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Mitchell "Mitch" Kupchak (born May 24, 1954 in Hicksville, New Yorkmarker) is a retired Americanmarker basketball player and current general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers since the 2000–01 NBA season after predecessor Jerry West moved to the Memphis Grizzlies organization.

College career

Kupchak was an All-American on the North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball team. Kupchak played on the gold medal winning team at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montrealmarker.

NBA career

Kupchak was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1976 and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. He had four productive seasons with Washington and was part of the team that won the NBA Championship in 1978. He signed a long term contract with the Lakers in 1981 on the behest of Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who told owner Jerry Buss, "If we could get Mitch Kupchak, I know we could win," after the team's playoff upset. Unfortunately, 26 games into the season, Kupchak injured his knee and did not play again until the 1983-84 season. However, Kupchak played a key role in the Lakers' 1985 championship team against the Boston Celtics, who had intimidated them in the prior year's Finals. Kupchak retired after the 1985-86 season, having played 510 regular season and 68 playoff games, with regular season averages of 10.2 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game (7.7 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game in the playoffs).

Transition to NBA management

Kupchak showed remarkable forethought in planning for his "life after" being an NBA player—pursuing a focused program to learn the trade of running NBA team operations. While still under his initial player contract, he worked with the "front office", developing strong working relationships with Laker management, beginning to "apprentice" with Jerry West, and starting studies that led to his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1987.

General Manager

He retired in 1986 to become Assistant General Manager under Jerry West. Kupchak took over as general manager but was not considered to have the traditional power of a GM until 2000 when West left his post as VP of Basketball Operations for the challenge of the Memphis Grizzlies. His first major transaction was the acquisition of former superstars Karl Malone and Gary Payton. After a number of controversial trade transactions over the years, including the trade of Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant, as well as the decision not to trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd, Kupchak faced severe criticism from Lakers star Kobe Bryant, although he still had the support of Buss. However, after his February 2008 deal to obtain Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown, other players and draft picks, Bryant conceded, "He goes from an F to an A-plus." Alongside the 2007 trade to obtain Trevor Ariza for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans, these decisions helped the Lakers win an NBA Championship in 2009.

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