NEWARK -- New Jersey Nets guard Keith Bogans admitted that he felt disrespected by the way his former team, the Chicago Bulls, handled the end of his tenure in Chicago. Bogans, who started every game for the Bulls a season ago, was pulled off the Berto Center floor just before the first official training camp practice on Dec. 9th. The Bulls decided not to pick up the team option they had for him and ended up waiving him a week later.
"Who wouldn't (feel disrespected)?" he said before Monday night's game against his former team. "We're all men first, man. We're men before basketball players. I don't want to say the wrong thing so I'm going to be quiet and let it go. Don't even ask no more about that."
Bogans was a well-respected figure in the Bulls' locker room during his year in Chicago. His teammates and coaches loved his work ethic and continually praised him for his professionalism. Ultimately though, Bogans became a target of fans' displeasure because of his limited offensive skills. The Bulls felt they had to upgrade at the two guard position and decided to sign veteran guard Rip Hamilton to replace Bogans.
"It was tough," Bogans said of the entire situation. "Right now I'm at that point where I don't even care to talk about it no more. It was a learning experience for me. I just looked at it as I'm going to take it and turn it into a positive and make them make me work my ass off. And that's what I did. It was fun playing with them last year, but as far as (the Bulls' situation), I'm done with it."
Bogans said he still frequently speaks to some of his former Bulls' teammates.
"I stay in contact with everybody on that team," he said. "All those guys hit me up wanting to know how and why and I couldn't answer that. I still can't answer it. When I signed I got a call from all of them congratulating me saying, 'Finally.' They were just happy seeing me back playing again because nobody understood what happened."
Bogans, who has now played for seven different NBA teams in his career, admitted that he would be a little more fired up than usual to face his old team. He also conceded that last season's run with the Bulls was one of the best he's had in basketball.
"I had a great time," he said. "I wouldn't trade it for the world. We won 60 games almost (62), went to the Eastern Conference finals. It was one of the best years of my NBA career. Definitely wouldn't take nothing from that and that's one of the best things that happened to me last year."
Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau isn't surprised that Bogans finally landed in New Jersey. The veteran signed with the Nets last week.
"Keith's Keith," Thibodeau said. "He does his job every night. He's going to play great defense. He's going to knock down the open threes. Brings a lot of toughness to the team. And he fits in to what they're doing."
For Bogans, as hard as it has been to forget about the way the Bulls handled the situation, he has tried his best to move past the situation.
"It's a new team for me," he said. "I'm going forward, I'm not looking back. A good young team trying to rebuild and I'm trying to help the young guys get better."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.