LOS ANGELES I've had the pleasure of knowing Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchak since he left the Washington Bullets after four seasons and a 1978 NBA title to signed a veteran free-agent deal with the Lakers following the 1980-81 season.
I've watched him return from one of the most devastating knee injuries ever just 26 games into his first year in Los Angeles to resume his Lakers career and help lead the team to the biggest victory in franchise history: Beating the Boston Celtics for the NBA championship in 1985. Previously, the Lakers had lost eight straight Finals to the Celtics.
I saw the tough but mild-mannered Kupchak become one of a handful of pro athletes to get kicked out of his final game evera six-game Western Conference championship loss to Houston in 1986.
I also observed him make the amazingly successful transition from player to front office executive when Kupchak became assistant GM under Jerry West following his retirement.
We've spent hours and hours along with L...