Helen Jurisic: "I'm the proudest grandmother in the world today."
Bogut's in the big Bucks as No.1 pick
By Martin Blake
June 30, 2005
Cap that â€¦ Bogut after he was drafted as No.1
He was always going to the NBA. It was just a matter of a number for Andrew Bogut, Australian basketball's latest and most famous export.
NBA commissioner David Stern stood before a lectern at Madison Square Garden in New York and read from a card: "With their first pick, the Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Bogut."
With a hug for his father Michael and mother Ann, Bogut stepped into the sporting stratosphere. In the land of opportunity, someone jammed a Bucks cap on his head just before he shook hands with Stern, towering over the man who has presided over the game for some years. Welcome to the Big Time.
At the Lexus Centre in Melbourne, Collingwood's home territory, a crowd had gathered at the NBA's behest for breakfast and to watch the draft telecast on ESPN and see if the speculation about Bogut's being the No.1 selection would be correct. When it turned out to be so, his grandmother Helen Jurisic, who emigrated to Melbourne from Zagreb in Croatia 30 years ago, was handed the microphone.
"I think you deserve it," she told the 20-year-old, who was listening on a satellite hook-up from New York. "I'm the proudest grandmother in the world today."
AdvertisementBogut, 213 centimetres, is not the first Australian to reach the NBA. The likes of Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal, Chris Anstey and Luc Longley have done it before him, the latter winning three championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.
But Bogut is the first Australian to be the No.1 draft pick and as such becomes the hottest property in US basketball.
The sport in this country quickly claimed this as its little piece of history.
He will earn $US14.2 million ($19m) in his first three years with the Bucks, who missed the NBA play-offs this year. A new endorsement deal with Nike is likely to earn him another $US5m over five years, and his new agent said this week that Bogut would probably earn $US100m during his career.
Bogut intends buying "a house and a car" with his new-found wealth, and will fulfil another dream when he buys a Monaro back at home. He could afford something better, an interviewer suggested. "That's just for Australia," Bogut retorted.
His start has not been without a hitch or two. Earlier this week, finding himself the centre of pre- draft attention in New York, Bogut said he did not want to be compared with the likes of Longley, Gaze, Anstey or Heal, implying that he was better.
Yesterday Longley said he would advise Bogut to "pull his head in and get on with the job for a while before he starts mouthing off".
"My advice to Andrew Bogut would probably be that there's a good time for blowing your own horn, and that's when you've got the runs on the board, and that being drafted doesn't prove anything," Longley said.
"Now's when he proves himself. I'm sure he will."
Bogut yesterday backed down from his earlier comments: "I'm very disappointed in the way things were written," he said. "I definitely would not be up here without him [Andrew Gaze], Shane Heal, Luc Longley. It was certainly taken out of context and I want to apologise â€¦ it was not what I meant."
Two of his junior coaches at Dandenong, Daniel and Joe Ramanauskas, came along with a photo of one of his Rangers teams, Bogut in the middle wearing the No.10 on his jersey. Bogut has said that his omission from an under-16s team drove him to his success, a fact that the Ramanauskases (the brother and father of Essendon footballer Adam) wanted to clarify.
"I don't think he was ever cut," Daniel Ramanauskas said. "There was an abundance of tall kids and he got put into the second side. It was more for him to develop and play more minutes. At the time he might have thought it a kick in the guts, but look at him today. We're just so proud of the kid and to say we've had some minute part of the kid getting there, it's incredible."