“It’s like any other business. If you’re not performing you get moved on.”
This is what more than a decade’s worth of pro-balling in the NBA has taught Andrew Bogut. Some would even argue he’s had to learn it the hard way since adding a broken hand, broken ankle, broken leg, dislocated elbow, dodgy knees and regular stints in rehab to his impressive list of career battle scars.
With that said, the Australian is far from calling it quits. He’s a different kind of man who broke out onto the world scene in 2005, speaking with the same amount of determination but now with the added responsibility of a young family and his own side business in finance.
The 32-year-old is nursing an injured leg away from the bright lights of the game today. Between rehab Bogut admits his spare time is still just as sparse with a serious training schedule to keep him competitive and fatherly duties taking top priorities at the moment.
And how is newfound fatherhood treating him? He admits he’s a lot luckier than most guys thanks to a very supportive wife who’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting whilst he hones his game and fitness.
Behind The Glamorous Sport
The notion of proper parenting never escapes Andrew Bogut. Growing up as the son of a labourer father in Melbourne and Canberra, Bogut is adamant that his own child will not be raised under the NBA’s silver spoon. In the past he’s said to press that living the NBA life isn’t “a normal life”.
“I want my kid to get a job at McDonald’s at 15, to learn what hard work is. I see some kids at five with Gucci bags, I want to stay away from that.”
This world that Bogut describes is one that is often portrayed in the movies. Excessive money, flashy cars, and people who hang onto you for those exact reasons. Think of them as superficial enticements – and there’s nothing that can prepare a rising player from being chewed up and spat out by that machine except themselves.
“School or book smarts? You can’t get taught those lessons unless you see it yourself,” says Bogut.
“I think that’s the biggest thing. You have to be really, really cautious of everybody and everyone. With social media these days, it’s important to have values and not go off the rails.”
“I’ve always had the mindset of I can only control what’s in front of me.”
It might sound a bit autocratic to outsiders but Bogut has been behind the thin veil of American sporting glamour for long enough. He explains that with a high paying job in the spotlight there also comes the real possibility of being a target “for a lot of people”. As a realist he is also aware that this is just business at the end of the day, albeit a billion dollar one.
“If you can get a better CEO, you’ll do it. That’s the reality of our league.”
Other downfalls often overlooked on the court is purely of the personal nature and the lack of a real home. If a player settles in a city with their family and fosters any kind of social circle, all it would take is a phone call saying you’re moving to city ‘X’ and you’re back to square one.
“That’s the hardest part people don’t understand,” says Bogut. “It’s when you have kids.”
Resilience In The Game
With so many trappings to look out for in the NBA, it’s surprising to see that Bogut hasn’t cashed in his check and moved to a luxury island somewhere with his family yet.
Short of calling him a cyborg, the Australian basketballer continues to push and heal his body before throwing it all on the line again for another season. He’s even keen to partake in the 2020 Olympic Games if all goes to plan.
“I’ve always had the mindset of I can only control what’s in front of me. If it’s a broken leg, it’s a broken leg. I’ve got to go rehab everyday. Strengthen it, run on the pool, ice bars. If I have no injuries the next thing I address is getting my game better or staying in shape. It’s always being in the mindset of the next thing, the next thing, the next thing.”
“You’ll only depress yourself thinking ‘Oh I wish I didn’t break my leg, it sucks…It’s pointless. You’re wasting energy on something that’s happened. You learn from it and move on.”
And that’s why he does it. For the love of the sport he started playing for fun as a kid. He admits there are times when he doesn’t love the game. With some of the injuries he’s had over the past and the starting phase of the rehab, Bogut dreads those days where he’d in bed for four weeks straight, barely able to go to the bathroom let alone shower.
“You do question whether you love the game and want to do that all that again. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and once you start walking around and training again you definitely chew that love again.”
For The Love Of Balling
When the day does finally come and Bogut decides to call it a day from the NBA, it’s likely he will move back to Australia to raise his family and run his own business which oddly has nothing to do with the basketball. It will be in finance – a subject Bogut actually has a degree in.
“I self-manage all my finances and real estate projects,” he proudly boasts.
“I take reigns to that a bit more than I can. For me, I won’t have a 9 – 5 but I want to stay busy. I also want to have the freedom to pick my son up from school and do those things.”
The luxury of earning ridiculous amounts of money at a young age has helped Bogut set himself up for a comfortable future and he’s thankful for that. It’s something he plans to instil in his own son from the stark financial realities he’s akin to himself.
“Jet-skis and all that stuff. I spent money on stupid things as a kid and realise you just blew money on something stupid when I could have saved up and gotten something better.”
He recounts a younger time where he skipped buying NBA cards and saved up enough money to buy himself a small television and VCR so that he could record NBA games instead. These were player cards that actually moved and would form part of Bogut’s love for the game.
All In Good Timing
Andrew Bogut has a small affinity with watches and that could well be his only foolish splurge in the distant future. Having been supported by TAG Heuer for past five years of his career has definitely welcomed him to the best of both worlds – being financially responsible whilst satisfying a penchant for avant-garde Swiss watchmaking.
“They’re quality timepieces. From my rookie year until now, they’ve just gotten better and better every year, especially their latest Tourbillon piece which is priced really well.”
So here is a family man who knows his game inside and out, continues to push his body to the limits and has a pretty decent retirement plan to boot. Some call that a three-pointer but for Bogut the immediate pressure of the NBA and the reward it brings is exactly where he wants to be in life.