Warriors' Andrew Bogut likens restoring cars to caring for battered body

OAKLAND, Calif. – Injury-riddled Andrew Bogut escapes his NBA frustrations by getting wrapped up into his love of old cars.

Andrew Bogut (C) drives between Pelicans Tyreke Evans (1) and Anthony Davis (23). (USA TODAY Sports)
Andrew Bogut (C) drives between Pelicans Tyreke Evans (1) and Anthony Davis (23). (USA TODAY Sports)

Bogut, the son of a mechanic, has owned as many as 35 vehicles and his latest passion off the court is restoring a 1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and a 1969 Shelby Mustang. It's not uncommon to see the 7-foot, 260-pound Australian searching for something vintage at car shows all over Northern California. And now that the Golden State Warriors center is sidelined again, he certainly sees the correlation between his adoration for refurbishing cars and the constant refurbishment of his own battered body.

"I'm like an old muscle car," Bogut, who is sidelined indefinitely with a right knee injury, told Yahoo Sports. "I just need a good service every now and then. There is a little bit of a correlation. You treat the old cars right hopefully it will do well. It's the same with my body. If I make sure I look after myself, I will be OK."

Bogut, born in Melbourne, has been around automobiles since birth. When he wasn't in school or playing basketball, he spent countless hours with his dad Miso at the auto shop falling more in love with cars.

"My dad had a lot of hot cars and cars that were souped up," said Bogut, who's averaged a team-high 9.3 rebounds along with 7.1 points in 20 games this season. "I worked in the workshop having a dad with a carburetor business. He had a small little warehouse he worked out of. That was where cars would come in. I was always around cars my whole life.

"I would be playing basketball a lot outside of it. But school holidays, we couldn't afford a babysitter so I always had to go to work with my dad. I was born around cars, motorbikes."

Bogut's first mode of transportation was a peewee motorbike at age 6. He was driving a motorcycle at 9. His father, who loves Harley motorcycles, also had speedboats and fishing boats that his son enjoyed.

Bogut's parents bought him his first car, an Australian Holden Commodore, when he was 17 years old. It had a price tag of around $9,000 American, which he promised to pay for half. Paying his parents back wasn't an issue for Bogut when he was selected as the No. 1 pick of the 2005 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville is part of Andrew Bogut's collection. (Courtesy the Golden State Warriors)
The 1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville is part of Andrew Bogut's collection. (Courtesy the Golden State Warriors)

With money in hand to enjoy his love for cars, Bogut acquired nearly three dozen automobiles, which he admits was quite overzealous. After refurbishing an old car, he would either keep it for himself or sell it for a modest profit of typically around $2,500-$5,000. Bogut's cars were stored in a garage back in Australia that was about two-thirds the size of the Warriors' mammoth practice gym, which includes two full-sized NBA courts. He says he eventually sold about two-thirds of the cars and now also uses his garage primarily for rental space.

"My dad, he likes the older cars, the '50s Buicks, the bigger kind of cars," Bogut said. "We went a little crazy importing cars to Australia. We've calmed it down right now. I could finally afford all these muscle cars you would only see in the calendar. So I kind of went a little crazy."

Bogut even got bamboozled on one car purchase.

"You got to be careful. I bought at a car at an auction, a '70 Gran Torino," Bogut said. "And it was a complete lemon. It had a lot of issues I later found. A lot of things you really couldn't inspect before an auction."

Like his father, Bogut is a big fan of old vintage cars, primarily from Australia and America.

"I like experiencing different cars from the '40s, '50s and '60s, '70s," Bogut, 30, said. "Older cars have their own soul. Like a '55 Buick, I didn't know how to start it. You have to put the key in and step on the accelerator to start the car. It wasn't manual. It was automatic. The ignition switch was in the pedal of the accelerator. It has a different feel and soul about it.

"They are all a lot of hard work and maintenance to stay on top of them. They are almost human like in a way. If you don't treat them properly, something can go wrong with them."

The same thing could be said for Bogut's body during his injury-plagued NBA career that is now in its 10th season.

Andrew Bogut is no stranger to watching from the bench in street clothes. (USA TODAY Sports)
Andrew Bogut is no stranger to watching from the bench in street clothes. (USA TODAY Sports)

Bogut's best season came in 2009-10 when he had a career-high 15.9 points with 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the Bucks. However, he missed the final six games of the season after suffering a dislocated right elbow, sprained right wrist and a broken right hand following a hard fall in a game.

