Andrew Bogut is on a mission. It’s a topic near and dear to his heart. You can hear the determination in his voice when he speaks about it.
“The NBA needs to have a game in Australia,” Bogut says with a sort of righteous indignation. “We’ve been to every other continent.”
Bogut isn’t joking. He said he understands Australia, with a population of nearly 23 million, doesn’t have the global expansion possibilities of China and its 1.3 billion residents. And it doesn’t have the heart-warming, charity feel of trips to Africa, which the NBA does frequently through its Basketball Without Borders program.
But Bogut thinks his native country deserves some NBA love.
“Australia is the biggest international supporter of the NBA,” he said. “We were No. 1 international league pass subscriptions. No. 1 in international merchandise sales. In the summer, if you go to the beach, everyone’s wearing NBA tops and NBA hats.”
The NBA has set up shop in Africa, Brazil, China, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Turkey.
“The English Premiere League has been there,” Bogut said. “The NFL has played a preseason game there. NHL has been there. The Dodgers are coming (in 2014). Everyone but the NBA has been to Australia.”
Bogut said he would love for his family and friends, who can’t make it to the states, to be able to see him play live. But even if his team isn’t chosen, he said he still wants the NBA to make its way down under.
And as a cherry on top, Bogut said he assures Austrailia’s rich crop of celebrities — a list that includes Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts and Chris Hemsworth — will turn out.
“Since I was a kid, basketball has been big in Australia,” Bogut said. “The people will love it if we played a game there.”