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‘Pizzagate’ supporters claim injured NBA player benched for supporting conspiracy theory

Despite being repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers, the conspiracy theory known as "Pizzagate" lives on, and the people who still believe it are adding another conspiracy theory on top of it.

NBA center Andrew Bogut won a league title and signed a three-year, $36 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks this past summer. The big Australian is also a very active member of Twitter and has not hesitated to make his political beliefs known before. In particular, he has expressed contempt for the mainstream media and so-called "safe spaces."

But he surprised many in late November when he tweeted about "Pizzagate" — the fake news story that claimed Democrat Hillary Clinton was part of a child trafficking ring run out of the basement of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor. In his tweet, Bogut said that "If only 1% of this #pizzagate scandal is true, all people involved deserve life in prison (or worse)," despite the fact that the story had been debunked repeatedly.

As some of his Twitter followers challenged him on the statement, Bogut replied with several more tweets expressing credulity at the theory. He later deleted those tweets, but according to screenshots captured by Deadspin, he reiterated arguments from some of the theory's believers that media outlets could not be trusted to report the truth, that the pizzeria's owner had posted images of the ring and "#smoketheresfire," as he said in one tweet.

After Dec. 4, however, Bogut has not said anything else publicly about "Pizzagate." He did, however, suffer a knee injury on Dec. 5 that kept him out of 11 games before he returned to the court Thursday.

And the timing of it all is suspicious to the remaining "Pizzagate" believers, one of whom posted on Reddit that Bogut "risked his career to help expose the truth" and insinuated that his injury was actually a cover-up for the truth: Bogut was benched for voicing his opinion.

"This is Dallas Mavericks Center Andrew Bogut," the post read. "After He Took To Twitter To Help Expose Pizzag*te, He Was Sidelined For 11 Games With a Mysterious "Injury." Bogut Risked His Career To Help Expose The Truth. Let's Make This The Top Google Search Result For "Hero."

The same user then pointed to the fact that Bogut played Thursday but will be held out of Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors as further proof that the injury is fake.

"Bogut played for 22 minutes in yesterday's game, and is otherwise healthy. However, since this post became viral, (Mavericks owner Mark) Cuban announced that Bogut will be re-benched for today's game, thanks to his supposed "injury." Today's game is against the Warriors, Bogut's former team. Had he played in this game, Bogut would have received a huge standing ovation. Is Cuban further punishing Bogut for exposing Pizzag*te? We must remain vigilant!" a second post read.

However, as Sports Illustrated points out, had the Mavericks wanted to punish Bogut for his comments, he would likely not have played Dec. 5, the day after he made them. There is also video footage of Bogut's Dec. 5 injury.

Furthermore, Bogut is considered notoriously injury-prone and has never played a full season since his rookie season in 2005-2006. He has also not played in at least 11 games every season since 2007-2008. He is in the midst of one of the worst seasons of his pro career, averaging nearly as many fouls (3.4) as points (3.5) per game. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle also told CSN that Bogut has volunteered to come off the bench this year, a claim which Bogut has not denied.

All told, all the available evidence points to Bogut's injury being merely the result of 12 years in the pros and bad luck.