Ever since Andrew Bogut was a starry-eyed baller bouncing a basketball off the wall of his father’s carburettor business in Melbourne’s southeast, he dreamt of winning an Olympic medal for Australia.
The champion big man was driven to reach his fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo next year following the heartbreak of consecutive fourth-placed finishes in Rio in 2016 and the 2019 World Cup.
But in the end his battered body could no longer continue, prompting him to retire from all basketball “immediately”, a difficult decision announced via his own podcast, Rouges Bogues, on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old had been weighing up his future after parting ways with the Sydney Kings in late May, wanting to return to the NBL or NBA as a lead-up to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
However, following a foot operation as well as back surgery in July, the former NBA number one draft pick, and 2015 champion with the Golden State Warriors chose to hang up the sneakers after revealing he would need painkillers to play on.
As hard as it was to retire, and miss out on winning that elusive medal for the Boomers, Bogut knew he had to put his now pain-free body before basketball.
“I would’ve made this decision earlier if it wasn’t for the postponement of the Olympics. I was hoping to get to 2020 … and call it a day after that, and that would’ve been my fourth Olympics, and selfishly that would’ve been a great accolade to have four Olympics under your belt, but it’s just not meant to be,” Bogut said.
“I can’t physically and mentally get to 2021 with the way the body has been.
“I mean, I could, but with a lot of painkillers and a lot of physical and mental anguish but it is just not worth it at this point in my career.
“With my injury history I knew that if there were two years of NBA basketball playing even 20 minutes a night, I wouldn’t have made it.
“The decision hasn’t been an easy one, but I think it is the right decision.”
Congrats & thank you to @andrewbogut on an amazing career. We couldn't have asked for a better fit at the center spot- a dominant defender who owned the paint, a brilliant passer/screener who blended perfectly with Steph&Klay, and a player with incredible feel. Well done Boges!
Bogut, who played 14 seasons in the NBA after being taken as the No 1 draft pick by Milwaukee in 2005, said even getting out of bed in recent years had been hard after a career that included several major injuries.
But even though he was finally pain free, Bogut said he wanted to preserve his health for the rest of his post-basketball life.
“I’m not going to lie; the last two years have been a real challenge for me just to get out of bed in the mornings let alone going to a training session or a game,” he said.
“The body from 2018 onwards was hanging by a thread.
“In the 2019/2020 season that thread was completely frayed and in little pieces. It was beyond hanging by a thread.”
Bogut’s body reached breaking point during his second NBL season with the Sydney Kings.
“My body was basically saying I’ve had enough,” said Bogut, who won the NBL MVP in his maiden season with the Kings.
“For an 11am training session I’d have to get there at 9am and get physio for 30 minutes, stretch and warm up on the bike.
“I’d then have to bath myself in deep heat and those heat creams just to get to a training session.
“There were a few games when I didn’t know how I was going to play.
“It was really frustrating for me, but this off-season I’ve been able to get up in the mornings and walk pain free.
“I‘m really starting to value my health away from the court and my health when I’m 40, 45 and 50.
“Some people might say it’s only six months of training, but I’m at a point where I just can’t do it.”
A leader. A champion. A Warrior through and through.
Thank you for the countless memories, @andrewbogut. Enjoy retirement 💙 pic.twitter.com/LvAUY1B6IE
Bogut said his back flared up three months into the off-season in July and the pain was that intense he knew he had to act.
“It is basically a prolapsed, protruding disc that is sitting on your nerve on one side,” he said.
“The pain goes down the side back of your leg and then goes all the way to your big toe.
“It was just about a 10 out of 10 pain.”
Andrew Bogut suffered one of many injuries in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP
After a successful 15 season career in the NBA and in Australia, Bogut only has one regret.
“Probably not enjoying the moment more,” he said.
“When you are in your prime as a professional athlete, you probably lose sight of it being enjoyable and fun.
“At the same time it is a job and you take it seriously and you take losses hard.
“You take a bad game hard; you take getting traded or cut hard.
“At times professional athletes – we are selfish arseholes, to put it bluntly, and that is by design.
“You kind of have to be. It is a dog eat dog world and you are always competing against someone else growing up.
“You kind of get nulled into being selfish because you have to be.”
In the end, it was this razor-sharp focus and selfishness that helped Bogut finish his career as Australia’s greatest big man.
NBA games: 706 (Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas, Cleveland, Lakers)
NBA No 1 draft pick in 2005 with Milwaukee
NBA champion in 2015 with Golden State
NBA blocks leader 2011
NBL games: 59 (Sydney Kings)
NBL MVP 2019
All-NBL First Team 2019
NBL Best Defensive player 2019
FIBA Oceania Championship: 2015
Olympic Games: 2004, 2008 and 2016
FIBA World Championship: 2006
FIBA Junior World Championship: 2003 (Gold)
FIBA Junior World Championship MVP: 2003
FIBA World Cup in 2019
College: Utah Utes
National College Player of the Year in 2005
Consensus first-team All-American in 2005
No 4 singlet retired by Utah
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