Yao-zers – Andrew Bogut Out For The Season

This just sucks. We’ve been robbed of our manifest playoff destiny once again.

Andrew Bogut is out for the year. Now, normally this wouldn’t be huge news and it wouldn’t really matter with just a week and a half remaining in the regular season. Normally, the Bucks would have been eliminated from playoff contention for a couple of weeks now and the city of Milwaukee would be turning their attention to Prince Fielder and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers. But not this year.

This year, the Bucks aren’t just making the playoffs; they’re putting teams on notice that if you face them in the first round you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. The Bucks are scrappy but it’s a different kind of scrappy. In the past, we’ve had scrappy teams that “nobody wanted to face.” They were teams who most likely put up a lot of points or had huge glaring weaknesses that far superior teams would be able to exploit in a seven-game series. The Wolves teams from the late 90s and early 00s were scrappy but you didn’t truly fear them. Tracy McGrady’s Orlando teams were scrappy but you knew they weren’t pulling off the massive upset against better teams. But this Bucks teams is completely different.

Or at least it was until last night when Andrew Bogut seemingly slipped off the rim and fell on his right arm. The diagnosis is a dislocated elbow, a broken hand and a sprained wrist. If it was just one of those injuries, the tough Australian anchor to the Bucks defense would wrap it up and go be the destructive defensive force he’s been all season. He’d be the guy that makes you wonder if Dwight Howard is hands down the best defensive player of the year.

Dislocated elbow? He’d probably pop it back into place in a pseudo-tribute to Lieutenant Riggs and go out there and be the guy Milwaukee needs him to be. If it was a broken hand, he’d most likely tape it up, take a few painkillers and go out there to carry out the plan of his defensive-minded coach. Sprained wrist? I don’t even know that we would hear about him having a sprained wrist. Andrew Bogut is one of the toughest guys in the NBA. He has that Aussie blood running through his veins that allows him to feel very little pain. However, throw all of those injuries together into one horrible fall and you’re left with the situation the Bucks are in.

It’s eerily reminiscent to the Houston Rockets situation from last season. With Tracy McGrady on the shelf already, the Rockets lost Yao Ming deep into their playoff push against the Lakers. The Rockets were already in the playoffs and in the middle of a Round 2 showdown with the eventual champs. After Game 3, we found out Yao Ming had a hairline fracture in the same left foot that had sustained three significant injuries throughout his career. It was completely deflating for all basketball fans that didn’t root for the forum blue and gold. When you have a scrappy team with the odds stacked against them, you don’t want them to lose their best player in the middle of what could be a special run.

Would the Rockets have beaten the Lakers in the second round of last year’s playoffs? Would the Bucks have advanced to the second round or the Eastern Conference Finals on the shoulders of the biggest, toughest man in Milwaukee? Unfortunately, we will never get those answers. We’re left to guess and hypothesize instead of get a definitive yes or no to the situation.

Much like the Rockets, the Bucks were already without their best wing scorer – a fate they have grown accustomed to and are used to dealing with. They know life without Michael Redd just the same as Houston knew life without Tracy McGrady. It was something you could sort of prepare for and make due with. Any NBA wing player (outside of Sasha Pavlovic or Sasha Vujacic or anybody named Sasha) can get hot and carry his team for an extended period of time. But like that Rockets team, this Bucks team has always been praying the bad luck wouldn’t once again trickle down into the post and befall their franchise big man.

What’s left of the Bucks is an aircraft carrier with no anchor. The Bucks are left with Ersan Illyasova playing the role of a much younger Luis Scola, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute playing the role of Shane Battier, John Salmons as a heavily medicated Ron Artest and Brandon Jennings as the flashier and more swaggerish version of Aaron Brooks. And I sort of hope it works.

What we need now is this Bucks team to rally around this adversity. We need them to accept this horribly dealt hand and bluff their way into winning a pot.

I often get labeled as a Brandon Jennings “hater” because I believe Tyreke Evans is not only the better player but is far more deserving of the Rookie of the Year award. The truth is I’m crazy about Brandon Jennings. Just because I believe Tyreke is better and more likely to receive the hardware doesn’t mean I’m not a Jennings fan. I’ve always been a fan of point guards first in this league. I’m drawn to them for some reason. Honestly, I would love nothing more than Brandon Jennings to go NOVA for the entire playoffs and give the opposing defenses more than they could ever hope to handle.

I want Brandon Jennings to turn back into the Pterodactyl With Wings of Fire. I want him to find the jumper that eluded him for too long this season. I want the three-point shot to snap through the bottom of the net. I want the runner to fall, the pull-up jumper to splash and the dribble to be so succinct and elusive that defenders are left confused and trying to recreate the scene of the crime to figure out how their dignity was taken from them on Jennings’ way to the court. I want chalk outlines of defenders’ ankles on the court and William Petersen brilliantly piecing the whole thing together with his creepy beard.

The Bucks may be deflated with the loss of Andrew Bogut for the rest of this campaign but this is a new Milwaukee team. Hopefully they can show the innate toughness that their coach and defensive centerpiece have infused into Bucks basketball.

Fear the Deer.

Seth Carstens