Michael Scotto, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Reporters flock around Deron Williams, the face of the Brooklyn Nets franchise, for his post game comments during a recent home victory at Barclays Center.
Next to Williams is NBA veteran Keith Bogans. Each home game, the media routinely surrounds Williams while Bogans quietly gets dressed before exiting the locker room.
This locker room scenario describes Bogans on the court metaphorically. Bogans has been an NBA veteran since 2003, always finding a roster spot on a team due to his gritty defense and three-point shooting ability. Bogans doesn't make flashy plays that end up on SportsCenter, nor does he accumulate eye-popping numbers in a box score, but he makes little plays that win games for his team and earn the admiration of his teammates.
On this day, I surprised Bogans when I asked him for an interview after he finished getting dressed.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk to Deron?” he said.
I laughed and assured Bogans that I was there to speak with him, which brought a small smile to the face of the former Kentucky Wildcat.
Bogans has resurrected his career with the Nets after missing all but five games the previous season.
“From where I was this time last year, I didn’t even have a job,” Bogans said. “I was sitting at home, so I tell the guys it’s just a plus for me to be on the floor playing basketball again.”
Despite missing almost all of last year's lockout shortened season, Bogans trained with the Nets at the PNY Center to rehabilitate from his injury. It was during this time when Nets management approached Bogans about his future with the franchise.
“Well I didn’t really know,” Bogans recalled. “Just being here and being in the atmosphere, Billy [King] made it clear while I was working out here that they wanted me back and that was a plus. It just made me want to work even harder. When it was time for me to get back on the court and play again, I didn’t even think twice. I didn’t talk to any other team. I felt like they stayed true to me so I was going to come back here and play.”
Bogans’ work ethic earned him a one-year guaranteed contract and also helped him form a friendship with a former adversary in Williams.
“Well it’s crazy because I hated guarding him when I used to play against him,” Bogans said. “I was here and he was here a lot working out before the Olympics. I was here everyday so when he came into the gym, he saw me. We just kind of formed a great relationship during the summer and it just carried over into the year. He saw me anytime he came to the practice facility, I was there.”
After an entire summer of finding Bogans training at the PNY Center, Williams now finds Bogans for assists on open three-point field goals in either corner spot.
“That’s always been my sweet spot,” Bogans said of his propensity to shoot from the corners. “I know once the ball swings around and we’re moving it, if I’m in that corner, it’s going to most likely come. Throughout my career that’s been the shot I take. I’m a defender and a floor spacer so standing in that corner I can space the floor and try to help the guys from double-teaming Joe [Johnson], Deron [Williams], and Brook [Lopez].”
The shooting ability of Bogans and his on-the-ball defense have earned him praise from former coach Avery Johnson and interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
“It means a lot,” said Bogans. “I take pride in playing defense. When I first got in this league I wasn’t really known as a defender so I definitely worked on it, it’s something I take pride in.”
After a roller coaster first half of the season, Bogans believes he and the Nets are destined for a strong second half.
“It’s an up-and-down season,” he said. “You’re going to have your highs and lows. I just think as long as we get better, as long as we progress and not regress, I think we’ll be a great team.”
Before finally exiting the locker room, Bogans discussed being a part of history in Brooklyn and gave a glimpse into his future plans.
“It means a lot to me,” he said of playing in Brooklyn’s inaugural season. “I look at Brooklyn as home right now. I definitely don’t want to go anywhere and I enjoy playing here.”