Much maligned by critics during his lone season with the Bulls, Keith Bogans was respected and loved by his teammates and coaches.
Bogans started all 82 games for Chicago last season and all 16 postseason games.
Despite the uncertainty of the team holding the option to pick up the 1.73 million owed to him this season, he was one of the first players to arrive to the Berto Center when informal workouts begin after the league opened league training facilities on Dec. 1.
Before the start of the first official training camp on Dec. 9, Bogans would be pulled off the floor by team management and would be subsequently released on Dec. 16 to make room for Richard Hamilton.
In an interview with the Tribune, Bogans reveals that the way the situation was handled was a slap to the face and is still is upset every time the situation is brought up.
When I walked in the gym and they told me I wasnt practicing after they had seen me all week since Monday, that was kind of a slap in the face, Bogans said. But its cool. Ive been through a lot in this league but nothing like that. It definitely made me a better man, a better person and a better basketball person.
I put everything on the line each night. I played with a hurt knee 82 games. I took a pill 82 games to get that (release) in return. Every time I play them for the rest of my career, it will give me something added.
Losing both Bogans and veteran big man Kurt Thomas may not have hurt the Bulls, on paper, but not much value is given to how close last years team truly was.
Those 15 guys I was in the locker room with were all my brothers, Bogans said. I formed a bond with them that I probably havent formed with another team that Ive played on. That was like my family. All those guys reached out to me when I got released. They were genuinely hurt when I didnt come back.
After his release, Bogans spent time at his Orlando residence, working out, and recovering from an offseason scope on his knee.
The New Jersey Nets citing a need for toughness and experience signed the nine-year veteran last Wednesday.
Im obviously very happy for Keith, he did a good job for us last year, said Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau. Hes been a great pro for a long time and if you look at his entire career, he always finds his way onto a roster and he always plays extremely well. Im very happy for him and we wish him well.