At 7-feet tall, Aussie Basketball player Andrew Bogut is a powerful presence to behold, on and off the court. (Photo: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew Bogut came to the United States from his native Australia as a 7-foot 18-year-old to play basketball at the University of Utah, where he earned national player of the year honors. He’s since played a decade in the NBA, spending more than half of every year packing his huge frame into planes and buses to travel to dozens of road games per season. Now, with a home in the Bay Area, playing for the Golden State Warriors, the 30-year-old center shares some of his travel stories and tips with Yahoo Travel about his life as a Road Warrior.
Yahoo Travel: What’s the toughest thing about life on the road in the NBA?
Andrew Bogut: Getting sleep. Your schedule is always messed up. You’re arriving at 2 or 3 a.m. in some city in a different time zone, then have to get up for practice, eat, maybe get in a nap, then go back out and play a game.
But the private charter flights help, right?
Sure, they’re great. It’s not like it was back in college when we were taking 12-seat commuter flights from Utah to Wyoming. We had a fair few bus trips as well.
Luxury charter planes like this Delta a319 feature extra legroom and tables perfect for playing poker, making them a favorite choice among NBA teams like the Golden Warriors. (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
How does a 7-footer fit in those seats?
You have to really fold yourself in there. My legs were always in the aisle, trying to dodge the stewardess trolley. You just have to grin and bear it. But it can be brutal, getting beat up on the court and then sitting for a couple hours in a seat that’s too small.
How about sleeping in regular hotel beds?
If you sleep diagonally, you get like an extra six inches of room or so. I never really get to stretch out. You get used to it.
What’s been your favorite road trip?
Definitely traveling with my mates on the Australian national team in tourneys around Europe. You get to visit some great cities, see amazing sights from the trains, and share it all with friends.
Andrew Bogut of Australia ® poses with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York, June 28, 2005. (Photo: REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine /Landov)
Was it a shock moving from Australia to start your NBA career in Milwaukee?
Well, it’s definitely not Melbourne! I arrived there in summer and thought, “What a beautiful place. This lake is amazing, everyone’s outside enjoying the sunshine. Why does Milwaukee get a bad rap?” Then winter came… I mean, I had never even seen snow at home. And it was just a whole new level of cold.
What do you pack for an NBA road trip?
I try to travel light, just the basics: toiletries, my laptop, maybe a couple books, and some cold-weather street clothes. I just leave the bag constantly packed at home ready for the next trip.
Fortunately for Bogut, being a pro-baller for one of the top standing teams has its perks, including a steady supply of size 18 shoes. (Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
I have to imagine as a 7-footer, just your shoes alone would fill a suitcase
Thankfully, the NBA guys take care of my basketball shoes, because they take up a s—-load of space!
What do you do in your free time on the road? See the sights? Go clubbing?
Nowadays I’m old [30!] So I don’t get out at night like the young guys — they can just bounce back the next day. I mostly stay off my feet, give my body a rest, and just order room service and watch some movies. Maybe go out for a bite with the fellas.
Flights are always a prime time to get some rest, but Andrew knows you have to be careful where you doze off, with so many teammates and camera phones around (hint: the table is rarely a good choice). (Photo: Andrew Bogut/Twitter)
How do you kill time on those long flights?
We have some good poker games on the team plane, watch a lot of movies, try to catch up on sleep. But you have to be careful sleeping, because Draymond Green is always ready to take a picture of you drooling or something and post it all over the Internet. He’s gotten three guys on this trip already.
Have you done much recreational traveling in the U.S.?
I usually just go back to Australia in the off-season. But I did just go up to Napa for the first time. I’m not much of a wine guy, but it was beautiful. Real quiet and calming. When I retire, I want to rent an RV or something and spend a few months driving around America, see the Grand Canyon and explore all those national parks. A dream would be to take some 1960s muscle car out there and let loose on the highways.
The beautiful town of Novalja on Pag island, Croatia, where Bogut owns an apartment. (Photo: Thinkstock)
So you really are the Road Warrior at heart?
Nah, as I’ve gotten older, travel is more about enjoying the quiet, the natural beauty. I’ve got a little shoebox-sized apartment on an island in Croatia (his parents’ homeland). The water is clean and beautiful. There aren’t many people around, you can just relax.
You mean you can’t relax on a bus traveling to Cleveland to bang against LeBron?
(Laughs.) I need some more rest.