Former NBAer Robert Sacre takes on new challenge with Fraser Valley Bandits

Robert Sacre, pictured as a member of the Lakers. (AP Photo)

Though he’s been retired as a player for about two years now, Canadian hooper Robert Sacre has found another avenue to stay connected to the game he loves.

Announced Thursday, the former Los Angeles Laker and proud British Columbia native is taking on a role as assistant general manager with the CEBL’s Fraser Valley Bandits.

“I’m very lucky that the Bandits gave me this opportunity and I’m definitely gonna seize this opportunity,” said Sacre in a recent interview. “I’m looking forward to being a part of it and I’m excited to see the game of basketball grow in B.C. and let’s just see where it goes, man.

“The sky’s the limit and I think this league is becoming really exciting throughout Canada. So I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted to give back to my community and give back to Canada Basketball and give back to Vancouver basketball and just go from there.”

Growing up in North Vancouver, Sacre starred as a high school player at Handsworth Secondary School where he impressed enough to earn an offer to attend and play for Gonzaga. He spent five seasons there before he was fortunate enough to be selected by the Lakers with 60th-overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Sacre played four seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers from 2012-2016. He came close to cracking the New Orleans Pelicans’ roster in September 2016 but was ultimately waived, clearing the way for a whole new career path.

For three seasons, from 2016-2019, Sacre played in Japan’s B.League with the Hitachi SunRockers Shibuya, where he played some of the best basketball of his professional career.

However, the toll of being overseas for that long took a toll on Sacre and he opted to retire from professional basketball after the 2018-19 season.

“It was 10 months out of the year and I’d be home for two months,” said Sacre of his life in Japan. “So you do the math, I was over there for two-and-a-half years, three years and I have three little kids and I just wanted to be in their lives, man. That’s really what it’s about for me.”

This isn’t to say Sacre didn’t enjoy his time playing professionally in Japan. He actually said he had a wonderful time playing over there, but his desire to be with his family ultimately outweighed anything else and he made the decision to retire.

Since his retirement, Sacre has managed to keep busy. He owns an excavation company in Spokane, Wash., home to his alma mater Gonzaga, and he keeps close tabs on his old college team as the co-host of the Bleav in the Zags podcast, which takes a weekly look at everything going on with the team.

While doing all this, Sacre also managed to finish up a Master’s degree in Athletic Administration at Gonzaga.

“You can never have too many tools in your toolbox,” Sacre said. “In my eyes I just wanted to finish up my Master’s. I left that open and I just wanted to finish up what I started.”

And though he didn’t know it at the time, this tool he added to his box will now come in handy as he embarks on a new opportunity with Fraser Valley.

One of the top teams in the CEBL last season as the runner-up to the champion Edmonton Stingers, Sacre will have the tough task of finding ways to improve an already solid team, primarily as a recruiter.

Despite the challenge, it’s a task the Bandits believe he’s up for.

“I am really excited to have Rob on board,” said Bandits general manager Kyle Julius in a statement. “He is a tremendous asset to our recruiting and player-development department. He is a Canadian basketball icon and a major role model for players from western Canada.”

And though such an opportunity isn’t one Sacre was expecting to come around, he’s certainly appreciative to be given a shot.

“It was kind of serendipity,” Sacre said about how this assistant general manager position came about in the first place. “It just worked out in a way where they followed me on Twitter, I reached out to them [casually] and next thing you know I was talking to the president and look where we’re at now.

“So I’m very grateful that they gave me this opportunity and I’m going to make sure that I take advantage of it and seize this moment and do whatever this team needs me to do to help them be successful.”

He later added: “I want this community – I want Vancouver, Fraser Valley, the lower mainland, everything – to build a huge fan base surrounding the Bandits. We’re trying to build something in the city and we’re trying to create something special. I think the city deserves a great basketball organization and we’re wanting to provide that.”

The Bandits will open their 2021 CEBL season on June 5 in a championship rematch with the Stingers in Edmonton. They’ll play their first home game on June 10, also against Edmonton.

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