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With the NBA season over, and out for the time being, Milwaukee Bucks big man Andrew Bogut has been back in Australia for some rest and recuperation. Although Milwaukee is considered a small market by NBA standards, a return to his home country must be a welcome change compared to the hustle and bustle of life in the NBA. We caught up with Andrew in June to discuss a number of topics ranging from the NBA to the NBL and even his beloved Essendon Bombers.
As the casual fan can see through the likes of Twitter, Andrew has been keeping himself busy catching up with family and friends, talking cars, watching Essendon play in the AFL and religiously catching every episode of Angry Boys. We contacted Andrew and he was more than happy to answer a range of questions for Hoop Diary and for that we are very grateful.
Hoop Diary: We are committed to returning Basketball to the Australian National consciousness, and we’d love to know what you think needs to happen to help achieve that goal. Does Australian Basketball need changes at the grass roots level, a higher level of national marketing for the professional product, or something else entirely?
Andrew Bogut: I think Free to Air TV is huge. We need to keep that going first and foremost. I think the game is in good stead in the junior ranks. Participation levels are very high, but these kids are not getting to NBL games. I think marketing at these junior stadiums is very important. When was the last time you walked into a local association and saw huge posters of NBL stars?
Paul: Straight off the top Bogut makes a great point. The last time I saw a “measure-up” poster of an NBL player at a stadium it was Simon Dwight and he’s been out of the league for a while now. Grassroots has never been an issue but the NBL isn’t appreciated the way it should be.
HD: With rumours swirling that there may be a second Melbourne team added to the NBL for the 2012/13 season, do you think that Melbourne is ready to support two teams again as it did in the Magic vs. Tigers days?
AB: Yes, but it has to be done right. I think some rural areas in Victoria could definitely support a team very well also. Ballarat would be a prime example in my opinion. I think Wollongong proved what a community based team can achieve the last couple of years.
Paul: Again, a great point. The Hoop Diary crew have often had discussions based around the Geelong Supercats and why they haven’t re-joined the NBL.
Ryan: Some SEABL clubs have such strong support, and while it’s a big step up in financial outlay, it’s at the very least a possibility. Canberra has a long and storied history in the NBL and it would be great to see our capital return to the competition.
HD: There is a high number of Australian’s playing College ball in the US. How do we ensure that those players come home to play in local leagues rather than play in Europe? Is it just financial, or do you think there are other ways to keep top young talent in Australia?
AB: Financial is a huge key. Players in Europe earn their money tax free, and unfortunately the pay is much higher than the NBL. I think College [Basketball] is a great experience and I encourage all young players to at least try it, although the NBL doesn’t like to hear that, it gives kids a life experience and can help prolong a young players [Basketball] career.
HD: While playing overseas, what do you miss the most about Australia? (Aside from family and friends)
AB: Family and Friends 🙂 Just the simple things, like going to the footy, eating at the local bakery on a sunday morning, or getting a speeding fine for going 2 KM/H over the limit…
Paul: This is what I enjoy most about Bogut, his normality. If you follow Andrew on Twitter you don’t get that staged “look at me” experience that athletes often provide. It’s always the basics and it never gives one the impression that Bogut is trying to please someone else.
HD: Despite not making the Playoffs last season, the Milwaukee Bucks roster is quite diverse and talented. What do you guys need to do differently in the 2011/12 NBA season to get back into the Playoffs and become a contender?
AB: WIN! We just all need to get on the same page chemistry wise and I think all will be okay. We had a lot of injuries also, so here’s hoping we all come back in very good shape and injury free.
Paul: With the addition of Stephen Jackson I really think the Bucks will make their way onto a few extra people’s radar and League Pass this year. With an ever improving Brandon Jennings and a completely healthy Bogut, this team has Playoffs written all over it.
Ryan: The Bucks are indeed strongly placed for next season. Read my full preview on Bogut’s Bucks here.
HD: In a time when loyalty seems to mean little in professional sports it’s refreshing to see a guy stay with one team his whole career. Can you give our readers some insight in to what factors come in to play when making a decision regarding free agency/contract extension etc?
AB: I haven’t been through free agency myself so I can’t really comment on that. All in all the NBA much like any other sports league is a business. You always appreciate being somewhere long term, but never take it for granted. The day you do is the day you get the phone call to pack your bags!
HD: Being a huge Essendon fan, what do you think the Bombers need to do to get back to their early season form? Also, which NBA players you’ve faced could adapt and perhaps play AFL in your opinion?
AB: I think we (Essendon) are young and started the season with a lot of energy. We have lost our legs a little lately and this is normal of a young team. This season was never going to be a Premiership season, so we will take our lumps and keep moving forward. AFL, hmmm probably a guy like Baron Davis, strong, explosive and thick.
Paul: With this chat being in June, I didn’t foresee Bogut’s Bombers meeting my Blues in the first round of the AFL Finals. If I had known this, I may requested this question be left out in fear of pending sledging if Essendon get up. As for Baron Davis, I can see that… the kid could definitely give and take a hit.
Ryan: I really like the Baron Davis pick, he’s not someone I would have thought of straight away. Seeing LeBron lining up at centre half forward would be scary. Like a genetically engineered Wayne Carey.
HD: Undoubtedly you’ve experienced a lot of fun times on and off the court during your NBA career. Can you share with our readers one story that stands out in your mind?
AB: Is this PG or R18+? My best experience overall is seeing all corners of the globe simply because I play Basketball. By the time I was 20 I had been to every continent but Africa. Very thankful.
Paul: What an amazing experience for a 20 year-old. The thing we often forget as fans/media is that we see players grow up before our eyes on court but there are so many other potential distractions off court. To experience all of that travel and exposure at such a young age has tainted many but it’s great to see that Bogut has never fallen into that trap. We’re also quite thankful the big fella kept it PG for our age-diverse Hoop Diary audience.
HD: Paul has asked this question of Larry Sengstock, Cam Tragardh and Daniel Dillon with mixed results. We would love to get your opinion as you’re exposed to this rule every day. Do you think the NBL would benefit from introducing the “Defensive 3 Second” rule?
AB: Not really. I think we stick to the same rules as the rest of the world (bar NBA) NBA is a different game in itself and should remain that way.
Paul: Well, that does it. My crusade for the Defensive Three Second rule will have to go on the back burner. If Andrew Bogut doesn’t think it’s needed then I’m happy to agree.
Once again we would like to thank Andrew for his time in giving us some insight into his thoughts on a range of topics. It’s a testament to his character (along with all our Aussie ballers) that he took time out of his schedule to give us this interview.
With NBL rumours swirling and the NBA in lock-down we wish the Bogeyman all the best and look forward to following his career wherever we next see him play.