As Australians we support our fellow countrymen. We’ll support Aussie’s in sports we’ve never even heard of just because. When an athlete reaches a particular level in their career in a global sport such as basketball, the whole nation becomes infatuated with their every move. Andrew Bogut is at that level right now. Prior to his arm injury in April of 2010 (we won’t re-hash the gory details again, google it if you haven’t seen it) Bogut was on track to become Australia’s first ever NBA All-Star. That’s how high a level the kid from Endeavour Hills was playing at.
Coming back from an injury of that nature is hard even for a professional athlete with all the best team doctors at his disposal, but Bogut returned, even though he is the first to admit that he clearly struggled with his shooting. NBA players currently locked out have nothing but time on their hands – Bogut is still rehabbing the arm, which will be aided by a full off-season of shooting. “The arm is coming along pretty good. In hindsight last off season was tough. I didn’t shoot the ball once all off season (not by choice). Im already shooting the ball this off season along with lifting weights and conditioning. So its a positive sign that the elbow is getting better.”
Depending on when players are given the all-clear to return to work, the affable Aussie is anticipating he’ll be ready to play. “I am hopeful the arm will be 100% by the time the season starts. There is a lot of time [until the season begins] so there is no reason why it shouldn’t be,” he says.
As limited as he was during the 2010-11 campaign (his numbers were only down slightly), Bogut found other ways to contribute. “Numbers are important, but not as important as wins. I gave my best considering the obstacles that I had to face. I tried to concentrate on rebounding and defense. I knew my offense would come and go and had to take that in stride.”
Always a solid defender, Andrew led the League in blocks with an average of 2.5 swats per game but still, a team that was touted by many as a ‘darkhorse’ for the Eastern Conference crown (including us here at Starting5), battled with injuries to most of it’s key components. Floor general Brandon Jennings missed 19 games, Bogut 17, and not one player on the roster played all 82 for Milwaukee. Bogut doesn’t blame injuries for the Bucks lethargic campaign, rather inconsistency in their play.
“Injuries hurt us, but that wasn’t the only problem. We didn’t gel well as a team and it showed a lot with our inconsistencies. Our goal should be to be a playoff team. We are still a fair way away from challenging for the Eastern title, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t be in the mix for a play-off spot. We have the talent and depth, but in this league it all has to mesh,” Bogut states.
Still, with Bogut currently in the middle of a five-year extension he signed in 2008 and Brandon Jennings locked up through to 2012-13, it appears the cornerstones are in place for the Bucks to build around, Bogut, a loyal guy, was pragmatic in his response when asked if he would like to remain a one-club guy. “Remaining at one club is pretty rare for any athlete these days. But I will never get too comfortable as sports is a business. The day you get comfortable is the day you’re shipped.”
Although he will probably miss the Olympic Qualifiers due to insurance issues, Bogut is still keeping his eye on the Boomers. Without looking too far ahead to the 2012 London Olympics, he stresses that a team effort will be needed to get past New Zealand first. “Still a little early to be talking about London, we first have to beat NZ in a 3 game series to even get to London. We need good team balance and if we have to rely on one or two players, we will be in trouble.” Other than the national team, is Andrew keeping tabs on the local NBL? You bet he is, and he’s adamant that free-to-air coverage is a must if the games is to continue it’s upward trajectory, “The NBL has to keep free to air. It has made good strides the last year because of free to air. I think it will be a huge step back if we lost free to air coverage of this great game.”
Always willing to give back to hoops in Australia, is there a chance we could see the big guy come back and play in the NBL, perhaps in a similar fashion to how soccer’s A-League brings back a marquee player? Bogut won’t give too much away other than to say he will be involved in the game in some capacity. “My career still has a good 5-10 years until I consider moving out of the NBA, so its a little early to talk about that. I would definitely like to be involved with the game, whether it be coaching or managing a team, in Australia that is.”
Until then though, when he is holidaying on the Adriatic Coast while waiting for the NBA labor dispute to be settled, you can most probably find Andrew interacting with his fans on social media network, Twitter. Being the laid-back guy that he is Bogut even indulges the haters although on occasion he has to pull the “DILLIGAF’‘ card on those people. What, exactly, does that mean? “DILLIGAF is simple, google it,” says the Aussie with a smile.