Bucks center Andrew Bogut’s injured left ankle, which he twisted Wednesday landing on Kobe Bryant’s foot early in the 3rd quarter of Australia’s 116-85 loss to Team USA, is just a sprain, according to Aussie publication The Age.
Bogut had told Journal Sentinel’s Gary D’Amato after the game that he thought he had possibly torn a ligament.
An MRI, however, revealed that it was not as serious as thought and “possibly only a minor sprain,” the Age reported.
At this point the Bucks probably should make a serious inquiry into the Australia Boomers’ handling of Bogut’s ankle injuries. Injuries, you say? Yes, there was more than one. Bogut injured an ankle July 31 in a pre-Olympic exhibition tournament against Angola.
Bogut on Thursday emailed TMJ4’s Lance Allen to say, “My right was bad – it just got better, and now my left is sore …” – the first indication that the injures occured to separate ankles. Whatever the case, the Bucks should get a more definitive answer, given how Bogut assumed he had ripped a ligament and how the initial ankle injury three weeks ago was apparently handled.
There was no mention in the press of Bogut turning an ankle in the Angola exhibition, yet somehow it “swelled up” the next day after an entire half of basketball against Argentina. When Bogut was removed from the game, Australia was up 19 points. When he didn’t return as his team lost the lead and the game, questions were raised. The Aussie press termed it a “minor ankle injury.”
Four days later, Bogut was still resting the ankle, sitting out an exhibition Aug. 5 vs. Team USA. Suddenly, the injury wasn’t so minor and had been upgraded to “he rolled it pretty good,” according to Aussie coach Brian Goorjian. Repeat swelling was “a concern” but Bogut was guaranteed to play in Olympic game 1 against Croatia. This was the first time the coach had talked to the media about the injury. It was also the last discussion of Bogut’s ankle(s) in the press by the team until he landed on Kobe’s foot Wednesday.
Bogut did start in the Aug. 10 game — nine days after the injury against Angola — and while it looked to me like he was moving well on both feet, he played like a tenderfoot. Bogut didn’t start the second half as the Boomers lost 97-82 and looked bad doing it. Things didn’t get much better the next game, Aug. 12 against Argentina, as Australia spotted Argentina a 20-3 lead and lost 85-68. It was not until Aug. 16 vs. Russia, more than two weeks after the initial injury, that Bogut returned to form, scoring 22 in Australia’s face-saving and surprisingly easy 95-80 victory. What ankle injury?
Let’s go back and look at the alleged injury July 31, if we can find it. If Bogut “rolled it pretty good” against Angola that night, he showed no effects of an injured ankle. He scored 32 pts and hauled down 11 rebs, almost single-handedly pulling the Boomers into the game with 12 fourth quarter points and a game-tying hoop-and-one in the final minute. The Boomers won on a last-second 3-pointer.
When Bogut came out of the next day’s game vs. Argentina and didn’t return, it was naturally assumed he was injured vs. Argentina. That’s how the Journal Sentinel reported it and how it wired around the internet. No, Goorjian was sure to explain a few days later, it was injured against Angola. Apparently, Bogut must have hurt himself on the last play or two of the game, or this was one funny, slow swelling “minor” ankle sprain. Rolled ankles usually swell up quickly (I’m kind of an expert, having rolled each of mine at least six or seven times playing ball).
If Australia Basketball is to be believed about the timing of the injury, the Bucks have every right to ask what sort of treatment he received that allowed him to get through the Angola game without any evidence of an ankle injury. They also have every right to know why he played the next day in a meaningless tuneup game. I’d also want to know why Bogut and the Boomers, who had been together a month, looked against Croatia Aug. 10 like they had just met in the parking lot. Something was not right with Bogut, and not right with the team.
The medical questions demand asking in light of news this week from the women’s side of Basketball Australia. Star center Lauren Jackson revealed Wednesday that she’s taken injections in her ankle to get through the Olympics and will have surgery after the games. Apparently this was unbeknownst to her WNBA team, the Seattle Storm, who had given her five WNBA games off before the league’s Olympic break so she could train early with Australia. The surgery will end her WNBA season.
Ankle ligaments may have been on Bogut’s mind because on Tuesday Australia guard Penny Taylor tore hers. Despite the severity of the injury, Aussie trainers seem to think they’ll have her ready to play against the U.S. on Saturday, four days after the injury. Taylor plays for the Phoenix Mercury. (Taylor did, in fact, play on Saturday).
The WNBA doesn’t pay its players anywhere near the minimum NBA salary. (Even Jackson, arguably the world’s best female basketball player, plays in Russia in the winter for the money.) As a result, WNBA teams have limited leverage when it comes to the Olympics.
The Milwaukee Bucks, having staked a guaranteed $60 million in Bogut, have every right to know what’s going on around their center’s ankles. When the Aussie coach who was not-so-forthcoming about the first ankle injury tells reporters the day after the second injury that “I think we’re talking about a 48-hour thing,” I wouldn’t breath a sigh of relief — not when Aussie team doctors are treating Penny Taylor’s ligament damage as a possible three or four day thing.
There is much at stake for Australia basketball in these Olympics. Australia’s National Basketball League is failing. Fan interest is lagging. The country’s hoops organizations have been merged into one entity to “reform the sport in Australia.” Because the international men’s and women’s programs are high profile successes, they carry Basketball Australia’s hopes of rekindled national interest. It follows then that whatever is done (or not done) as far as treating player injuries has Basketball Australia’s interests at heart — not the interests of the NBA team in Milwaukee.
Goorjian’s “48-hour thing” comment came in response to a reporter’s question about whether the coach expected a call from the Bucks. He said no, he didn’t. He may not, if all the Bucks care about is the latest injury, which is out of Basketball Australia’s hands as Bogut seeks a second opinion with his home doctors. But something tells me GM Hammond and the Bucks team doctors will want to know more.
Of course an NBA team takes a risk when it allows a player to play for his country, but this should extend to the risk of injury, not to the treatment of injuries. Full disclosure of medical treatment is not too much to ask. And if it becomes a problem, you may see NBA teams taking the stance Cleveland Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry did when his center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, informed the Cavs of his plans to play for Lithuania this summer.
Ferry said nyet.
Now that Bogut’s off resting his swollen ankles …
Lauren Jackson said she’d run “five times nude around the athletes village” if the Aussie men pulled off a miracle upset of Kobe and Team USA. With such great incentive going for them, how could those blokes have dropped the ball?