Robert Sacre pulls down a rebound against St. Mary's in 2010. (Rajah Bose / Associated…)
Each time NBA Commissioner David Stern and his deputy, Adam Silver, ticked off the latest draft selection, it became more likely Gonzaga center Robert Sacre wouldn't reach the professional ranks.
After finishing second in school history with 186 blocked shots, Sacre figured a team would draft him sometime in the second round, possibly even late in the first. But Sacre waited and waited until the Lakers selected him with the last pick (60th overall). Instead of bemoaning his fallen draft stock, Sacre simply thought "best for last" before waxing nostalgic about the Lakers' storied history.
In a conference call with reporters, Sacre's giddiness appeared to reflect his pragmatic attitude toward his own skills than simply feeling just happy to wear the purple & gold uniform. He likened his own mind-set to a former Lakers' reserve who quickly became a fan favorite because of his hustle.
"It's going to be very similar to Ronny Turiaf's role," Sacre said of the former Lakers' forward. "An energy guy. I'm going to be the guy that comes in, plays hard defense and makes sure guys don't get baskets while [Pau] Gasol or [Andrew] Bynum gets a break. I'm going to come in and play my butt off, know my role, shut my mouth and help Kobe [Bryant] get another ring."
Sacre singled out Turiaf for different reasons. Turiaf also played at Gonzaga (2001-05), where he made first team All-WCC. The Lakers also drafted Turiaf in the second round, with their 37th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. Turiaf's hustle led to a career-best 6.6 points in 18.7 minutes in his third and final season, 2007-08. Sacre said the two have often talked.
Gonzaga assistant coach Donny Daniels often talked to Sacre too, stressing the need to play to his strengths as a defender, screen setter and hustler.
"The NBA is all about roles," said Sacre, whose 11 pre-draft workouts didn't include the Lakers because of scheduling conflicts. "It's not about trying to come in and show off. You have to know your role."
It remains unclear if Sacre would actually have a role with the Lakers. General Manager Mitch Kupchak wants to see how Sacre and the team's other draft selection,Darius Johnson-Odom, perform in the Las Vegas Summer League from July 13-22 leading into training camp.
Sacre's description of 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol as "two of the greatest big men in the game right now" doesn't just illustrate the Lakers' need to carefully consider what they receive in return before just trading any of them away. It also reveals Sacre's role as their possible backup will hinge less on scoring and more on hustling. After all, the Lakers' other energy players have uncertain futures, including Jordan Hill (restricted free agent) and Josh McRoberts (one-year, $3-million contract).
"I view it as a blessing," Sacre said. "I have a chance to maybe play with one of the greatest players of all time. I have a chance to get better and deal with a prestigious team and a team that knows how to win. That's what I chose Gonzaga for, it's winning. That's why I'm excited to be a part of a team like the Lakers."
Darius Johnson-Odom named after Magic Johnson
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