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The Bogut legacy: Australian kids can now dream big

Andrew Bogut celebrates after winning the 2015 NBA championship with Golden State. 

As a child, Andrew Bogut dreamt of one day playing in the NBL; he thought the NBA was way beyond his reach. His goal was to make a living out of the sport he loved and he set his sights on Australia's domestic basketball league.

Bogut worked hard and advanced through the junior representative sides until his talents were recognised by college scouts as he led Australia to the 2003 FIBA Junior World Championships title. He starred at the University of Utah before being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft - the first Australian to achieve that honour.

Bogut announced on Tuesday that his 13-year NBA career was officially over. He will play the next two seasons with the Sydney Kings in the NBL.

"I've had a unique career in a way, I was drafted by Milwaukee at number one and I was the number one option on that team for six or seven years, so I got to experience being a guy who could go five for 20 or 10 for 20 and still get the next shot," Bogut said.

"Then I was traded to Golden State and played a role on one of the best teams of all time. It was just an amazing ride and I learnt so much from being in that locker room, on how guys conduct themselves on daily basis, how professional you have to be, on and off the court."

Now back home after his wild ride Stateside has finished, Bogut said he was committed to playing out his career for the Kings.

"There are no NBA outs, there's no outs in my deal, there's no European outs, I'm committed to be here for two years," he said. "I'm very, very excited to be back in Australia, and yes, that will retire me from the NBA, I'm happy to say that today," he said.

NBL owner Larry Kestelman said Andrew Bogut is the league's biggest ever signing and is hopefully the first of many Australian NBA players returning to play in the NBL.

Darren Arthur, ESPN153d ago

Bogut's career may have followed in the footsteps of the likes of Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze and Shane Heal but he also lit the way for the current flood of Australian talent into the NBA.

When he first started with the Bucks he envied the Serbian or Argentinian players, who always had compatriots to talk to in whichever U.S. city they were visiting. He leaves the game knowing there are Australians spread across the league.

One of the key reasons for his move to the NBL was the hope that he could prolong his career and be involved with a flourishing national team drawn from those NBA players.

"The NBA is 82 games, a lot of flights, non-stop," he said. "So to come back and play 28, 30 games, hopefully more if the Sydney Kings go on to the playoffs and the finals... that played a big part.

"I've committed to the World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics, so that was a big factor."

But it was his young family that sealed his decision, with the NBA lifestyle depriving him valuable moments with his young family.

"I have an 18-month old and a newborn coming in July and it just started to hit me, going on road trips in the NBA. We would go on 10-day road trips - with every road trip that came, it started to get to me a bit ... missing first steps, missing first words."

Andrew Bogut says he was always going to finish his career in the NBL and was really impressed by the negotiations which included a 10 percent share of the Kings when he retires with the option to purchase up to 50 percent of the club.

Darren Arthur, ESPN153d ago

The uncertainty of remaining in the NBA left him with little choice.

"It wasn't easy, you never want to shut the door completely, but it was a conversation I had with my wife and I just saw how hard it was on her and my kid just being lugged around," he said.

"The security of the NBA for me was gone, it would be one-year deals for me for the rest of my career. You can get a phone call tomorrow and be traded coast-to-coast and have to leave your family behind and they come later once you find a place. I didn't want to live that life anymore. I played enough and had a great NBA career that I'm very thankful for.

"There are just different things that are more important to me at this stage of my life."

Australian basketball fans now have the opportunity to see Bogut wear a Kings uniform in the NBL, achieving the dream he once had as a child. And because of Bogut and the players who followed him, Australian children can now dare to dream of playing in the NBA.