It is the 2004 NBA Draft live from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Players such as Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Andre Iguodala, and Luke Jackson have all been taken in the lottery, and thus went up to take their picture with the Commissioner David Stern. All the players that were scheduled to be there had already heard their name called.
Now the Lakers are on the clock, and draft little known (at least by most Lakers fans) Sasha Vujacic, a 6’7 guard out of Slovenia. Unexpectedly, and without an invitation, Sasha is in the building and proceeds to put on his purple and gold Lakers hat, and go up for his picture with the Commissioner. Lakers fans were left pondering how would this young man pan out. Now in his 4th season, “The Machine” has emerged.
Sasha Vujacic was born in Slovenia March 8th 1984. Basketball runs in his family as his dad was a coach of a Slovenian team. He began playing basketball at a very young age, as he turned pro at the age of 16 with Snaidero Udine of Italy. Mainly playing point guard in a much different European style of basketball that would bring unique challenges to young Sasha as he set up to start his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In Sasha’s rookie year, he played in 35 games for the Los Angeles Lakers, starting 3. His inconsistency was seen right off the bat, as he could not find a rhythm for any significant amount of time. Going into his sophomore campaign his inconsistent play remained as Sasha still struggled from the field as he only shot .346.
However, in a game in Utah, that few Lakers fans have forgotten, Sasha proved he could hit the big shots. With the Lakers trailing 101-100, in OT, and a fouled out Kobe Bryant, Sasha Vujacic hit a 3 pointer to put the Lakers ahead for good. Sasha evened earned enough of Phil’s respect to be on the floor at the end of Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals, which turned out to be one of the most memorable playoff games in Lakers Franchise history.
Even with less minutes last season, Sasha was able to shoot a career high .392 from the field. Sasha also had another memorable 3 pointer that helped end the 13 game win streak of Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. However, Sasha could not find a comfortable roll on the team, and was left wondering if his future would remain in Rip City. Fellow Lakers teammates continued to praise Sasha as the best practice shooter on the team. Lakers fans found that hard to believe, as the results were never seen in a game setting… Until Now!
Sasha is having the best season of his career. He is not showing any hesitation on his shot. He finally has developed the shooter’s mentality, “I’m just going to shoot, if it doesn’t go in, next time it will.” Couple that with one of the quickest releases and purest strokes in the game, and we now have the emergence of “The Machine.” Kobe Bryant has Sasha and the rest of the Lakers believing that this year they can make it to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sasha has really proven himself this year as a legitimate piece to the Lakers‘ Championship puzzle. He has turned fans who were once against him in to “Machine Heads,” and you know what, that is something that I am proud to be.