From the always-busy Whoda Thunk It Department comes a real mind-boggler of a statement regarding tonight’s Western Conference Championship game six: The matchup of Sasha “The Machine” Vujacic on Goran “The Dragon” Dragic matters.
After the Phoenix Suns’ bench absolutely immolated the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the series – The Dragon Was Unleashed as Vujacic and Luke Walton sat pitiably watching – outscoring the L.A. subs 54-20, Phil Jackson again did the clever thing for game five and set The Machine to work most efficiently. After all, what other player in the NBA would have such extensive on-the-fly knowledge of Dragic (not to mention Slovenian)?
BiE tells ya, Lakers fans loved that double-technical in a way we haven’t dug a Materazzi-like maneuver since Rick Fox was wearing the gold.
Let’s see Stern fine Dr. Phil for that one, eh?
As for the relationship between The Machine and The Dragon, well, Marv Albert and Doug Collins exaggerated a tad when they stated the two had played together for Team Slovenia. In actuality, the two were practicing with the squad before Eurobasket 2009.
In competing for the same position – a position Sasha had held for Slovenia in 2007 – Vujacic after two weeks left/was extradited from the team for minor knee surgery. Vujacic later made out the entire situation as purely political and worsened by Team Slovenia medical staff incompetence on his official site: According to him, Slovenia recklessly gambled with Vujacic’ physical well-being when team doctors inadequately addressed a reported knee injury.
However, since nowadays were hearing stuff like “They’re not good friends. They don’t like each other and this happen all the time” from folks like Dragic’ brother Zoran (Zoran played in the FIBA European U20s tournament last summer), one can easily deduce the in-fighting did Slovenian team harmony no good … could this have been the bigger reason head coach Jure Zdovc ejected Vujacic?
In any case, Zdovc and company got the last laugh in Eurobasket 2009, as Slovenia finished in fourth, a showing made all the more impressive by the team’s start without Vujacic and Beno Udrih, plus the subsequent losses of Dragic and Matjaz Smodis in the later rounds.
Or perhaps that wasn’t the last laugh, eh? After all, if Vujacic makes a difference in the Lakers’ elimination of the Suns on the way to the team’s repeat championship, well, heck, that comparable to a fourth-place Eurobasket finish, innit? Even if Sasha is hitchhiking around Europe next season looking for work…
Game six of the NBA Western Conference championship series pitting Goran Dragic against Sasha – i mean, the Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers tips off at 8.30pm EST (2.30am CET).