Last we saw Andrew Bogut, he was leaving the court during the 2016 NBA Finals after suffering yet another freak injury.
Those of us who were lightyears ahead of everything and knew Kevin Durant was coming to the Golden State Warriors might have known that it would end up being his last game in the blue and gold, but for the rest of us mere mortals it was simply an unfortunate ending for a pretty good season overall.
The good news for Bogut is that he did end up being able to rehab in time to join Australia for the Olympics and has started the tournament playing quite well, as reported by Michael Lee of The Vertical.
Playing free of a brace but wearing significant padding, Bogut has been surprisingly effective and explosive, catching alley-oop dunks and snaring rebounds despite spending most of the past few weeks focused on repairing his knee. “There is a lot of pride there for him,” Australian assistant coach and former NBA champion Luc Longley said of Bogut. “He really does care about his teammates and playing for his country. To see him play that well, that hard, that long. That’s leadership for us. They see a guy who makes x-million dollars, an old guy with nothing really to prove putting himself on the line and playing that hard, that does wonders for your group.”
Australia will need all that veteran leadership (and more) today when Bogut faces his former Warriors teammates Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Team USA, arguably the most anticipated scheduled match for U.S. fans.
While the U.S. has cruised to a 2-0 start, Australia had a tough game against Serbia in their second game after shocking France into submission in their opener. The U.S. obviously poses a bigger challenge than either, no matter how well Bogut or Dellavedova have been playing.
With plenty of star power just representing the Warriors alone, Bogut has urged his countrymen not to be starstruck as they face a tall task, as reported by Sam Amick of USA Today.
“If we go out there and are we’re intimidated by them and trying to get our shoes signed before the game, and a signed jersey, then we’re in the wrong mind-set,” said Bogut, the 31-year-old NBA veteran who was recently traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Dallas Mavericks. “(Facing the Americans is) the ultimate test. It’s the best team in the world, the best players in the world, so I think if we go out there with the right mind-set and compete with them, win or lose we’ll be happy with that.”
Whatever happens today, this will very likely be a better game than either for the first two so it’s worth tuning in to see how well Australia competes.