BA: Let’s talk a little about Australian basketball for a minute. You’ve been pretty vocal in trying to get the NBA to play preseason games in Australia. Why did you feel you had to take up the cause?
AB: I think it’s important for the game. We haven’t had an NBA game there – the last interaction we’ve had formally from the NBA, if you don’t include the Kyrie [Irving] visit, was the Gary Payton and Jason Kidd visit back in ’93 or ’94.
I think getting a game out there for the youth that support the game [is important]. The NBA is huge in Australia, I think we’re kind of being left out because we’re a first world country and we’re [already] spending money on the NBA but we’re not getting that return that other countries are getting. They’re [NBA] are obviously trying to go to India and China because of the population trying to get the money [whereas] we’re already spending the money so they kind of look at us like ‘we don’t need to invest’ as a business decision.
I find that disappointing somewhat, so I’ve said we deserve a game and I think it should happen in the next couple of years.
BA: What’s your future with the Australian national team? You’re obviously looking to rest the body during the NBA off-season. Are you still looking to play the World Championships?
AB: World Champs I’m not too sure right now. The body is still a concern for me and I know how much I got out of this last off-season because of the rest and regime I put together.
My immediate goal with the national team is to definitely play in 2016 [at the Olympics] anything in between is up in the air right now. I haven’t made a solid decision. I have to be smart. I’m at the tail end of my career, I probably only have a handful of good years left and I know my body can’t take a consistent 12-months of basketball a year right now.
Although I’d love it to, it just doesn’t work, and people will look at it like ‘he just signed his contract, [he’s] selfish, blah, blah, blah’----
BA: I know you’ve heard that criticism in the past as well.
AB: That’s just the way it is. People say that [but] in reality it’s not the case. I’ve been playing for the national team when we had two pizzas for the team split between us. It was one slice each. I’ve paid my dues and I have no problem telling people that. It is unfortunate, but I’m at a point in my career where I have to selfish more than anything.
BA: We’ve got four Aussies in the NBA now. The most we’ve ever had at any one time. What does that mean for the future of the sport, and also in regards to mainstream media coverage?
AB: Hopefully more attention, more reporters coming over here. I know they love the NFL stories when a footy player goes over there, but I think it’s all AFL driven mainly.
The more NBA players we can get over here – not only for the media coverage – it will just show kids that it’s possible, rather than have one or two guys every decade, or every five years, now we’re starting to consistently get….Dante’s coming through, Ben Simmons is coming through. Matty Dellavedova just got picked up. We’re starting to have guys consistently come over and play.
Young kids see that, and see the pathways that all these guys have taken, I think it’s going to definitely help those kids get here one day.
BA: What do you think of this new generation of players coming through?
AB: I’m excited. I think Dante’s probably our biggest prospect in a number of years - probably since me - coming out and being a top 5 prospect ---
BA: They say Ben Simmons is a top 5 pick the year after as well.
AB: Yeah, Ben Simmons as well. I think Ben’s got a little bit more work to do than Dante at this point, but I think Dante may obviously bypass college and go straight to the league but Ben Simmons is the other one. There are definitely a couple of kids coming through that really have a chance to do something special.
BA: What’s in store for Andrew Bogut over the next few months? What are your individual goals? Obviously the team goal is to win a championship.
AB: Yeah, team goal for us is to win a championship. My personal goal is to rebound and block shots. I mean, offense will come and go. I’d be silly to go knock on the gym door and say, ‘trade me or give me touches.’ I mean you’ve got Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, I know where I am on the totem pole and I haven’t got a problem with that.
They’re proven scorers so [I’m going to] rebound, block shots and be the anchor of our defense, and try and hold teams under 40% for the season, is kind of my goal and I want to be a part of that.
BA: There were a couple of seasons while you were in Milwaukee before the first injury where you probably could have made the All-Star team –
AB: Yeah, made All-NBA.
BA: Is that a goal of yours, to make the All-Star team?
AB: If it comes, it comes. The only way I’ll make it is trying to make the all-defensive team and become a premier defender. I think I’m an elite defender in this league, and that’s the only way I’m going to make it. Offensively, some nights I’ll have 4 points, some nights I’ll have 15-16. I just have to stay positive with all that and not let it affect me. I think with the All-Star thing, if it happens it’s nice, if it doesn’t I’m not too worried.
I’d rather be on a winning team than try to put up numbers on a bad team.