During time-outs, the Warriors, like presumably all professional sports team, hold "Vote our guys to the All-Star Game!" gimmicks. During a game earlier this month, for instance, four youngish, smiling people jogged onto the court, each waving over their head a giant cut-out of a player's face.
"Vote for Steph Curry!" said the voice over the speakers.
The placard holder swayed the face like a dancing sun. The crowd cheered.
"Vote for David Lee! Vote for Klay Thompson!"
The crowd cheered some more.
"Vote for Andrew Bogut!"
Chuckles rippled through Oracle Arena.
"How can they say that with a straight face?" one spectator asked his friend.
The Golden State Warriors have played 15 games so far this season. Bogut has played in four of them, averaging 18 minutes, six points, and a shade under four rebounds per contest.
This isn't Bogut's fault. He's been injured. Broke his ankle last year. We all knew he'd be slow out the gate, with he and the team taking every precaution to ensure his long-term health. The team management's theory behind the March trade that sent Monta Ellis to Milwaukee was: we're not gonna win a title with Ellis and Curry, so we might as well roll the dice and buy low for a player who, when healthy, is one of the five best centers in the league. Fair enough.
Of course, the day after Ellis was traded, Oracle Arena infamously booed the hell out of owner Joe Lacob when he took the mic for Chris Mullin appreciation night. Maybe it got to him. Maybe he took it personal.
Because that would help explain why the Warriors are acting like the old bag lady who refuses to admit her cat is dead. Oh, Fluffy's just sleeping! Oh, Andrew's just fine, an All-Star candidate in fact!
But Andrew is not just fine. He is even less fine than fans had thought. As we learned this week, the Warriors have been covering up the fact that Bogut underwent microfracture surgery in April. These past seven months, the Warriors had been claiming that Bogut had only done a simple, clean-up procedure-- microfracture surgery is more serious than that. And all the while, the W's have been proclaiming increasingly delayed dates for Bogut's full-time return: April! No, wait, summer actually! Just kidding, season opener! For real this time, he'll be back any day now! On Wednesday, Bogut had had enough of the charade and came clean-- about the surgery, about being on "indefinite leave."
"We don't want to fool anybody, anymore," Bogut said, according to the Chronicle. "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.' It's enough. It takes a toll on me personally and on the organization."
Even by Golden State Warriors standards, covering up the extent of Bogut's surgery was a stupid-ass thing to do.
Lacob, co-owner Peter Gruber, General Manager Bob Meyers, and the rest of management came in with plenty of good will when they took over the franchise in 2010. This was partly by comparison; to most Warriors fans, previous owner Chris Cohan was terrible -- the knock was that he cared more about saving money than about winning.
This new management, though, seemed -- and still seems -- genuinely interested in building a quality franchise. The Warriors fans who booed Lacob weren't really booing Lacob. It was more like unloading years of frustration with the ownership. Warrior fans mistrusted Lacob the way a person mistrusts their new, seemingly great partner because their ex was a cheater. You can hate the Ellis-for-Bogut trade, but you can't call it unreasonable.
If Warrior fans had known that Bogut -- the man replacing the team's most popular player -- would get major surgery a month after the trade, many of them would have been pissed. Then the season would end and Warriors fans would chalk it up as just another bad GSW transaction -- same old stuff. Soon everybody would get caught up in the Giants and the 49ers. But then, suddenly, the Bay Area would look up and see the Warriors in first place, at 9-6, a month into the season, with the young, budding stars gelling together. "Maybe we should have trusted these guys all along!" Warrior fans, discussing team management, might say to each other.
Instead, Warriors fans learned that their team had been lying to them all along.