General manager, a frequent target of criticism from fans, media and even his star player, just rolled with the punches, until one great trade revitalized the team and his reputation.

L.A. Times: The first time Mitch Kupchak was mentioned for one of the most glamorous jobs in sports, general manager of the Lakers, he was standing at a urinal.

An All-American at North Carolina who became a starting power forward for the Showtime-era Lakers, Kupchak’s career was cut short after an injury in 1981 that shattered his left knee. After a limited comeback, Kupchak agreed to move over to the front office in 1986 to serve an apprenticeship under then-general manager Jerry West.

“About the second week I was there, I’m standing in the bathroom at the Forum . . . when the door flies open and Jerry walks in, face red, smoke shooting out of his ears, every other word a four-letter word,” Kupchak recalled recently. “He’s ranting and raving, talking to me, but not really talking to me even though there’s nobody else in there. I’m petrified.

” ‘You know, I’ve had enough. I’m telling Dr. [Jerry] Buss I’m quitting and I’m recommending you for the job.’ And then he walked out,” Kupchak recalled West saying. “I’m still . . . staring straight ahead at the wall, saying to myself, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready for this job.’ ”

Kupchak need not have worried. West wasn’t going anywhere for 14 years, although he would periodically threaten to bolt as his job anxiety continued to rise.

Continue reading ‘Kupchak can deal with it’

  • Young

    that had to be a very awkward moment in the bathroom…

  • Majic “Big” Johnson

    Mitch has done a great job this year.

  • Eric Thai

    [Comment ID #34218 Will Be Quoted Here]

    LOL! True that.

  • bluekang

    I was watching the press conference from when Malone and Payton were introduced on youtube last night and I noticed that at the end Magic made a point of mentioning that Kupchak deserved a lot of credit for the deals, I thought that was interesting in hindsight.

  • xtro

    Mitch will get an A if he gets Artest in the offseason.

  • gugy

    I agreed.
    Artest is the man we need to bring monster D to this team.

    Do it cupcake!

  • ab4sure

    The mark of a Good GM is Is he building a Championship team??? I guess there are lots here who think Mitch gets an A only for this yr. Was he doing good in previous years??? Drafting Bynum, turiaf, Sasha, and Farmar??? Those didn’t happen just this yr. Also, even though trading for Kwame was a “mistake” he knew Kwame still had value and did not trade him away for an avg. player but cashed in that poker chip when it had the most value. I bet if you secretly polled GM’s around the league and asked them which team they would pick as a team they would like to have for the next 5-7 years they would choose the Lakers with Portland probably coming in second.

  • .

    I guess I’m the only one here who read the “whole” article. Jerry Buss himself, more or less implied, said that others should be credited just as much–like his son, Jim, who initiated the idea of the Gasol trade all together. Buss says that Kupchak “made the call”, almost as if implying that that was all he did. So my vision of Kupchak is still pretty much the same from pre-Gasol trade–and that is, he is an O.K. GM.

  • ab4sure

    [Comment ID #34259 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Sure, but the buck stops with the GM for the decision with final approval by Jerry Buss. All gms get input in the FO including PJ who gives input… Mitch is responsible for player personnel along with the draft. Calling him an OK GM is dismissive of a person who has put together probably the most talented team in the league which is very hard to do when the team you have never gets a very high draft pick.

    BTW if you read the article carefully it was Jerry Buss who initiated the Gasol idea when he heard Gasol wanted to be traded.


    Mickael(Air France) Pietrus,Mitch! He’ll provide The Showtime we’ve been waitin’ on.,though I won’t hate if you decide on Artest,I’m just tired of the KB/Jordan comparisons and Lakers/Bulls similarities,especially if they get Artest(our version of Dennis Rodman),ATHLETISICM OVER BRAUN IN LA!

  • xtro

    Artest won’t admit it, but he is dying to play for the Lakers. I wouldn’t mind getting Pietrus as well.

  • Lakers Galore

    Even though we got Pau Gasol, having Caron Butler wouldnt have hurt either, with Kobe, Lamar, Caron that would have been a nice 3. but having Kobe, Lamar and Pau is nice too.

  • rolly maestre

    you aree absolutely right DCLAKER & XTRO.i agree with you completely that we really need MICKAEL PIETRUS although i have 2 reasons why i choose PIETRUS over ARTEST:


    you are absolutely right DCLAKER & XTRO.i agree with you completely that we really need MICKAEL PIETRUS although i have 2 reasons why i choose PIETRUS over ARTEST:

    1. the big difference in there salary.Artest is a highly paid player while Pietrus is asking lesser compared to Artest.

    2. artest as we all know is that young compared to Pietrus.although artest still has the athletism but compared to Pietrus,he has lesser athletism if we compare him to Pietrus who is younger than him.

    Pietrus and Artest has the same game,most especially when we talk about defense,they can both deliver but with pietrus he is quicker and more flexible.HE IS A SHOWTIME type of player that we need.

    MITCH……get Mickael Pietrus this’s a must!


    Check the SHOWTIME lineup(2nd or 3rd unit):

    Farmar/KB/Ariza/Pietrus/AB or Pau


    The Killa Defense lineup:

    KB(yes at PG)/Pietrus/LO/Pau/AB

    DF or Sasha/KB/Ariza/Pau/AB…..I can smell 3 in a row.

    Laker4lyf,you said way better than me.

    XTRO,This is 2nd time I caught your comments about Pietrus,good lookin’ out.

    Lakers Galore,Caron is my 2nd choice,thanx for the reminder(I live in Washington how could I forget).

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #34274 Will Be Quoted Here]

    In the 2004/2005 season, the Lakers did have Kobe/Lamar/Caron and the Lakers finished 34-48.

    A big man (i.e. a 7 footer) is needed to compete for a title. This is what makes Bynum, Gasol and truly talented big man very important.

  • DingleBerry

    [Comment ID #34283 Will Be Quoted Here]

    yea but we didnt have a coach that year either. i guarantee that caron kb and lamar can do some damage with phil


    It’s 9:35 on the East Coast,an hour before ‘THE SWEEP’.


  • ab4sure

    [Comment ID #34284 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Most people don’t understand what a big man’s value is. It looks like many here don’t understand that either. Take Pau off this team and put Butler would be a huge difference no matter what coach you have.

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #34419 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Yes, big men are valuable in the NBA. Players like Duncan, Olajuwon, Shaq, Wilt, Kareem, Bill Russell, etc, all led their teams to championships. The Lakers management know the key to a championship team is a big man providing a low post presence. This is why Buss/Kupchak have held on to Bynum like gold.