Sasha is Lifting New Jersey Nets Spirit

“He knows how to play,” said New Jersey Nets head coach Avery Johnson, enthralled with the energy Vujacic brings off the bench. “He just knows how to play.”

In four games with the Nets, Vujacic has averaged 11 points and shot .472. And that shooting helps — only interior guys Derrick Favors (.556) and Kris Humphries (.545) have better marks. And there is that infectious buzz Vujacic employs on the court. Johnson stressed that he doesn’t want to make too much of it because he doesn’t want to slight the guys already in place.

But, truly, he loves it.

“I don’t want to take anything away from our guys who’ve been here,” Johnson said. “I’m more of a body language guy and a spirit guy. And he has such a great spirit. He has great life. He reminds me of a soccer player. Great energy. Even when he makes a mistake, you can live with it. Very unselfish, just what we needed.”

We all know that Sasha welcomes the chance to play. Sasha won 2 rings with the Lakers, but his playing time was limited. But with the Nets he gets time. And he uses it. Continue reading

From Los Angeles to New Jersey

From Los Angeles to New Jersey: Cheers to Starting Anew

On December 15, 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers sent Sasha Vujacic to the New Jersey Nets for veteran center, Joe Smith in a three-way trade with the Houston Rockets. After beginning his 7-season NBA career with Los Angeles from Slovenia, Sasha is now moving on with a different team. Sasha Vujacic first began his career as a Laker after being drafted in the first round in 2004 as the 27th pick.

Yes, emotions will run high among “Machine” fans after being able to watch him for 7 straight seasons. But in the light of the sudden trade, Laker fans every where are thankful for the time he has spent here in Los Angeles, a place Sasha has told me is “home”.

Of course after a player has stayed with one team for so long, there are always fond memories. For Sasha, Laker fans will always remember his undying passion for the game, dedication, and loyalty. Speaking of loyalty, during the off-season of 2008, Sasha led a number of Laker fans in a boycott to not wear the color green until the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics.

Some career highlights that fans can never forget include: hitting a game-winning 3-point shot against the Utah Jazz after Kobe Bryant fouls out during his first season, his crowd-pleasing dunk on two players against the Sacramento Kings, and of course, the two free-throws in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals to seal the Lakers’ 16th championship. But these are only a few of his many highlights in the Purple and Gold.

One of the main things Laker fans will never forget is Sasha’s humble personality. He is known for being a charitable, caring, funny, and personable individual. He cares for his fans and makes sure he maintains a connection with them.

Sasha, we wish you the best of luck in New Jersey! We hope you continue to have great success wherever you are and in everything you do. Thank you for the great 7 seasons with L.A. and thank you for sharing 2 NBA Championships with us. Your fans will always remember “The Machine”! Don’t forget that you will still have fans in L.A.! Until next time…

Here are some messages from fans that we received:

Luca from Italy: Ciao Sasha peccato non vederti più in maglia Lakers….ma bello pensare che che ti vedrò a Londra vs Toronto!
See you soon!
Mandi biel

From SV Fan: Sasha, thanks for your loyalty and dedication over the years with the Lakers. Stay focused and work hard and you will find a team that will let you start. Be aggressive and be the player you can be. Good luck.

From Taiwan: SO SAD. I’m Taiwanese, my English is not good, but there are some things I want to tell you.
Today I saw the news about you going to the Nets, I feel sad because I think you are a good player. When you play on the court, you always play with enthusiasm and do your best. To me, you and Kobe are both my favorite players on earth. Lakers is the only team I like, but now I will like Nets too. I’m your biggest fan forever!!!!
GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!!

From Antonio Resendiz: Sasha, Thank you for all your hard work and for giving the city of LA all those great moments of glory. We are going to miss you and we hope that you come back to play for the Lakers again.

