2010 Exit Interview: Sasha Vujacic

vujacicSasha Vujacic battled various minor injuries throughout the 2009-10 season and struggled to get into a rhythm, playing only 8.6 minutes per game in the regular season to average 2.8 points and 1.2 rebounds.

He missed the first two rounds of the playoffs after suffering a severely sprained ankle in L.A.’s regular season finale, but had his best game of the playoffs in Game 6 of the Finals, scoring nine points in 14 minutes off the bench.

The highlights of his exit interview:

- (On the season): “I think that as a team we had a lot of ups and downs. We were always kind of pushed through tough situations. Individually it was a tough season. Injuries, playing, not playing, different kinds of things. Winning it eliminates everything, hard work pays off.”

- Vujacic was used during parts of the season particularly after the All-Star break thanks to his improved defense, as noted several times by Phil Jackson. Vujacic noted how tough it was to get injured in the regular season’s last game after he felt like he was beginning to find a rhythm, but noted this about his return: “There are different ways to help the team than just playing, and when I came back I was happy …. when I started walking, practicing … it was good the way we ended it. For next year it’s obvious, I just want to get better.”

- (On his conversation with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak): “It was a good talk with PJ and Mitch. We talked about the workouts I was going to do in the summer time. Coach was making me better throughout the year. Sometimes it’s the mental training that PJ does with all the players, and I’m glad I kind of passed the test. I’m glad he showed me confidence in the (biggest game of the year).” Vujacic of course referred to Jackson putting him into the final moments of Game 7 of the Finals when clutch free throws were needed, which Sasha swished.

- (On finding ways to contribute on such a talented team): “If you look at our team we have so many weapons, and when you have a team like that, you have to find different ways in different (times) to help the team. Obviously coming into next year, it’s no secret it is my contract year, not only for myself but for the team I want to really do good. I want to have a big role on the team.”

- (On playing point guard, and the possibility of doing so next season in L.A.): “I love it. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s a big responsibility. PJ also through the practices and some games was testing me, putting me out there not only this year but years before. I love it, I like it, I used to play point guard in Europe.”

- (On Kobe Bryant’s reaction to Slovenia tying Team USA at the World Cup and getting a late goal negated by the ref): “He didn’t take it very well. He was a little bit frustrated, but that was a tough game.”

- Sasha’s immediate plans (after being asked if he were going to the World Cup): “Obviously I’m going to be at another sporting event (tennis watching his girlfriend at Wimbledon).”

- Vujacic said he will not be playing for the Slovenian National Team, and has had no contact with countryman Goran Dragic – with whom he exchanged words and technicals – since the Phoenix series.