Andrew Bogut thought his NBA career was over about a year ago, when he was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers and signed by the Sydney Kings in his native Australia.
And now, nearly 70 years after Arnie Ferrin won his second title with the Minneapolis Lakers, Bogut hopes to become the second former University of Utah player with two championship rings — although “rings” is merely an expression, in Ferrin’s case. Having contributed to Golden State’s first two runs to the NBA Finals in this decade, Bogut is back with the Warriors as they face Toronto in the series that starts Thursday.
Bogut, 34, signed with the Warriors in March after the National Basketball League season ended in Australia, and he's already thinking about a similar plan next year. “If it presents itself again, it's a pretty ideal situation,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I might've started a trend.”
The 7-foot center, who helped Golden State win the 2015 championship, became more vital to the Warriors in this year’s playoffs after DeMarcus Cousins was injured in Game 2 of a first-round series vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. Bogut posted eight points and 10 rebounds in a Game 3 victory and followed with eight points and 14 boards in 25 minutes of a Game 4 win.
He was needed less against Houston in the second round, but appeared at least briefly in all four games of the Warriors' sweep of Portland in the Western Conference finals. He'll be in the playing rotation to begin the Finals, with Kevin Durant sidelined for at least Game 1. Cousins also is expected to return at some point, so Bogut may not have much of a role as the series progresses.
But he's proven to be worth the Warriors' short-term investment in his second stint with the team, and intends to keep playing by honoring his commitment to Sydney for the 2019-20 season.
Bogut, who led the Utes to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in 2005, was a starter for Golden State during the bulk of the team's run to the 2015 championship. Warriors coach Steve Kerr famously used a small lineup in the last two games of the NBA Finals against Cleveland, keeping Bogut on the bench.
Golden State then lost to the Cavaliers in seven games in 2016. Bogut joined Billy McGill, Tom Chambers and Keith Van Horn among ex-Utes who lost in the NBA Finals.
Bogut would have faced former Ute stars Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright in Finals, but they were traded by Toronto in the past year.
Ferrin and Michael Doleac, who played a total of 69 seconds for Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals, are the only other ex-Utes with NBA championship rings. Ferrin played for Minneapolis in a 4-2 series win over Washington in the 1949 Basketball Association of America championship series. The NBA considers the last three years of the BAA part of its official history.
The Lakers then beat Syracuse in six games for the NBA title in 1950, although Ferrin didn't sense the impact of those achievements at the time. “We really didn't understand the significance,” he once said. “I'm not even sure we had a party, and we obviously didn't get a ring.”
Ferrin, now 93 and residing in Salt Lake City, retired from pro basketball a year later, believing the profession was unstable. He later became the general manager of the Utah Stars of the ABA in the 1970s and Utah’s athletic director in the ’80s.