Keith Bogans is playing in the Summer League at age 35. Can he find his way onto an NBA roster?
The NBA Summer League is always jam-packed with interesting personalities. As much as it may seem like just basketball, a quick look at the players running the court and the teams that suit up for each game shows that the storylines are what make the experience intriguing. There’s the highly touted rookie with lofty expectations, the unproven NBA player out to make a statement, or even the undrafted rookie with professional aspirations, and the list goes on.
One demographic that may seem less common in Summer League play is a 35-year old, 11 year NBA veteran with the innate drive to lace up his game-day shoes in July.
That is the exact mold that shooting guard Keith Bogans fit in this summer.
After taking the 2014-15 season off of NBA competition, Bogans is back on the circuit, appearing on the Portland Trail Blazers Summer League team. In fact, the last time Bogans played in the Summer League was when it first started in 2004. Playing alongside teammates as young as 19 has surely given him some perspective.
“I’m a little older,” Bogans told Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders. “Whether I’m playing for team where they’re competing for a championship or if I’m helping out with the young guys, I’m just here to let it be known that I love to play the game of basketball, and it doesn’t matter what situation I’m in.”
Bogans didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard in four games, with averages of only 0.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. But he continued to be what he has been throughout his NBA career: a glue guy.
“I didn’t think I was too good to come play Summer League,” Bogans said. “It was my idea. It ain’t like, ‘Keith, you gotta play Summer League,’ you know? I wanted to play.”
It’s been a while since Bogans has appeared in an NBA game. He has not suited up for a regular season game since being allegedly dismissed from the Boston Celtics in January of 2014. After being shipped to Boston aspart of a larger exchange that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, Bogans voiced his discouragement from his lack of playing time. It didn’t take long for coach Brad Stevens to take action, sending him home for the rest of the season while the Celtics used his name and contract as a trade pawn.
He was subsequently traded from team to team as the media chattered about his incident in Boston. One specific incident that Bogans cited was a statement made by Celtics commentator Mike Gorman, which included claims that he was involved in an incident on the team bus as a result of his frustration. Bogans denies this rumor.
“I’ve never had a confrontation,” Bogans said. “To go to a young team, (and be asked) to go home? That looks bad on my résumé. It looked like I didn’t want to be there, when the whole time all I wanted to do was help, whether you play me or you don’t play me. And of course that makes me mad. And that’s why I’m back right now.”
“For a role player like me, character is everything,” Bogans added.
Bogans has certainly been the epitome of a role player in his 11 years in the NBA. Between stints with the Celtics, Bobcats, Magic, Bulls, Rockets, Bucks, Spurs, Nets and now the Trail Blazers, Bogans solidified his place as a great perimeter defender and spot-up shooter.
His main concern since leaving the NBA was his physical condition. Since being waived, Bogans claims he’s lost 20 pounds and has sharpened his game. And while he didn’t exactly blow the world away in the Summer League, he certainly showed teams that he’s back and serious about an NBA return in 2015-16.
“My goal for next season is not to be at home sitting on the couch,” Bogans concluded. “I definitely want to play in this league again. It’s what I love to do, and we’re just going to have to see what happens.”
Edited by Justin Peroff.
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