Game 6 may be the last time Keith Bogans returns to the Madhouse on Madison.
by Krissy Harper / @CSNKrisHarper
As the Nets face off against the Bulls in Game 6 of the first-round 2013 NBA Playoffs on Thursday night, Nets guard Keith Bogans may be playing his last game at the Madhouse on Madison.
A casualty of a tightened Playoff rotation, the 11-year vet has only played two minutes in the postseason, but it wasn’t long ago when Bogans was starting for the Bulls during the ‘10-11 season. During his single season in Chicago, Bogans started all 82 regular-season games and 16 post-season matches and established a significant rapport with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“Thibs and I had a great relationship. Of course, I played for him back in Houston (in 2006), but you know he is a defensive-minded coach and I think my style of play worked well with him,” Bogans said.
Throughout his career, Bogans has taken a defensive approach to the game. Knowing his playing time depended on his ability to stop the top player on the opposing team, he embraced this role right from the beginning of his career.
“When I first came in the League I knew everybody could score. Scorers are everywhere and there are very few defensive players so I wanted to focus on defense,” Bogans said.
Playing for a stern, hard-nosed coach like Thibodeau, might be exhausting to some athletes, but Bogans found ease in this style of play.
“Oh it was fun, intense. [Thibodeau] looks for perfection in practice every day. That’s the only way he wants it,” said Bogans with a smile, reminiscing on his days practicing at the Berto Center in Deerfield, IL.
While his stats as a Bull were modest—averaging 4.4 points and just under 2 rebounds per game—his impact was felt on the defensive end. Because of this, he consistently received praise from Thibodeau.
“If he’s guarding you, you know he’s guarding you. He’s going to make you work. He’s a physical player,” said Thibodeau, during a 2010 post-game press conference.
But before the first practice after the lockout season on December 9, 2011, Bogans was called off the floor to receive some disheartening news. His contract status had been put on hold while the Bulls explored the market searching for another shooting guard. And just one week later, Chicago waived him.
Although this situation had the potential to have a negative long-term effect on Bogans, he stayed positive knowing there were better things that lie ahead.
“Hey, that’s the business. Things happen. I was a little upset at first but I got over it; happy to be back playing again,” said Bogans, who was signed by the Nets on February 1, 2012, just two months later.
While his playing time has not been significant this season, Bogans has made an impact on a Nets team that made the Playoffs for the first time in six seasons. He has become a mentor to many of the younger players and looks to provide them with knowledge of the game or even some life lessons.
“Oh, any way I can; on the court or off the court…extra work in the gym, just a little bit of everything,” said Bogans, during a Game 3 pre-game interview at the United Center.
With his role primarily being felt off the court, Bogans’ return to the game next season is uncertain. Bogans will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and this first-round series against the Bulls might be the last time Bogans returns to the Madhouse.