In Steve Nash’s farewell article announcing his retirement earlier last week, he named a short list of some of the greatest teammates he’d had the pleasure of sharing the locker room with.
Among those named was Lakers centre Robert Sacre who Nash shared his LA tenure with, and connected with a special bond – both are British Columbia boys.
“We had fun, man,” Sacre told NPH in the visitors locker room before the Lakers tipped off in Toronto Friday night. “We hang out, our kids hang out together so he’s a good friend of mine and I’m just really fortunate to be able to play with him.”
As the 60th overall pick, a slot usually reserved for a ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ or overseas prospect, Sacre defied those odds to fit the Lakers rotation.
This season the 25-year old centre has put up 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds while starting 18 games. He’s scored in double figures eight times this season. He also started 13 games last year.
“He’s gotten so much better from an offensive standpoint,” Lakers head coach Byron Scott said.
“Defensively, he’s one of our best big guys as far as communicating, one of our best guys on pick and rolls, one of our toughest guys, so we hope he continues to get better as a basketball player from year to year.”
Sacre has made the most of his three-year tenure in LA thus far and should be back with the team next season if the Lakers pick up his option for slightly less than $1M.
“Playing with all the guys I’ve got to play with here with the Lakers has been crazy,” Sacre reflects. “Guys like Pau, and Kobe. I’m really blessed I couldn’t ask for a better situation or a better organization than the Lakers.”
On this night, however, Sacre is also thinking of his former team the Gonzaga Bulldogs who were battling UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen.”
Gonzaga is Americas’s team, and they’re Canada’s team,” said Sacre. “I know they’ll be showing that on the Jumbotron because Kevin Pangos is playing right now. He’s Canada’s finest right now.”
When I asked Rob if he’d thought about reuniting with Pangos at some point this summer with Team Canada for the Pan Am Games in Toronto or the FIBA Americas in Mexico he was enthusiastic but unsure.
“Absolutely. I haven’t really looked that far ahead to be honest with you but I’m just taking it one step at a time to finish this season out and go from there.”
He was a 2010 team member for Canada in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Last summer he played the barnstorming tour with Canada under the guidance of his buddy Nash.
Sacre is big (7′, 260lb), athletic (both his parents played varsity sports at LSU) and tough, things you just can’t teach, and that could give him a role with Canada on the international level.
Though teams are increasingly playing small-ball, the five-spot is long from obsolete.
“I think there’s always going to be room for seven-footers in this league,” said Byron Scott. “Even though nowadays you’ve got a lot of power forwards that are seven footers and they’re playing on the perimeter you still need somebody that can control the paint so I think there will always be room in this league for that.”
He’ll have a role on the court for sure, but Sacre has also made his mark with his towel-waving, wildman bench cheering that gets his team fired up.
Never change, Rob.