For former Los Angeles Lakers star Sasha Vujacic, the ultimate ambition was to do more than just play in the NBA, and the Slovenian did just that. He played alongside Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest names in the sport, and even shared a good relationship with the legend.
Vujacic was drafted by the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Draft and went on to play for the franchise until 2010. His biggest role perhaps came in the 2010 NBA Finals where his successful free throws in the final seconds of the game sealed the championship for the side — their second in a row.
Speaking with Clutch Points, Vujacic reminisced about his time with Los Angeles, the support from the fans, and his bond with Kobe during his run with the franchise.
“[The love from Lakers fans] has been amazing,” the 38-year-old said. “Getting drafted by the Lakers in the first round. I was one of those people that my dream was not only to go to the NBA, but my dream was to go to LA and win with the Lakers and obviously to play with one of the best players that’s ever played the game.
He also went on to add how relieved he was when he nailed the free throws against the Celtics in a clutch situation. The side went on to win 83-79 and win the title with the final scoreline reading 4-3.
“Thank God I didn’t miss those free throws. A lot of times, people forget that I was there for seven years and the only thing they remember are the free throws and thank god because that was payback and to answer your question, that’s probably one of the most amazing feelings that Lakers fans got and I got as well and our team. By winning and getting our rematch done properly in 2010.”
Vujacic’s relationship with Kobe was more along the lines of the latter being his mentor and big brother. The shooting guard’s tragic death due to a helicopter crash in 2020 is something the player struggles to fathom.
“You know, Kobe was my big brother. I still can’t find the words to talk about it because it’s just something that I’m still kind of fighting about how it happened, what happened, him, Gigi. It’s just tough because besides being a big brother for me, he was an incredible teammate and someone that was one-of-a-kind.”
The shooting guard eventually shifted base from the Lakers playing for the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. He called time on his veteran career after playing for two seasons for the New York Knicks.