Lakers training camp has been underway for over a week now, with one pre-seaon game already played against the Warriors. The Lakers came away from Sunday night without a win, but for one rookie hopeful, the night was still a golden evening. Robert Sacre, the team’s only draft pick in last summer’s NBA Draft, suited up in his purple and gold jersey for the first time to play an official NBA game. With Dwight Howard still out, Sacre was starting at center. Something the big man couldn’t believe.
The chance to play with the L.A. Lakers rests on Robert’s performance over the next few games. Only three other people stand in his way; Darius Johnson- Odom, Reeves Nelson and Greg Somogyi. Greg, also a center, poses the biggest threat to Sacre’s dream of finding a permanent place in L.A.. But after Sunday’s showing, Robert edged out those he’s competing against, enough to earn the recognition of the most famous Lakers face, Kobe Bryant.
“Did fantastic. I think he played extremely, extremely well. He’s a hard worker. He came out and learned the offense and learned the defense. He got the start tonight. He answered the bell. He came out and played exceptionally well.”
Robert has a long road ahead of him, but it’s one filled with promise. The Lakers big man spoke about his game day experience, and his overall time so far in training camp, with Lakers Nation on Monday night.
On the draft and the summer …
Lakers Nation: I think a great place to begin would be to talk about draft day. Where were you watching the draft take place?
Robert Sacre: I was with my family in Louisiana, and we were all in the backyard cooking fish in the outdoor kitchen. My girlfriend and son were there, along with my mom and all of my dad’s family. It was just all of us watching TV, eating fish, and relaxing.
LN: How did you react to knowing the Lakers picked you up?
RS: It was an unreal feeling. Everything I had worked for just came true. It was one of those things where I wanted something so bad and then it happened. It was remarkable.
LN: Were the Lakers your first choice?
RS: Before the draft, I had worked out for 15 different teams and the Lakers were not one of those teams, surprisingly. But I couldn’t be happier that L.A. picked me up. It was meant to be.
LN: After the draft, Summer League and workouts began. What was your overall experience over the past few months?
RS: I think all of the guys on the team have been supportive and really helped me out. The veterans are great and the coaches want to see you do well. They push you. So far, it has been a great experience.
LN: Did anything stand out the most?
RS: Basketball is a business so you can’t take anything personally. This translates into advice from other players and coaches. But, I knew what I was getting into, especially through stories from other guys I know in the league.
LN: Was it harder than you expected?
RS: No. It’s basketball. There are different styles of how to coach and how to work on the game. But it’s what we players know best. This summer may have been a little more difficult than what I have been used to but it wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before. Think about it this way; you’re on your first day of school, every grade you move up, that day is really cool. But eventually you have to relearn things, you get a little nervous and have to adjust. It’s normal.
LN: That is a really great analogy, one I think applies to a lot of new experiences people face. After this summer, though, did you notice anything in particular that you have to improve upon? How have you worked on that during Training Camp?
RS: I need to work on my quickness, and get a better understanding of the overall speed of the game. That comes with time, so I am not too worried about it. I feel comfortable so far and can only take this all one day at a time.
LN: How does playing with NBA-caliber talent differ from your game day experience at Gonzaga? Have you experienced a different game pace?
RS: First of all, I am not just playing with any team. The Lakers have me playing with future Hall of Famers, MVPs, and unbelievable players. You would expect it to be a completely different game compared to college since everything is at a much higher standard. The team, coaches and players, want to win. They push each other and push me; it is really competitive.
Next Page: On the Lakers Roster and the Pre-Season