Being in charge of leading the Los Angeles Lakers back to prominence is a role that general manager Rob Pelinka may have been perfectly cast for. He has no qualms with giving media and journalists in Los Angeles a quote worth transcribing and tweeting on the spot, has an esoteric vibe to him, and seems to exhale the lore of the franchise between each and every breath.
Pelinka was officially hired on Mar. 7, 2017 to replace Mitch Kupchak, but his name was leaked almost immediately after Magic Johnson was named president of basketball operations. He sat down with Spectrum SportsNet for a new episode of Connected With... and gave some interesting insight on his first 365 days on the job.
“You realize in your first full season just the gravity of sort of what you’re carrying, and this Lakers franchise has such historic success, and Magic and I know that it’s our job to continue to foster that and drive it,” he said, reflecting on his first year in the always-hot seat of running the Lakers.
The hardest part of the job for Pelinka? Enduring the losses. Watching the team he’s built struggle can be so tiresome that he lets his home-cooked meals go cold.
“A lot of people say ‘what’s the hardest part of that,’ and it’s definitely the losses. As a player agent the wins and losses of a team don’t matter as much as how your player’s playing. As a general manager you know you have one report card, that’s your win-loss record.
“I have a sweet wife who sometimes will make dinner, and if the game’s not going well she’ll be like, ‘Hey why aren’t you eating.’ My kids will say ‘Daddy I’d ask you for help with homework tonight, but you seem like you’re in a bad mood so I’ll do it on my own.” So the losses can get you more than you thought,” Pelinka said.
That’s a familiar picture to Lakers fans who’ve let their food go colder than their free-throw shooting against the Atlanta Hawks.
Another challenge Pelinka feels he’s been taking head on is communicating with Jeanie Buss, Magic and head coach Luke Walton in sharing perspectives about the state of the franchise as a unified front office.
“I think the most important thing that Jeanie, and Magic and Luke and I talk about is just being collaborative and open. When you have four lenses looking at the same painting, sometimes you can have different viewpoints on it. The challenge, and it’s a good challenge, is kind of all of us sharing our viewpoints on big decisions, and points along the way.
“I think being a communicator is something that was really important to me in my prior job,” he said.
His vocabulary and thought process may be alien after watching the ever-pragmatic Kupchak for over a decade, but the kind of energy the Lakers are trying to build within the franchise is in the hands of someone who might be able to extract what they need from a fresh mindset.
To watch the full 20-minute interview with Pelinka, head over to Spectrum SportsNet.