Bogdanović for the Voice of America: In the NBA, you have to constantly improve11.07.2022.
Source: Voice of America
WASHINGTON, ATLANTA —
Five basketball players represent Serbia in the NBA this season, and besides the current MVP Nikola Jokić, the most notable role in his team is played by Bogdan Bogdanović. His Atlanta Hawks, one of the most pleasant surprises of last season, are now fighting for a place in the playoffs.
Already in his fifth NBA season in his career, Bogdanović admits that time has passed quickly since he arrived in the World's strongest league as one of the best European basketball players.
“Yes, every season seems to go by faster. Somehow, you get used to it, as soon as you get into that rhythm. You know the speed in question… the older you are, the more responsibilities you have in the gym and somehow, your time is reduced – literally to a minimum and you have less and less time for other activities. You simply try to be the best you can be," says Bogdanović in an exclusive interview for the 100th show "Iz Amerike", produced by Voice of America, which is broadcast on N1 television.
Voice of America: What is the difference between Bogdan the rookie and Bogdan the NBA veteran?
Bogdanović: There is a huge difference in everything. Both in the psychological and mental plan and preparation. The NBA is simply a different kind of basketball, I say that literally every year. The rules are different, everything is different, a completely different sport, literally, compared to Europe, so the advice I received from some of my friends and old players was that when you go from Europe to the NBA you simply have to forget about everything that happened in Europe and start from scratch literally – that's how it is. And so that was how my changes are, I literally had to introduce something new every year, to improve in another segment of the game, to work on speed. That athleticism is always important, speed is always important, because without that I simply wouldn't be able to play here.
The Hawks managed to reach the finals of the Eastern Conference last year, which – as Bogdanović says – has led to teams showing them much more respect this season, but also makes their job more difficult. Atlanta has not yet secured a place in the playoffs, so Bogdan thinks it's too early to talk about the team's ambitions in the playoffs.
"Really, everyone plays basketball today, there are a lot of talented players and simply – it's harder to make that continuous success. We know from our example. Simply this year others look at us totally differently, they take us more seriously, and that had already started last year. When we started winning, and we did that in the beginning, I don't know, winning 5-6 games, we made a small streak. So after that, especially after the All-Star Weekend and the beginning of this season, we were scouted just like that… Previously, people had come to Atlanta, expecting a win and that's it. Even when we played with Sacramento, it was like that… here you have to win. I don't know, we've won two out of three games played in Atlanta, in three years. So as soon as you’re a bit successful, immediately other teams see it and simply prepare differently for you. They will be more motivated, they will be more prepared, you have that certain respect with some teams and they prepare better for you”.
During the season, Bogdanović follows the events in the NBA every day, but has no obvious favorite for the title.
"I try to watch at least one game that is broadcast on television." I watch both the East and the West. I do follow and it's really never been more even than this year and many teams are playing well. It's just kind of unpredictable. A lot of talented players, a lot of talented teams, a lot of teams made some additional changes this year because they weren't satisfied with the previous season. There is also the influence of Corona and the 'bubble season' and all that, and it seems to me that everything came together in this season. And I do believe that the next one will be even more difficult. Everyone will attack after that successful year. Is it the effect that that one season happened, and now everyone is running after it a little faster and a little harder. I don't really know how to describe it.
As far as favourites, I can't single out one team. Phoenix is currently playing the best basketball, but again, that regular season is not the yardstick of the playoffs, because the playoffs are a totally different kind of basketball. In the regular season, these protocols and the schedule as well as who plays where and who doesn’t play including injuries have an affect on the games. In the playoffs, we get the real picture. There we will see what the match-up is like and who will win the match-up. That's it”.
And when it comes to the MVP race, in which Nikola Jokić is the most serious candidate this season as well…
"There is no need to talk about Joka, we follow it as it is with some emotion. Every one of our players, not just Joka who plays at that level. Someone said something nice about LeBron, I don't know who, that he could be the MVP every year in those years when he played for Miami… but there is some kind of politics and that's where the answer lies. Simply, it is not only important to be the best, and for us Joka is certainly the best", concluded Bogdan Bogdanović.
About Eurobasket: Just to be healthy and ready
After two summers without a major national team competition, the European Championship awaits Serbia this year. Bogdanović, looking from a distance for almost half a year, cannot say much about that topic.
"Honestly, I only know that we are playing in the Czech Republic, in Prague, and that's it." And against the Czech Republic. It's really far… we are also in contact with the players and coaches and the association, so we are trying to create that atmosphere, which is somewhat destroyed due to the Corona virus and all that – a little bit because of the system of competition," says Bogdanović and explains:
You have some players who can't come to the windows, and then the players don't get a call up in the summer when that main tournament is played, and they made it through the qualifiers, so it's a bit unfair, but that's how it is. We all adapt to it, we try to create that kind of atmosphere. Simply to make it interesting, to all be there together and be a part of it. That's what I think is the main thing right now and what we're all working on. From my point of view, that’s what I think is happening right now in our basketball world.”
"Of course, it's too far to talk about that championship right now. There is also a window in between. We have three. Who will be able to play, who won't… there is a lot of time until the European championship, but I certainly hope that we will arrive healthy and ready and in a good mood".
Voice of America: And with the greatest ambitions…
Bogdanović: I have no doubts about our competitive spirit, as long as we are in a good moo and healthy.