Kobe Bryant’s boy or valuable super-pest: Why did the L.A. Lakers re-sign Sasha Vujacic?
However, Vujacic’s best attribute is his feistiness, which alienates opponents. A theatrical fist pump follows each three-pointer. A who-me protest follows every foul. And animated conversations with referees follow every whistle. All of this makes him a super-pest, hated by opposing teams and loathed by their fans …
Many people get and keep their job because of nepotism. Hot secretaries, sons of the boss, and family friends are an office staple. After all, it’s not what but who you know.
Professional sport is like any business, so connections and favouritism influence almost every transaction. Like today, I’m sure many NBA fans believe Kobe Bryant played a major part in, well, ‘encouraging’ the Los Angeles Lakers to re-sign reserve guard Sasha Vujacic.
Here is their theory: Kobe and Sasha are boys. And, even though he has mellowed and matured from last summer’s meltdowns, what the reigning MVP wants, he still gets.
I’m not so sure about this. Yes, Black Mamba and the Slovenian are tight. On-court, they often yell at each other, make-up and embrace, and then use their on-court chemistry to win games.
But GM Mitch Kupchak won’t be pressured into making moves. Last year, he wouldn’t deal Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd, even though he received a tongue-lashing from Bryant and threats of public stoning from Laker-nation.
And Kupchak was proven right, very right. Bynum, at 20 years old, is on the verge of greatness, while Kidd struggled with Dallas in the point guard heavy Western Conference.
Now the GM has the clout within the organization to match his considerable backbone. He doesn’t have to appease anyone, even #24. And his signing of Vujacic to a three-year, 15 million dollar contract is based on merit, not because he’s a buddy of you-know-who.
Kupchak likes the young guard off the bench. At 6-7, he has the size and outside range to create space for teammates and punish double and triple teams on Bryant, Bynum, or Gasol.
However, Vujacic’s best attribute is his feistiness, which alienates opponents. A theatrical fist pump follows each three-pointer. A who-me protest follows every foul. And animated conversations with referees follow every whistle.
All of this makes him a super-pest, hated by opposing teams and loathed by their fans. But good teams have these types of players. San Antonio has Manu Ginobili. Detroit has Rasheed Wallace. Boston, the reigning world champs, had James Posey. And L.A. will have Vujacic.
Forget nepotism. And forget his relationship with Bryant. Vujacic’s play warranted a new contract.