Seven-foot tall. NBA first-round draft pick. NBA champion.-Melbournetv
It is an impressive snapshot of Sydney’s newest basketball recruit, Andrew Bogut.
The 33-year-old Melburnian has spent the last 15 years plying his trade in the USA. More than a decade of that time was spent competing in the world’s elite basketball league, the NBA.
Now he has decided to call Australia home, once again, to join the Kings in the NBL.
The news surprised some whilst others saw it coming, like former Kings player and coach, Shane Heal.
“It’s a great day for Australian basketball,” Heal said.
“The Kings have done the work, they’ve thrown the money at him, and understood the importance of a big-name player … to try and make the finals.”
As the NBL enjoys a renaissance with crowd figures up and an overall improvement in the playing standard, another former Sydney Kings coach and Australian Boomers assistant, Alan Black, believes an “icon” like Bogut can only bring upside to the sport, domestically.
“Anytime you get someone of Andrew Bogut’s stature playing the NBL is fantastic,” Black said.
“He’s such a presence, physically and from his experiences from what he’s done and where he’s been.
“If you can get people coming back either out of the NBA or Europe into the NBL, it’s only got to be good for Australian basketball.”
Heal has no doubt Bogut still has what it takes to play in the NBA.
The former Boomer and NBA player also said Bogut’s call to return to Australia will create further interest in the now privately owned league.
“It’s a big endorsement for NBL about where it’s at that he actually wants to come and play whilst he’s still got good minutes to play,” Heal said.
“For the other clubs, they’re going to benefit as well, because everywhere Andrew Bogut goes on the road they will sellout their stadiums.
“This isn’t just good for the Sydney Kings, this is good for Australian basketball and the NBL.”
The centre’s imposing on-court stature is matched by his off-court persona, including a sizeable social media following in the hundreds of thousands.
However, his willingness to be outspoken could result in some unwanted attention for the league.
He will not just be holding the Kings’ court, he will be holding court as the unofficial face of the NBL.
“I’m pretty sure Andrew Bogut won’t be short of an opinion,” Black said.
“He’s not afraid to have an opinion and I think he’ll quite enjoy the limelight.”
Bogut’s Kings shirt a guaranteed earner
Enquiries about merchandise have already begun.
Just as Australian Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers jersey is one of the NBA’s top 10 sellers, local stockists are expecting a similar rush for Bogut’s purple and gold singlet.
“I don’t remember the last time we’ve had so many enquiries come through overnight … people asking about new stocks coming in,” retail supplier Michael Lazaris said.
“We’re already talking with the suppliers about stock levels and making sure that we’re getting everything in time for the season.