Andrew Bogut on how Australian basketball is taking on the world
Sydney Kings star Andrew Bogut says he couldn’t have imagined the rise Australian basketball has gone through over the last decade.
Australia’s presence in the basketball world is at the greatest it’s ever been with a whopping 12 players currently playing in the NBA – and that’s without Bogut.
While it’s not just on the other side of the world where the Aussies are dominating, with Bogut describing the NBL as one of the top five leagues around the world.
Bogut – a former NBA superstar – signed a two-year deal with the powerhouse franchise back in April without an NBA get-out clause to reaffirm his commitment to the Kings cause and help the club achieve their best result since re-entering the competition in 2010.
“I think the EuroLeague is still probably ahead of the NBL,” Bogut said.
“The EuroLeague is the best couple of teams from each country, I think the Spanish League and maybe Greece and a few other countries, the best two or three teams are ahead of the NBL and then it’s open-sided after that.
“I do believe it’s in the top five leagues in the world and I’d love to see some sort of a World Club Cup to come back, so we can go and test ourselves against other club sides.
“It’s one of the closest seasons we’ve had, the rosters are pretty even, there’s been so many overtime games.
“I think a three-way tie for first says it all, it hasn’t happened in a number of years.
“It’s been a very competitive season and it’s getting better and better and another team coming into the league next year to make it nine teams, it’ll make it better.”
High expectations were immediately placed on Bogut and the Kings once he arrived in Sydney and it all culminated in him winning the NBL’s MVP award ahead of Casper Ware and Bryce Cotton.
The Kings will play Melbourne United in an exciting semi-final series beginning on Thursday in Melbourne in a bid to qualify for the Grand Final series against Perth or Brisbane.
The 34-year-old also took out the Defensive Player of the Year award after playing all 28 games for the franchise and finishing with 77 blocks throughout the season. He also averaged 11.6 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
Bogut who’s played for five NBA teams including the championship winning powerhouse Golden State Warriors says he never would have thought there’d be this many Australians playing in the NBA – after he was drafted as the top pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
He says it’s great to see Australian basketball flourishing with the likes of Ben Simmons and Thon Maker making their names in the US.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Bogut said.
“A lot went into getting into that position, it’s mind-blowing to think that only two or three years earlier I was struggling to make state representative sides.
“It all kind of happened very quickly, but once I got to the NBA and I was playing and for a number of years as the lone Aussie.
“I’d get frustrated because I’d have other teammates from Argentina, Croatia and Serbia and they’d all have national teammates they’d go to dinner with on the road when we were playing against them and I was one of the few blokes who didn’t, I kind of felt left out.
“To see where it’s got to now, you’ve got double digit Australians playing in the NBA, no-one would have ever thought that was possible.
“If you’d asked someone 10 or 15 years ago, to say not only have we had number one picks and a national team side with NBA talent, they would have told you, you were crazy.
“It’s a very good time for Australian basketball and hopefully we continue that arrow going in that upward direction and get to 20 or 30 and hopefully more.”
Sydney – who finished third on the NBL ladder with 18 wins equal with Melbourne United and the top of the table Perth Wildcats will travel to Melbourne on Wednesday – as they search for their first championship since 2005.
Click ‘play’ to hear the full interview below.