The Toronto Raptors left Milwaukee on Friday night with a 2-0 deficit and a season-defining game staring them in the face. The Bucks left with a big win and plenty of momentum, confident there’s still more they can do.
And Malcolm Brogdon left the building with $45,000 of Charles Barkley’s money.
Brogdon, one of the stars in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, visited Barkley and the rest of the TNT crew after the Bucks’ 125-103 win. At the end of the interview, Brogdon discussed his non-profit organization, Hoops2O, which provides clean water to underdeveloped communities in East Africa.
Barkley asked Brogdon how much a clean water well cost, and as soon as Brogdon responded, Barkley pledged a donation.
“You’ve got $45,000,” Barkley said. “I want a well.”
That Brogdon is doing good for others isn’t a surprise — he’s interested in public policy transformations that could improve the lives of people less privileged than him. Trips to Africa as a child instilled in him that desire. He’s nicknamed “The President” because of the Obama-like cadence in his voice and the way he carries himself.
Brogdon has been just as impressive on the court, despite missing most of the first two rounds of the playoffs after a late-season foot injury. Since his return, Brogdon has been fantastic.
“He's exceeded all of our expectations,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after Game 2. “He's done it all year, and he's such a pro. I guess it's what we expect from Malcolm.”
In three playoff games, Brogdon is averaging 13 points on 51.9 % shooting. With Brogdon on the court, the Bucks have been 47 points better than their opposition.
Brogdon has been an important piece for the Bucks since being taken in the second round of the 2016 draft — a distinction he still uses as motivation.
Before that draft, Brogdon worked out for the Clippers and was so impressive that J.J. Redick told Brogdon the Clippers would be foolish if they didn’t take him.
Like every other team that drafted in the first round, they passed.
“It's more than a chip. I thought I proved that I should have been one of the very top picks in the draft in my class. And the fact that I was even in the second round, it just added to my motivation, added to my fire,” Brogdon told The Times. “I remember every team that didn't draft me, every team that looked over me, every front office — I remember all of that. That's a reason why I work so hard every day; I want to prove those people wrong.”
A restricted free agent this summer, he’s coming off a season in which he joined the prestigious 50-40-90 club — when players shoot at least 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range and 90% from the free-throw line. The last player to do it was Stephen Curry in 2016.
If the Raptors hope to get back into this series, they must slow Brogdon and the rest of the Bucks’ role players. The Raptors have not been able to answer the energy and thrust of the Bucks, particularly Friday in Game 2.
“I could have probably summed up the postgame press conference by saying we were outworked, outhustled and outplayed. That's three outs; end of inning,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said Saturday. “We were out-physicaled, outhustled and outplayed, and we know we can play better than that.”
If Brogdon and the Bucks can play better than they have too, watch out.