Following Magic Johnson’s shocking resignation earlier this month, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is expected to step into a larger role within the team’s basketball operations department and could even replace Johnson. However, before his meteoric rise to the top of the Lakers’ brass, Pelinka was an agent, with his most notable client being Los Angeles basketball icon Kobe Bryant.
Bryant spoke with Sam Amick of The Athletic about the first time he heard of Pelinka’s desires to run an NBA basketball team, and it sounds like he was a skeptic:
“We had a pipe dream in 2003,” Bryant told The Athletic back in October. “We sat back, and we used to do these exercises where you’d say, ‘OK, in 20 years, where we going to be?’ And it just seemed so ridiculous, but (you had to name) the most ridiculous dream that we could ever, ever, have. ‘What is the most ridiculous dream that we could have in 20 years?’ And mine was building a studio and winning an Oscar (which he has done). And his was being GM of the Lakers.”
“It’s never going to happen,” Bryant told Pelinka that day.
Well someone tag @OldTakesExposed, because on March 7, 2017, Pelinka was named the general manager of the Lakers. Almost exactly a year later, Bryant won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball.”
Bryant couldn’t believe it:
“When (Pelinka) called me, he said, ‘Hey, Jeanie’s considering me for this role; what do you think?’” Bryant continued. “I said, ‘What do I think?’ I said, ‘Dude, can life get any crazier right now? This is unbelievable.’”
Bryant and Pelinka’s relationship was likely a large reason Pelinka was even considered for the general manager position in the first place, and it’s almost certainly the reason Pelinka still has his job today. For better or worse, the Lakers are an organization that rewards loyalty, and Pelinka could be reaping the benefits of the 20 years Bryant spent wearing the purple and gold.
Is that the most efficient way to run a big market, professional basketball team? Probably not, but it looks like Lakers fans are going to have to live with the results for now. In the meantime, can Bryant and Pelinka wish for Kawhi Leonard to sign with the Lakers this summer? It seems like their dreams have a way of coming to fruition.