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Sacre salutes Canada's best ever

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- When Steve Nash formally announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 seasons on Saturday, the only Los Angeles Lakers teammate to be mentioned in Nash's first-person piece for The Player's Tribune was center Robert Sacre.

Granted, the injury-plagued Nash didn't play much for the Lakers, appearing in just 65 out of a potential 246 games throughout the three-year, $28 million deal with the team. Then again, his connection with Sacre goes beyond the team. For instance, Sacre is a fellow Canadian.

"He's a guy that Canadians have always looked up to," Sacre said after practice at the Lakers' facility here. "Especially being back home in Vancouver, he's been everybody's idol and hero. It's kind of sad to see it coming to the end, but I've been so honored and blessed to be able to play with him and be a teammate. I feel like a friend now. I'm just really blessed to have him in my life -- and grateful."

Sacre said if he's learned one thing from Nash, it's professionalism.

"I've never seen anybody work harder," Sacre said. "People are always doubting whether he's hurt, but you don't understand how hard he works to just get five minutes on the court. It's remarkable to see how someone wants five minutes and put hours in just for five minutes."

Sacre added, "He wants to play, man. This is what he's known his whole life. It's just tough. Think about it -- you want to be out there, you want to play. It's like seeing your friends play outside and you're not allowed outside -- being grounded or something like that. It just sucks."

And for all the criticism that Nash received for being absent following his injury, Sacre said the two-time MVP point guard maintained his professional approach.

"Obviously, it's been difficult, especially when you want to play and everybody is calling you a coward and calling you names and all these things," Sacre said. "[But] he's held his head up high and he knows he's had a great career and I think he's been a really great mentor, especially for me."