Boomers Lose Bogut to NBA Lockout
The Australian Boomers have missed the chance to secure Milwaukee Bucks centre Andrew Bogut for their upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics qualifier due to the NBA lockout.
Aussie expat Bogut lined up for the Boomers in their 2008 Beijing Olympics bid, but his ongoing injuries saw him miss out on playing for the Australian national basketball team during the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Now an NBA lockout-associated insurance dispute has forced the Boomers to rule out Bogut for their FIBA-Oceania tournament roster this year.
It has been stipulated that any policy to insure Bogut’s remaining $39 million NBA salary would exclude coverage for his pre-existing back, wrist and elbow injuries.
Without adequate insurance, Bogut will miss the FIBA Oceania Championship series in September, which is a disappointing result for both player and team.
“Bogut has always held his national commitments and the Boomers’ program as a high priority throughout his career,” Basketball Australia boss Larry Sengstock said.
“It’s disappointing for us that we may not have him for the New Zealand series but it also highlights the level of player that he is.”
The hefty insurance costs associated with contracting players from the NBA means that a plethora of foreign basketball federations, including Australia, are unable to meet the huge financial burden of insuring star NBA players.
The NBA lockout means that many top global NBA players will be on the sidelines for this year’s FIBA tournaments.
“I think the majority of players, when it is all explained to them, just aren’t going to play, an international basketball executive said.
Federations have been left to cover full insurance costs on their own, the former offseason agreement between the FIBA and NBA to help keep down insurance coasts having been suspended.
“There is no good reason why FIBA was left to fend on its own,” Bogut’s agent David Bauman said.
“In this case the NBA is punishing all the countries they are using to build their worldwide influence and their global brand by making it so that these players are not able to partake in Olympic qualifying tournaments.”
While players may choose to play without insurance, they are unlikely to put their careers and prospective earnings in peril.
“The NBA is leaving these players in the lurch,” Bauman said.
“There is no reason why a July 1 lockout should have prevented the NBA, FIBA and the national federations from coming up with an adequate plan.”
The 2012 London Summer Olympics basketball competition will run from Saturday July 28, 2012 until Friday August 10.
So far the United States are the only team to have qualified for an Olympic position, while host-nation Great Britain will also be represented in the 12-team field.
“It’s possible that because of (the NBA lockout) basketball won’t be the biggest team sport at the Olympics,” former NBA and current Slovenia player Bostjan Nachbar said.
“It is extremely bad for growth of global basketball,” Nachbar stated in an email to ESPN.com.
“In recent years basketball has been on the upside, and the lockout definitely kills the momentum.
“Europe has its alternative in Euroleague, and many fans might turn to that league to satisfy the hunger for basketball, but I am not sure how other parts of the world will cope with not seeing their stars on the court.
“Will they chose to follow a different sport because of that? Probably.”
While Bogut has been ruled out, Australia have announced that one of their other NBA playing stars, Trail Blazers point guard Patty Mills, will be part of the 24-man squad for the ‘Golden Star’ Australian Boomers.
The Boomers will enter their Gold Coast training camp from July 25 – 29 to begin preparations for their three-game FIBA Oceania Championship series against New Zealand from September 7 – 11.
Boomers head coach Brett Brown remains confident that even without Bogut, other top players in the squad including Mills will be more than capable of stepping up and playing competitively.
“The NBA lockout has made his (Bogut’s) insurance issues impossible for Basketball Australia and Andrew to feel comfortable that his contract would be fully insured in the event of injury and, as a group, we understand and support Andrew,” Brown said.
“I am, however, excited to compete against New Zealand with the current group of players that are more than capable of representing Australia from a talent perspective and a spirit perspective that we all expect.”