Sasha Vujacic explains it all
We touched on it in print (cyberprint, at least) and via the spoken word- sometimes we like to kick it old school- over the course of this week, and by now many/most in LakerLand know Sasha Vujacic was let go from the Slovenian National Team ahead of September's EuroBasket extravaganza. Friday on his official site, Sasha put out an official statement regarding what went down, hitting on what he called the "politics and hidden agenda" behind the scenes of his country's national program. The issue, it seems, was an injury to his left knee incurred on the second day of practice, and the quality of treatment he received from the team's training and coaching staff.
Fair to say Sasha didn't think it was very good, and clearly was concerned about sustaining further damage and risking his health and the upcoming Lakers season.
You can read the statement to get all the details- Sasha provides plenty of them- but from a Laker fan's standpoint, the most important information comes here, as he describes the days before his eventual release:
"...Coach Zdovc was asking me on a daily basis how I felt and I told him that I was feeling better and better! We came back to Slovenia and I went to Maribor (my home town) to spend two days off before the next team meeting. I trained on my own on my days off! I was feeling strong and ready to shine in my home town..."
Using that as a guide, it appears that with treatment Sasha's knee responded well and his health is sound, or at going in that direction. Hopefully that means he'll be good to go when training camp rolls around.
No question, Andy and I frequently tease Sasha on the blog and the PodKast- particularly over stuff like this, and really you can't blame us- but here I feel bad for him. Sasha expressed excitement after the season at the prospect of suiting up for Slovenia, and that he won't be able to do so is obviously extremely painful for him. It's hard to overstate the importance of national team play for European players, particularly those from smaller nations with less NBA representation. At the same time, Sasha was clearly aware both of his responsibility to his future and the Lakers throughout the process, something for which he should be commended. I don't think organizations can ask players to skip out on their country in offseason play, but they can ask that they consider the totality of their obligations, which Sasha did.
What we at Lakers Blog HQ worry about is how he'll react to this disappointment on the heels of a disappointing season (at least on a personal level). Work ethic has never been an issue for him, but Sasha tends to press in the face of adversity (particularly when adversity comes in the form of lean PT), and pressing doesn't help. No way to know until camp opens, but at the very least there are indications that health won't be a problem when he gets there.