Nothing can expose the generation gap in a locker room quite like a music discussion.
Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball created a stir earlier this season when he said modern rappers Future and Migos are better than hip-hop icon Nas. But older players aren’t trying to hear that.
Where does a 25-year-old rookie from Serbia fall in this debate? He’s decidedly old-school.
“I’m not really a fan of this new rap, trap, with the change of voices,” said Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic of what some call “mumble” rap. “I like the rhythm, I like the beat. The lyrics are stupid, but the beat is nice.”
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Bogdanovic is not your ordinary rookie, and not just because he’s older than most first-year players. Bogdanovic is an old soul with a unique view on life in the NBA, on and off the court.
“He’s been around the game,” said Kings veteran guard Garrett Temple. “He understands when you can go out, have a good night out and when you need to chill. He has a personality that’s welcoming and everyone loves being around him.”
Bogdanovic doesn’t quite understand some of his teammates’ obsessions with eccentric fashion, and might be one of the only players in the NBA who wants Clint Capela or Jusuf Nurkic on his team in a video game. For all his quirks, it’s evident Bogdanovic has fit in with his teammates off the court – just as well as he has on it.
“Bogi” will join guard Buddy Hield in representing the Kings at All-Star festivities this weekend in Los Angeles.
‘He’s really an American’
Bogdanovic has become acclimated to culture in the U.S., but he’s still a rookie in American slang.
Rookie guard Frank Mason III might yell to him, “Pull up on his block!” And Temple might translate that it means to shoot in the opponent’s face.
“We’ll send a message within our group text and he’ll randomly reply,” Temple said. “(Monday) De’Aaron Fox said, ‘Who needs a chop in Houston?’ Anybody else, especially us black guys, know that’s, ‘Who needs a haircut?’ Bogi says, ‘What’s a chop?’ Things like that he’s still trying to figure out, so I find myself explaining certain lyrics of a song, what certain stuff says.”
Temple said Bogdanovic got a head-start on adjusting to the culture because he has played with Americans overseas. They introduced him to rap music, and he cites Jay-Z and Eminem as his favorite artists.
“On the plane he listens to the music, he’s playing all the games, he’s gambling, stuff like that,” Temple said. “He’s really an American, an American basketball player, and it’s hilarious because he’s more toward the black culture than any other culture, which is great, great for us. He’s fit in great.”
Mo’ money, mo’ problems
Bogdanovic admits he needed some help to manage his accounting after signing a three-year, $27 million deal. Zach Randolph, who is in his 17th NBA season, and former teammate George Hill offered some simple advice.
“They said, ‘Just don’t be stupid,’ ” Bogdanovic said. “Only if you do something really, really bad it can cost you to lose a lot of money.”
Still, all the taxes that come with earning an NBA check, finding a new home, ticket requests and the like were enough to leave Bogdanovic perplexed. He relies on his representatives at Wasserman to help navigate those areas.
“It’s different, the lifestyle is different,” Bogdanovic said. “All of us have something going on. I think all us players, we have different teams, helping us a lot to stick to our plans, stick to our business, to be able to just think about the court, think about basketball. Because there’s so much stuff outside of the court that’s going on, that if you take care of it, and you care too much about it, it becomes really stressful.”
Bogdanovic doesn’t venture out much on his own, but said he enjoys spending off-days with his friends in San Francisco and exploring new restaurants in Sacramento.
As his off-court life settled into a routine, it became easier to focus on the court.
“I think he brings a maturity to the locker room,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “And I think even other rookies look up to him in a way because he settles those guys down and helps guys see stuff, especially in video situations.”
Bogdanovic’s play earned him a spot in the Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge on the World Team, which features some of the best first- and second-year international players.
Bogdanovic is like other young players in that video games provide a form of relief, but his schedule no longer allows him to devote hours to PC games such as “World or Warcraft” or “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.” He still plays sports game such as “NBA 2K18,” FIFA or UFC when he’s with friends.
Bogdanovic takes a unique approach to playing 2K. It’s fun to play as himself, but he’s fond of using Houston and Portland, where Capela and Nurkic are starters, respectively.
Why? So he can run pick-and-rolls.
“They have two guards and a really good screener and roller with Nurkic and with Houston, Capela,” Bogdanovic said. “So I take (James) Harden with Houston, and it’s like real life.”
Bogdanovic is looking forward to his first All-Star Weekend experience. He’s been an All-Star in Europe, but knows this weekend will be different.
He would love to meet his favorite player in Los Angeles, too.
“I want to see Kobe Bryant,” Bogdanovic said. “That was my idol. I followed him a lot. I want to see how he looks in person, what’s his size. I didn’t get a chance to play against him or watch him play live.”