Before March, Andrew Bogut was convinced “that the N.B.A. door had shut,” according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. Several injuries had sidelined the once-promising career of the former No. 1 pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005.
He was content to spend the rest of his playing days with the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League. In his native land, he was the league’s MVP after notching 11.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game.
In early March, he was resigned by his former team in Golden State. It brought the Warriors some international flavor, as well as a boost in interior defense. The 7-footer was an NBA Second-Team All-Defense member during the franchise’s NBA title run in 2015.
Here’s what you need to know about his Australian background, as well as his ethnicity.
Andrew Bogut’s History in Australia and Croatian Roots
While Bogut was born in Melbourne on Nov. 28, 1984, his family roots are actually Croatian. His parents Ankica (Anne) and Mišo (Michael) Bogut immigrated to Australia from what was then Yugoslavia in the 1970s, according to the Mercury News.
“My whole family is Croatian for as far as we look back on both sides,” he said to Daniel Brown back in 2016.
This connection to home has made former Croatian NBA stars Toni Kukoc and Drazen Petrovic his childhood idols.
Though Kukoc is his template, Drazen Petrovic was his idol. Petrovic is a Croatian who died in a car crash in 1993, just as he was emerging as a star with the New Jersey Nets. When Sports Illustrated visited Bogut at his college apartment in Utah, the reporter found a poster of Petrovic on the wall as well as pictures of the player meeting Petrovic’s parents in Zagreb.
“He was kind of an inspiration for a lot of the country,” Bogut says now. “A lot of people haven’t gotten over the tragedy of 1993. We’re still feeling that today.”
His Eastern European motivation doesn’t end there. In a profile with the Milwaukee Bucks team website, it mentions that he trained with Yugoslavian basketball coach Sinisa Markovic.
“I hired a private personal trainer,” he said. “I was always serious about the game, but didn’t really have a guide. Once I started training, I realized, ‘Hey, if I keep working hard, I can make something of this.’”
While he possesses Croatian blood, his heart is Down Under. He not only competes for the “Boomers,” the nickname for the national FIBA team, but his entire upbringing was very Aussie.
“When I was a kid, I played a lot of Australian rules football, and I played tennis,” Bogut said. “Australian rules football is the biggest sport there (in ‘The Land Down Under’).”
While he’s excelled in his home country on the international and national circuits, he has an affinity for Golden State, saying before he left Sydney that it “was basically Golden State or nothing” for his return to the NBA.
“The Golden State Warriors are a very special organization in my heart,” Bogut said to Stein. “I had a lot of great years there and won a championship. Even though they moved me, it was understandable to get a guy like Kevin Durant. I probably would have traded myself if I had the same opportunity.”