When he was 16 years old, Robert Sacre traveled from his native North Vancouver to Abbotsford for what he perceived to be an easier driving test to acquire his licence.
Sacre passed the test back then, but the former Los Angeles Laker is heading back to Abbotsford in 2021 for another test – this time with the Fraser Valley Bandits as he steps into his role as the team’s new assistant general manager.
Basketball fans may remember Sacre as a teammate of Kobe Bryant on the purple and gold from 2012 to 2016, but he also excelled on the college stage with the Spokane-based Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Sacre was a Bulldog from 2007 to 2012, and his top offensive season occurred in 2010-11 when he averaged 12.5 points per game. He also averaged 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 assists. He was a two-time (2011 and 2012) West Coast Conference all-star and was also the WCC defensive player of the year in 2012.
He was then drafted by the Lakers in the second round of the NBA draft and played 189 games during his four seasons with the club. His top offensive year was 2013-14 when he averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Sacre played alongside NBA legends such as Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
Following his run with the Lakers he signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, but was waived by the team before playing any regular season games with them. He went on to play three more professional seasons in Japan before retiring in 2019.
Outside of his professional runs in the sport, Sacre also represented Canada on the senior and junior international stage. He also led the Handsworth Secondary School Royals to a AAA provincial basketball title in 2006, earning most valuable player honours for that year.
Sacre, who now resides in Spokane and runs his own company called Sacre Excavation, said he initially reached out to the Bandits on social media about the potential of coming aboard.
“We Do All The Dirty Work”
— Robert Sacre (@Bobby_Sacre) January 4, 2021
“I wanted to be a part of something special,” he said.
He explained that he also wants to help grow the game in his home province.
“I want to give back to my hometown of Vancouver and Abbotsford and all that area,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of giving back to the game of basketball to the community that I love so much.”
Sacre admitted he hasn’t watch a ton of Canadian Elite Basketball League competition, but is looking forward to getting involved on making player personnel decisions and providing his input on the type of team he wants to help build.
“We want to be gritty, we want that tough mentality,” he said. “We want to set the tone early and be aggressive. All of that combined can add up to a championship team.”
While Sacre does not have any experience managing or building a basketball team, he said he did spend a lot of time picking the brain of former Lakers executive Mitch Kupchak, who is also the current general manager of the Charlotte Hornets. Kupchak won seven NBA titles as an executive with the Lakers.
“Mitch kind of took me under his wing when I was in L.A. and I still stay in touch with him,” Sacre said. “I think just based off my knowledge of basketball the sky is the limit.”
He also said he’s looking forward to working with general manager Kyle Julius and interim head coach David Singleton.
“We’ve been on the phone a couple of times and I love where he’s headed with this team,” Sacre said of Julius, who will continue in the general manager from Taiwan. “The cool thing is there’s no BS between us, it’s all business and that’s what I respect about him.”
Details still need to be worked out on when Sacre will join the team, as due to COVID-19 restrictions, he would likely have to complete some sort of quarantine before arriving in Canada.
“I’m going to be up there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of this Canada deal and hopefully we can get some normality around this world.”
The Bandits are scheduled to open the CEBL season on June 5, when the Edmonton Stingers come to the Abbotsford Centre.
For more on the team, visit thebandits.ca.