that every championship level team needs in 7-foot Andrew Bogut. Bogut had played very well for the Milwaukee Bucks, when he wasn’t injured.
The fact that the Warriors acquired him in March, after he fractured his ankle and had season-ending surgery, set off alarms all over the Bay Area. The Warriors insisted that there was nothing to worry about and that Bogut would be healthy and manning the middle in 2012-2013. His injury would heal. He would be fine. Golden State’s wildly faithful fan would have their big, capable center.
Well, it turns out that the Warriors lied to the media and their fans at the time of the trade. After averaging about 18 minutes, playing four of the season’s first five games, Bogut was sidelined again in November. The injury, that was much worse than reported by the Warriors, had flared up. The organization reported that he just didn’t have that lift, that explosion, and explained Bogut would be fine very soon. (No reason to hold off buying tickets, folks! The Warriors would be full strength any day … any day now … Bogut’s fine … just buy your tickets. Really. He’ll be fine.)
Then, Bogut got tired of being asked when he would return and admitted that the Warriors had lied and that the ankle surgery was really more serious than reported. Bogut said he would be out indefinitely — which was considerably longer than being on the verge of returning any day.
Exactly how outraged would you be if you’d paid for Warriors tickets on the promise that you’d be seeing a lineup with a proven, 7-foot center in the lineup … only to read Bogut’s explanation that he’d actually had microfracture surgery on his ankle and that his ankle was hurting and that … he had no idea when he’d play again.
“We don’t want to fool anybody, anymore. We don’t want to keep creating a little bit of excitement of, ‘Hey, Andrew might be playing Saturday. It might be Monday. He’s back.’ “
That’s what Warriors’ general manager Bob Myers should’ve said, oh, during the summer. At the very least, he should’ve said that when the club decided to remove Bogut from the active roster just five games into the season. Myers didn’t make that statement, though.
Bogut told the media, “We don’t want to fool anybody, anymore.”
Myers said the organization never intended to mislead anyone. But, it’s quite possible that one of the most mismanaged franchises in the NBA didn’t realize that selling tickets on promise of Bogut’s return was misleading and unethical. Bogut actually admitted that the team had asked him not to talk about how he’d underwent serious microfracture surgery, when small holes were drilled into bone to spur tissue growth.
Bogut didn’t want to mislead fans. The Warriors did it for months and would be doing it today if he hadn’t put a stop to it.
And, co-owner Joe Lacob wonders why Warriors fans nearly booed him out of his own building during a halftime ceremony honoring Chris Mullin last spring? The club, even with a nice start to this season, is the most poorly run organization in the NBA.
Thank goodness that Bogut finally put his injured foot down and said he was out indefinitely. The Warriors led fans and their media to believe Bogut would be back any day when Bogut knew all along that he might not be back at all this season. Bogut got tired of lying. No one knows how long the Warriors could’ve kept at it.
Telling the truth was the right thing to do and the Warriors never do the right thing.
The mishandling of the Bogut situation should be overshadowing the nice start to this season. But, hey, the 49ers have two competent quarterbacks and only one can play … so, who cares if the local NBA team is lying to its fans and asking its star player to do lie as well? The Warriors did beat the Pistons to stay a couple games above .500. Everything’s cool. Right?
Bogut revealed that he underwent more serious microfracture surgery, in which small holes are drilled into bone to spur tissue growth. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the surgery, which Bogut said the team asked him not to talk about.
Basketball players, particularly 7-foot basketball players, have a very, very difficult time coming back from microfracture surgery. (Greg Oden had microfracture surgery on his knees.) It’s not something the Warriors would’ve wanted to talk about when they’d traded Monta Ellis to get Bogut. It’s not something the Warriors wanted to mention when they were selling tickets for this season.
The true severity of Bogut’s injury is something the Warriors were duty bound to talk about openly and honestly. They did not.
How can anyone trust the Warriors organization again? Why did anyone trust them when they made the Bogut trade to begin with?