WASHINGTON -- He hits timely corner three-pointers, typically defends one of the opposing team's top scorers and has come through in a pinch when put in the starting lineup.
Keith Bogans' most fulfilling task, however, might be channeling his inner stand-up comedian. His jokes and punch lines often turn the Nets' locker room into a television laugh track. Bogans is the Nets' resident class clown, taking a no-holds-barred approach while digging under his teammates' skin.
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No one is safe. Absolutely no one.
"I'm the joker," said Bogans, whose Nets (29-20) take on the Wizards (13-35) tonight. "I always joke and say you always need a guy on the team to bring everybody together. I don't let anybody off the hook."
If you ask Bogans, no one was in more need of a little unbuttoning than Joe Johnson. So he made sure he went to work on him right away.
"When Joe first got here, he was quiet, wouldn't talk to anybody," Bogans said. "Now we laugh and joke and say we can't get Joe to be quiet. I think in 10 years playing against Joe, he only said 10 words. Joe is a country boy from down South, been down there damn near his whole career. So I kind of just broke the ice, started cracking on him a little bit. He doesn't mind being joked on. Just don't do it in front of everybody."
Bogans paused. "So I do it in front of everybody."
A gabby Joe Johnson behind the scenes? Impossible. Could that really be true?
"I am going to have to agree with that," MarShon Brooks said. "Joe don't shut up now I mean, especially when Bogans gets him going. He definitely got him out of his shell."
Johnson has his own theories.
"Man, you know what? Because he messes with me every day," he said. "He's worse than fans. He heckles me more than anybody I know, my own teammate. I never thought I'd see the day. I don't think he has any friends on this team, to be honest with you. I really don't."
As soon as that last word rolled off Johnson's tongue, guess who emerged from his postgame shower?
"Oh, what's up, Keith?" Johnson shouted loud enough so Bogans could hear him.
Too bad Bogans wasn't around minutes earlier when Johnson jokingly painted him as a bad guy.
"He ain't ---- basically," Johnson cracked, "ain't never going to be ----. Put that in the paper. Quote Joe Johnson."
Besides using the verbal assault approach, Bogans goes the practical joke route. One stemmed from the brainchild of resident assistant joker Reggie Evans: filling up Brooks' Acura with popcorn in September.
"Oh, he was sick," Bogans said. "He had a brand-new car, butter and salt all over the place.''
"I didn't get the cocoa butter for about a week,'' Brooks said. "They told me to keep getting the cocoa butter and I was just . So I learned my lesson.''
But Brooks is just one of Bogans' many victims.
"Every team I've been on," Bogans said, "I've been the guy to joke with everybody, crack jokes. Don't let anybody off the hook. If Coach curses a guy out in practice, I'm the first one laughing. As soon as Coach turns around, I'm like, 'Yo, I'm not laughing.'
"Guys come in the morning, they know. The first thing they say is Bogs is talking ---- already. That's just my personality. That's me."