End Quote: Mitch Kupchak

written by Paul Feinberg
photography by Max Gerber

 

You run one of the most storied sports franchises in the world. How do you deal with the pressure?

I try to work out in the morning three to four times a week. I really look forward to the last hour or so of the day so I can read, and family activities always bring me back to earth.

The Lakers continually reinvent themselves in their quest to stay on top. What's your secret?

It's not really a secret. I think our success "starts at the top." Dr. Buss and his family have been dedicated and consistent owners of this franchise since they bought it in 1979. They are very competitive as well as a very astute business family.

What's the best approach to managing someone who's been a superstar their whole life?

At this level it's impossible to treat everyone the same. A superstar has different pressures than does a non-starter or the tenth man on the team. Having said that, certain rules in the "team" context have to be followed by everyone and are non-negotiable.

What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?

Winning a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics.

Your prediction for this season - does it end with locker room champagne, a parade down Figueroa and a visit to the White House?

If your team has a chance to win the championship that's all you can ask for, although I do think we have improved our team's chances since a year ago. Owners, GMs and coaches live in constant fear of the unexpected - an injury, a bad bounce or a call that doesn't go your way at the most inopportune time. Some things are just out of your control and there is nothing anyone can do about it. We are fortunate to be in the "hunt" and we are keeping our fingers crossed!

Any good luck rituals or talismans that get you through game-time stress?

I do have a game day routine-office, practice, workout, pre-game press obligations, and so forth. As far as superstitions, I must admit I have a few that are too foolish to share. Doesn't everyone?

In five words or less, how would you sum up your experience at UCLA Anderson?

Life changing confidence building experience!

*Mitch Kupchak is one of UCLA Anderson's 100 Inspirational Alumni.