He would later suffer a broken left ankle on Jan. 25, 2012. He describes that ankle as still "sketchy."

"I have been through a lot of [expletive] in my career," Bogut said. "A broken elbow. I totally severed my right arm. Losing a lot of my touch in my right hand. Free throws went bad. Jumper went bad. I fought through that. The worst injury was my ankle and my ankle was going to get better eventually.

"I'll just keep fighting through it. I'm not a quitter. It's tough when you know you can't do things you usually do on the court. You have to adjust your game because of injuries, but it's a part of life."

An injured Bogut was part of a five-player trade that sent popular Warriors guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee in March 2012. Bogut didn't play a game for Golden State that season, undergoing follow-up surgery on his ankle that April.

Bogut played for the Warriors on opening night during the 2012-13 season after succumbing to the pressure to return. But he soon realized that was a mistake as his ankle still wasn't ready and he became sidelined again quickly. He missed 42 games during that season primarily to a left ankle injury as well as back spasms.

Bogut's injury woes reached a boiling point during the middle of that season, telling his agent David Baumann that he planned to retire at season's end.

"I called him midseason and said, 'I'm done, ' " said Bogut, whose Warriors are an NBA-best 21-3. "My back was so bad at the time. After every game it was like a balloon and it was like catching my tail to get back to the next game. If we had two games in three days, my ankles were really swollen. I had to get around the clock treatment, anti-inflammatories. It got to the point where it just wasn't responding.

"Part of it was my fault. I rushed back from that [ankle injury]. It was probably a 12-month recovery, at least. I came back from that surgery, tried to play in training camp, played five games. It was just stupid. I came back in January. Finished the season pretty strong. It was probably a stupid move on my part, but I wanted to play. It grinded on me a little bit and it wasn't getting better."

A 1969 Shelby Mustang (www.carmemories.com)
A 1969 Shelby Mustang (www.carmemories.com)

Bogut opted not to retire after playing well for the Warriors as they advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2013. He showed his commitment to continuing to play basketball by signing a three-year, $36 million contract extension with the Warriors in October 2013.

"Andrew is extremely integral to our team," Warriors general manager Bob Myers told Yahoo Sports. "His positive impact both offensively and defensively cannot be measured."

Bogut seemed on the right path when he started 67 games for the Warriors last season. But the injury bug bit him hard again as he missed the playoffs with a rib fracture suffered against Portland in April that was debilitating. Doctors feared that Bogut could puncture a lung if he tried to play against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. While there was hope that he could return to action in the middle of the second round, the Warriors lost to the Clippers in the deciding seventh game of their first-round series.

"I couldn't breathe. I couldn't sleep. I was basically laying on my stomach for the first week and half and watching the TV on my bed," Bogut said. "Every time I moved it was a sudden pain. I couldn't sneeze. Couldn't cough. I couldn't go to the bathroom. It started to get better, but the risk versus the reward was too high."

Bogut said he has had two career-threatening injuries in the NBA. And to make matters worse he learned from an MRI on his right knee on Dec. 10 that he had chondromalacia and a bone edema, which causes swelling and instability. He elected to undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy on his right knee on Wednesday and there is no timetable for his return.

With Bogut's long list of injuries in mind, how much longer does he want to continue to play?

"I got two years left [on my contract] and I will play it by ear," Bogut said. "My goal is to play these two years out and see where I'm at. I am having fun, but it's a grind though. Some days you wake up and you can't walk. It takes you an hour to get your body right, to get to the gym, get to your car. But that's a part of being a pro athlete.

"There are laborers out there breaking their backs for $40,000 a year. I'm not complaining by any means. But at the same time there will be a point in my career where I will say, 'Money versus health?' I will probably make a health decision."

The Clippers' ousting of the Warriors in the playoffs, the bad timing of his painful rib injury and the firing of coach Mark Jackson took a toll on Bogut.

"Coming from that injury last year, all the [expletive] we went through as a team, a coaching change, I went back to Australia and I didn't give it another thought for two or three months," said Bogut, whose daily car is a Chevy Raptor truck. "I had projects going on playing around with cars and stuff. I was cruising around catching up with friends. You have to have an outlet.

"Guys I see struggling in this league don't have an outlet outside of basketball. Some of the greats are like that. The afterlife of basketball is what guys really struggle with. You have to have something else in your life."