Despite how bad the Kings have been during this playoff drought, they have still had their fair share of late game heroics and game-winning buzzer beaters. Perhaps no single player encapsulated this better than Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic came to the Kings with a fair bit of hype. He had established a reputation in the EuroLeague as a clutch player, and led his team to the EuroLeague Championship.
In Bogdanovic’s three seasons with the Kings, he made four game-winners and countless other big late game shots. When the game was on the line, Bogi wanted the ball.
His first game winner came early on in his rookie season as the Kings faced the Golden State Warriors. Bogi found himself matched up against Draymond Green, one of the best defenders in the game. That didn’t stop Bogi from taking it right at Draymond and getting to the basket and banking in the go-ahead and eventual winning bucket with 12.6 seconds left.
Later that same season, the Kings found themselves down by one against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bogi again got the ball late. He had a rough game that night, shooting just 3-10 from the field and missing all 5 of his threes. But shooters are going to shoot, and Bogi drilled a tough elbow jumper in the face of MarShon Brooks to put the Kings up by 1 and win the game.
Bogi’s third game winner was his most impressive, and one of the best game winners in all of Kings history. My dad and I had season tickets at the time, and we had a pact to never sell the games against the Lakers because we didn’t want those tickets going to Lakers fans. I really wanted to be at that game but it also happened to be a friend’s birthday, so instead the tickets went to my sister and her boyfriend. We watched the game at the brewery that we were at and it didn’t look like I was missing much as the Kings found themselves down double digits late in the second half. But then they started chipping away and chipping away, and with 4.3 seconds left, the Kings found themselves with the ball down just two. The entire brewery had started to pay attention to the game and who else should the ball go to but Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Lakers had 7 foot tall former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler on him, but Bogdan once again didn’t care. He faked a drive and then stepped back to shoot a high arching three pointer over Chandler. The ball sailed through the net as time expired and I had to fight off conflicting emotions of excitement and also despair that I wasn’t able to be at this game in person.
Bogdan’s final season featured one more game winner, this time against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Buddy Hield had the ball with the Kings down two, but pressure from the Thunder forced him to get rid of the ball. Fortunately, he found Bogdanovic, who calmly pump faked the oncoming defender and stepped into a wide open three.
It’s too bad the Kings didn’t manage to play in any playoff games while Bogi was here because if anyone was going to step up and deliver in big moments, it was Bogi.