Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak’s Spain-Sized Heist Still Steals the Show

Kobe Bryant grunted, then pumped his fists in celebration.


He mouthed “yeah boi” in Grant Hill’s direction before running back on defense.


Somehow, even as he delivered another 40-point playoff outing, this night wasn’t about him.


The L.A. Lakers routed the Phoenix Suns 128-107 in Game One of the Western Conference Finals, and Bryant was merely the show boater masking the real story. The man most responsible for this reversal of fortune stays behind the scenes.


Cameras did not pan to him during the TNT telecast. Often cursed but rarely praised, this guy gets my MVP vote.


Not Lamar Odom. Not Phil Jackson. Not Derek Fisher. Not Ron Artest. Sorry, Jack, love your work, but you need to sit down.


Three years ago when the Suns ousted the Lakers in the first round, he was public enemy No. 1. Funny how things change, huh? The real architect of Monday night's merciless beat-down was GM Mitch Kupchak.



Less than a year after the five-game embarrassment that sent Bryant into a frothing rage and Laker fans to psychiatrist offices, Kupchak made the deal that no executive has been able to answer since.


No single transaction in the last five years has meant more than the one that shipped Pau Gasol from Memphis to L.A.


The Suns felt its impact again when a would-be nail biter became a laugher in the third quarter. Then, the Lakers mounted a 10-0 run from which the Suns never recovered. Steve Nash sat down moments earlier for a few-minute rest. L.A.’s end of quarter surge afforded him a fourth-quarter respite. He did not return to the court.


Gasol deserves credit for making Kupchak’s steal work the way it has. He scored 21 po...

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