Luc Longley, former big man of the Bulls in the 90’s, had high praise for his fellow Australian, Andrew Bogut in comparing him to the great Michael Jordan.
One what is the biggest surprise in Olympic basketball in Rio, Australia is taking Rio by storm with their impressive ball movement and glue like chemistry.
Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova man a backcourt that displays the unique combination of scoring and defense. Joe Ingles gives them a small forward that combines grit and an outside shot. Down low, it’s Aron Baynes with his red, viking-like beard and weird man bun manning the paint.
But the focal point of team is Andrew Bogut.
After clearing himself to play just days before the first game in Rio, Bogut made his debut in his first game action since getting hurt in the Finals…and what a heck of a debut. From multiple alley oops to savey passes across the paint, Bogut put on an absolute show against France in the opening game. He finished with 18 points, four rebounds, five assists, and a +26 PER.
Australia put the world on notice and they never let up. After only losing to Team USA by10 points and going 4-1 in the group stage, Andrew Bogut and Australia put out Lithuania in the first game of the knockout stage.
But none of this happens without Andrew Bogut. Bogut has displayed parts of his game that simply wasn’t put on display in Golden State. Everyone knew about his defense presence above the rim, but nobody foreseen the playmaking, offensive impact that he would have on the Australian team.
But sometimes it’s his impact off the court that matters the most.
On August 3rd, Bogut (who is very active on social media) took to his Twitter account to post a picture of the complete Australian squad. But to many Americans, it was an assistant coach that grabbed their attention.
Manning the left side of the team photo was none other than assistant coach, Luc Longley, the former starting center for three NBA champion Chicago Bulls teams in the 90’s.
For a certain generation, it was a front court of Longley and Dennis Rodman that everyone remembers watching battle down low as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the team to three consecutive titles in the late 90’s. Now, the big man is an assistant coach on his native Australian team where he is seeing first hand the dominance the team is displaying in Rio.
For Longley, it was his first time getting to work with the veteran Andrew Bogut and he has been nothing but impressed. Not only is he impressed, but he even compared his impact to the team to the impact that his old teammate, Michael Jordan, had on the Chicago Bulls in an interview with David Aldridge.
"“The dynamics of the group are complicated, but it’s really clear what he’s brought — a degree of, confidence is not a good enough word, and arrogance is too strong,” Longley said. “It’s somewhere in there. There’s a few four-letter words we could use. You can use them. But he’s definitely brought some mass, some attitude, some bearing to our group. MJ did it with the Bulls in my experience, and even with MJ on the bench we all carried that, because he was around. Andrew does that with us. He’s so respected and he’s such a good basketballer. When he’s not playing and he’s sitting on the bench, it’s like having a fourth assistant coach … I’d never worked with him before and so I didn’t know what to expect, and I’ve been very impressed.”"
Read the full Aldridge piece here.
Bogut brings an edge to this Australian team that not every Olympic team has. He doesn’t care how big of a star you are or what country you play for, he is going to play his physical game with the mindset of winning the game.
Longley comparing the presence Bogut has on the team to MJ on the Bulls is incredible, but you actually can see it when you watch Australia play. Bogut sets the tone not just on the court, but on the bench also.
Mavs fans couldn’t have asked for a better Olympic outing for their incoming center. His presence on both ends of the court will be warmly welcomed in Dallas, but it’s his presence on the team that Dallas has lacked since the Tyson Chandler championship days.