View Full Version : The Province: "Sacre ready to hear the cheers"

06-13-2013, 12:37 PM
Howard sumura, The Province (http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/news/sports/story.html?id=f6e2b5a9-7949-4cab-b289-83f61507d83c)

A Lakers favourite for his bench celebrations, he aims for on-court role

No confirmations just yet, but it wouldn't have been a surprise if a certain former graduate of North Vancouver's Handsworth Secondary drew a little paparazzi-style attention earlier this week as he went for stroll near his Los Angeles-area home.

"Hey, just about to take the dogs out for a walk," Robert Sacre said over the phone from Southern California, where he is coming off his rookie season with the L.A. Lakers. "We even added a third to our family."

Try and imagine Sacre, the well-illustrated seven-foot centre, walking not only his two faithful pit-bulls Louis and Jackson, but also the third member and newest member of the canine clan, a chihuahua named Prince.

"Hey, Prince is the man," intones Sacre, a member of The Province's 2007 Head of the Class, explaining that the little one takes no guff from the big ones.

"Everything right now is great. It's awesome. I can't complain."

Focused on remaining a Laker next season, and busy working on his game through the off-season, there is a level of exuberance in the 24-year-old's voice which more than suggests his first go-round in the NBA, on a roster drenched with veterans and soon-to-be Hall of Famers, was as meaningful an introduction to the league as he could have possibly hoped.

Steve Nash. Kobe Bryant. Pau Gas-l. Dwight Howard. Antawn Jami-on.

"I got to see inside the game," said Sacre, the former Gonzaga star who was selected by the Lakers with the final pick of the 2012 draft and wound up seeing action in 32 games, averaging just over six minutes per contest.

"And I got to learn how I can get better from so many great players. At first, it was kind of surreal to see all those guys together on one team and realize that they are my teammates. But at the end of the day, we had to come together for one goal, and that is a championship."

That of course did not materialize for a Lakers team which finished with a 45-37 record and was swept in the opening round of the playoffs by San Antonio, and it is unclear how the roster will shake out next season for the league's highest-salaried team. Sacre can be brought back by the Lakers for just under $1 million US next season.

How did his rookie season pan out?

Some highs, some lows, but like so many second-round draft picks over the years, a lot of time to watch, learn and ask questions.

Sacre did all of that, but he also did such a good job of supporting his teammates that his sideline cheering became the stuff of highlight reels.

In a respectful yet tongue-in-cheek manner, the L.A. Times named Sacre the NBA's Thirteenth Man of the Year, calling him the player "who leaps off the bench and wildly flails his arms whenever his teammates make a highlight-calibre play."

They went on to add "The backup centre is decent on the court, too, making him surprisingly relevant for someone who was the final pick of the 2012 draft."

Sacre says he is just trying to be the best teammate he can, and doing what comes naturally. "All I could do was whatever my team asked me to do, and that was to always be ready, always be enthusiastic," Sacre said. "That is just me, and that just makes me focus within the game."