From Karen: Sasha, I have been watching you on the Lakers team & I am sad you’re being traded. I promise to continue watch you play for the Nets. Much “aloha” for you and your family. Happy Holidays! Best Wishes for the New Year!! Keep on, keeping on…

From Lou G: Sasha, I was very sorry to hear you were traded to the New Jersey Nets but please remember you will always have a big fan base in L.A. and will still be watching you. We look forward to your return to L.A. and hope this will lead to maybe even a starting position in New Jersey. I’ve been a fan for many years. Watching the Lakers won’t be the same without you on the team. I will continue to wear my #18 Laker T-shirt and would like to wish you only the best. Who knows maybe one day you will return to the Lakers! Say hello to Jordan for me. We love you, and don’t forget us!

From Rick Bolanos: I’m sorry you’re leaving Sasha, we’re gonna miss “The Machine,” hopefully it helps your career, say hello to Jordan Farmar!!! Take care 

From JJM: Sasha, I wish you the best of luck, trade or no trade. Everything will work out in your favor in the end, Machine!!

From Eric: It was a great run while it lasted. Good memories of all those championships! Hope Jersey works out for you and your girl. Hang in there Machine and take care of yourself.

The Machine & Lakers Seek Revenge

It really feels like it was yesterday. Watching Ray Allen drain a corner-three to put the Celtics ahead 20 in Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals and feeling my stomach drop. The production crew over at ESPN knew that even though the game was barely through the second quarter, the upstart Lakers had hit the wall. The series was over. The cameras managed to find every one of the dejected Lakers in that moment, slumping their heads into their hands, trying to prolong the inevitable pain of watching the hated Boston Celtics celebrate their NBA-record 17th championship. Game Six wasn’t so much a contest pitting the leagues two premier franchises against one another for a battle of greatness, it was a coronation, a playground beatdown. When the buzzer finally rang out in the Boston Garden, the Lakers had lost Game Six by a staggering 39-points, a Finals record. The Celtic green and white confetti poured from the rafters as everyone of the 2008 Lakers walked to the locker room, a magical season finished with so many hopes and expectations extinguished along with it.

For Sasha Vujacic, the pain of June 17, 2008 lingered far beyond the sojourn out of the Boston Garden. Vujacic publicly declared at the beginning of the 2009 season that he would not wear the color green until the Lakers won the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, he assumed that the Celtics were just as destined for the NBA Finals as the Lakers were and, while this group of Lakers did ultimately achieve their goal and capture an NBA Championship, it was at the hands of an unfamiliar foe, the Orlando Magic. Although they would likely never say it, they still hungered for the Celtics. They still dreamed of stepping on the parquet floor and avenging their most egregious of losses, to overcome the follies of their youth. Now seasoned and championship hardened, this Laker team finally gets their opportunity.

Rejuvenated and revitalized, the Celtics marched through the Eastern Conference, beating a Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat team in five games, a shocking defeat of a LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers team in six games, and a throttling of last years East Champs, the Orlando Magic in six games. With Rajon Rondo now the undisputed leader of this team, the Celtics spent most of their time in the Eastern Conference Finals seemingly posturing and challenging the Lakers from across the country. Every win for both the Celtics and the Lakers seemed like something out of the East Coat/West Coast Hip-Hop Battles of the mid-1990s. They were sending messages to one another. Toying with each other. The Celtics refused to touch their Eastern Conference Championship trophy. The Lakers refused to show emotion during their Western Conference Championship trophy presentation, standing stoically, not a congratulatory t-shirt or hat in sight. These two teams want at each other BAD. They are frothing at the mouth. The scene is set. The yellowed newspaper clippings have been unearthed, the grainy footage from the 60′s and the over saturated video from the 80′s revisited.

I could write about the X’s and O’s of the series; the stats and numbers, but none of that matters. Not this time. For these Lakers, this series isn’t as much about the trophy at the end, it is about beating the CELTICS. It is about walking into the Boston Garden and showing those angry Bostonians how much they have grown as a team. It is about matching physicality, something they could not do in 2008. It is about Sasha taking it his unlikely aggressor Ray Allen (which he did a couple of time during the Feb. 18 contest at Staples Center. I nearly jumped out of my seat when Sasha took Ray off the dribble and whirled in for a lay-up). It is about righting wrongs. It is about revenge.