Sometimes I think we take sports too seriously. With all the constant need to assign blame for things, endless debates over the "elite-ness" or "clutch factor" possessed by a given player and the oven mitts you sometimes need just to scroll though the SCORCHING HOT TAKES in your Twitter feed, it's hard to just enjoy being a fan and tune out the noise.
Hey, if that is how you enjoy sports, there's nothing wrong with that either. I am not immune to it myself. But when I first got into basketball, it was just because it was fun. Robert Sacre, to me, is a microcosm of that. From his celebrations to his constant smile, he looks as happy to be in the NBA as you or I would be if given the opportunity.
Over the past season, given how little meaningful Lakers basketball was being played, I had a lot of time to ponder: Why is Sacre so inordinately popular among Lakers fans? I settled on a few theories.
He takes the kind of shots fans like from big men
While not a traditional post-up threat, Big Rob (Sacre not Horry) still took almost 60% of his shots from the paint, directly under the basket. This is good! That is right around the ideal shot distribution for a center. Unfortunately, there is a rub:
Lakers season preview
Lakers season preview
He shoots below 55% from that area, which is okay, but not great, especially for a big man. However, with just the eye test, it's easy to see why most fans would be comfortable with this shot distribution for Rob, and that successful celebration percentage from the bench area is pretty impressive as well. More on that later.
Sacre also held opponents to the third-lowest at the rim field goal percentage on the Lakers during the 2013-14 season (behind Chris Kaman and, hilariously, Marshon "Small Sample Size" Brooks), according to NBA.com
His activity level may have worked against him in some ways actually, as I wrote in my piece projecting the Lakers defense for this upcoming season, "Sacre is best suited to play the role of a more traditional center, but was asked to take defensive assignments that were outside of his wheelhouse last season." What I meant by this was that with the slower Pau Gasol and Kaman sharing court time with him, Sacre was the better option to chase stretch fours around, although that isn't exactly a hearty endorsement. He struggled in this role, although not as much as Gasol or Kaman would have. Ideally he will be asked to do this less this and defend the rim more this season.
Still, one has to give the former Mr. Irrelevant some credit (Mark Jackson voice), because he still hustles enough for coaches to see him as the better option for such assignments. Sacre has his deficiencies on the court, but succumbing to hand down, man down and having to tell his momma "There goes that man" is not one of them. If you cannot tell, Jackson’s return to ABC/ESPN may lead to my admittance into an asylum this year, but that is for a different post.
For a big with traditional size, Sacre is seemingly always on the move. On offense, he is constantly setting hard screens and rolling to the basket, or just battling for offensive rebounds (which can help lead to those shots at the rim he has such a proclivity for). On the other end of the floor, Sacre can be found corralling ball handlers, or challenging shots at the rim. He's always active, and that's half the battle.
He is a big, exuberant, Canadian goofball
This is where the fun comes in. The Canadian thing may just be me, considering I'm a dual citizen, but it's rare to see any of my maple brothers in the league. That's becoming less the case with the recent wave of incoming talent, though, including the last two first-overall picks.
The big, exuberant goofball part is likely where the rest of his fans join me on the Sacre bandwagon. Fairly early on in the lost Dwightmare that was the '12-13 Lakers season, many fans of the purple and gold began to notice what appeared to be a drunken, shaven Sasquatch flailing around near the Lakers bench. We soon realized that it was no Bigfoot, but instead the Lakers second round, 60th-overall pick rookie, and that he was celebrating Lakers baskets with enthusiastic dances of a level not seen since the days of the Mad Dog’s victory parade:
Told you I would get it into every post.
That, to me, is likely the biggest reason for all the Sacre love among fans of the purple and gold, despite the fact he will probably only play 1000 or so minutes more than you or I this season. He epitomizes our ideal teammate: A player who cares and has as much fun as many of the fans of this team. I wish that anything made me as happy as Sacre appears to be when the Lakers score a basket.
Again, don’t misunderstand my point. I am not trying to tell anyone how to be a fan, this is just a friendly reminder to take a moment to celebrate the little things, like Randle or Clarkson showing potential, Kobe giving you flashbacks to his prime gone by, and Linsanity fever dream games. Just jump off your couch, barstool, or seat of your choosing and throw up some finger guns, because you know Sacre will be.