The NBL’s Andrew Bogut boom was just about bringing his extraordinary talents home for Australian fans to enjoy courtside.
It was equally about using his profile to give basketball – a sport that has been on life support for the past three decades – some real bounce in the increasingly competitive summer market.
Part of the attraction of Bogut’s profile is his headline-grabbing personality. He is not your typical 21st century Australian athlete. He doesn’t obey the marketing, or even the PC, handbook, and that generates as much attention and publicity as his on-court feats.
So why all the hate over his stunt that hijacked the NBL’s 2018-19 award night?
In case you missed it, Bogut stayed in his seat when his name was read out as winner of the league’s best defensive player award. Instead, Sydney Kings team mate Dane Pineau strode onto stage to accept the trophy on Bogut’s behalf.
With the winner watching on in stitches, Pineau made a lengthy speech in Bogut’s persona. It was self-deprecating and dry – two comedic qualities that were once celebrated in Australian culture.
But judging by the reaction from fans on Twitter, times have changed. Fans roundly expressed their anger at Bogut, accusing him of disrespect and flippancy.
Seriously? Is this how serious we’ve become? Seriously?
On one hand, fans have been pleading for sports stars to show more of their personality. Bogut obliges. And what does he get in return? Criticism! Not even the NBL’s MVP can win on this one!
But boy did he try. Bogut’s response to the trolls was even more impressive than his stunt.
“No disrespect to the other guys who gave speeches, but the other speeches didn’t exactly set the world on fire,” he said.
“It was a four and a half, five-hour awards night. It lightened the mood a little bit. Some people didn’t know what the hell was going on — that made it even more fun — and then it blew up on social media, so the PR people were very, very happy with it.”
If we were working with NBL, we’d have to agree with Bogut. We’d be happy as well. His attitude is a refreshing beacon of renegade charisma that has lit-up a previously moribund sport.
More power to him.