Daily News: While the general manager of the Lakers, Mitch Kupchak, is working feverishly these tense hours to retain a vital member of his world championship team – Lamar Odom – he admits he hasn’t had time for a reflective perspective of the past season’s success.
While Kupchak now can claim nine title rings on his resume – three as a player – it’s indisputable that the latest is the first one as a Lakers executive in which the large shadow of Jerry West hasn’t haunted him.
After all, when Kupchak succeeded West after the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers won their first NBA title in 2000, the foundation of the team that would wind up winning three in a row was laid by West with his acquisitions of O’Neal and Bryant.
It would be West who would receive the credit for such an achievement, and it would be Kupchak who would receive the blame when the Lakers struggled so badly after O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat that Bryant even publicly censured Kupchak and expressed a desire to depart the team.
But that was in the long ago past before Kupchak pulled off his Pau Gasol heist with the Memphis Grizzlies and brought in people like Trevor Ariza, Shannon Brown and Josh Powell, each of whom made vital contributions during the Lakers’ playoff run.