Here is my Friday column on Andrew Bogut. WARNING: This is a Warriors column. 49ers fans — feel free to skip this.
A good thing happened to the Warriors this week.
They embraced their inner Bogutness and became Andrew Bogut’s team.
They had been Stephen Curry’s team. But being Bogut’s team is better.
Curry is a great offensive player, but he’s not an Alpha Dog. He’s a side-kick. When you think of him, you think of the words “soft,” “nice,” and “religious” – someone who turns the other cheek.
None of those words describe Bogut. Bogut is an Old-Testament type of player. He takes eye for an eye.
Actually, Bogut is more brutal than that. He takes two eyes for an eye. That’s the kind of player he is and, now that he’s healthy, the Warriors have taken on his personality. You saw it Wednesday night against the Clippers.
In the NBA, teams need Old-Testament personalities to be championship contenders. Last season, Bogut and Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry and Draymond Green brought Old-Testament toughness to the Warriors for the first time since they won a championship in 1975. But Bogut was not healthy enough to lead the team to the Promised Land. So, the Warriors still were Curry’s team, a soft, 3-point shooting team.
And it wasn’t just Curry who was soft. Last season Jack said when he used to come in to play the Warriors, he perceived them as soft and weak-willed.
That era officially ended in that game, semi-brawl against the Clippers.
In the fourth quarter, Blake Griffin tried to run right through Bogut to get an offensive rebound like Bogut wasn’t even there, like Bogut was Andris Biedrins, one of the softest centers ever, the center Bogut replaced.
If Biedrins still had been the Warriors’ center, Griffin would have pushed him under the basket, grabbed the offensive rebound, made the basket and drawn a foul.
Bogut didn’t budge.
Bogut pushed back. Bogut took his elbow and pushed it into Griffin’s face until Griffin leaned all the way back like he was doing the limbo.
This is what happens when you push Bogut. You get pushed back.
This is what happens when you play the Warriors. When you enter Oracle Arena, you enter a House of Pain. And you may beat the Warriors, but they’re going to beat you up and you have to prepare for that. This is new.
With Bogut’s elbow in his face, Griffin tried to throw Bogut to the side, but Bogut hardly moved. Then, Bogut grabbed Griffin’s jersey and threw Griffin side to side like Griffin was a little kid.
Get Bogut once, he’ll get you twice.
And so will David Lee, and so will Green. Those three will fight. Green threw an elbow at Griffin’s throat in the third quarter and got ejected.
After the game, Griffin whined to ESPN about Bogut’s Warriors. “Instead of just playing straight up and playing a game, it got into something more than that, and it’s unfortunate because you want to play a team head-to-head. You don’t want to start playing other games and playing cowardly basketball.”
What Griffin calls “other games” and “cowardly basketball” is the type of basketball NBA teams played in the 1980s. It is not cowardly. It is physical. The Celtics and the Pistons and the Knicks would knock opponents on their backs. That was before breathing on Michael Jordan became a foul verging on a felony.
Griffin expects Jordan-treatment from the refs, like he’s the reincarnation of Jordan. He thinks Bogut isn’t famous enough to stand his ground in the post against him. How dare Bogut push back?
Griffin isn’t the only Clipper who feels that way. Their head coach, Doc Rivers, whined to ESPN after the game as well: “Honestly, I thought we were just kicking their butts and they went to something else,” Rivers said.
The “something else” he refers to is the type of intimidating basketball the Celtics were known to play when he coached them. How ironic that he would complain about it now that he’s coaching the Clippers. And weak.
And if he thinks it’s just something the Warriors “went to” once, he’s kidding himself. That’s who the Warriors are now. They are defined by Bogutness.
And they worry the Clippers. The Warriors are under their skin. As long as the Clippers broadcast that Bogutness irritates them, they will get full-on Bogutness from the Warriors every time they play each other.
At the end of Wednesday night’s game, the Clippers missed a 3-point shot as time expired and Bogut grabbed the rebound. Chris Paul snatched the ball out of Bogut’s hands like a sore loser.
Bogut snatched it back.
My ball. You lose. Go home.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.