Posts Tagged ‘L.A. Lakers’

Mitch Kupchak was a very good NBA player for the Washington Bullets and L.A. Lakers

March 4, 2012
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Former Washington Bullet Mitch Kupchak at a charity event in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1980. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

I recently wrote an article on Examiner.com about how professional journalists continue to pronounce Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak’s name wrong. (It’s Kup-CHAK, not Kup-CHEK). That’s pretty pathetic.  Anyway, Kupchak has 10 NBA championship rings – seven with the Lakers as an executive, two as a player, and one as a player for the Washington Bullets in 1978. Kupchak was an All-America at North Carolina, ACC Player of the Year, started on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal, and played a key role as a member of the ’78 Bullets and ’85 Lakers championship teams. Jerry West put together most of the Lakers’ title teams, but Kupchak deserves credit for at least the two most recent ones.  Anyway, if Kupchak led the Knicks to a title rather than the Bullets, everyone would pronounce his name right.

It’s too bad how we always forget the past. Now I’m getting a little off topic, but Charles Barkley always mentions himself, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, and Dennis Rodman as the best power forwards ever, and he never mentions Elvin Hayes, as if basketball wasn’t played before Barkley’s era.

Never forget the Washington Bullets, the 1978 NBA champions.

Click here to read my article on Mitch Kupchak on Examiner.com.

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Former Washington Bullet Mitch Kupchak: 8 NBA championship rings

June 19, 2010

Former Washington Bullet and current L.A. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, circa 1981. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Congratulations to former Washington Bullet Mitch Kupchak, L.A. Lakers general manager, for putting together back-to-back NBA champions.

Is anybody ever going to pronounce Kupchak’s name correctly? It’s Kup-CHAK, not Kup-CHEK.  First, it was Jim Rome, who has done his show from L.A. for many years, who mispronounced his name over and over.  Then it was Ernie Johnson of TNT.  Then after Game 7 of the NBA finals it was NBA Commissioner David Stern saying “Kup-check.”  There have probably been many others.

How bout some respect for Kupchak, who has 8 NBA championship rings?  Kupchak won three championships as a player (one with the Washington Bullets in 1978 when he averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds as a reserve, one with the Lakers in ’82, and one with the Lakers in ’85), and five as a general manager.  Ok, Jerry West built the Kobe-Shaq threepeat Lakers, but Kupchak built the team that has made the finals now three years in a row, winning each of the last two seasons.

Kupchak averaged double figures in points for five of his first six seasons in the NBA, and overall, averaged 19 points a game for his nine NBA seasons when his minutes are projected over 36 minutes.

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe, one of the most respected sportswriters in the country, wrote two years ago, “Neither the 1978 Bullets nor the 1985 Lakers could have won championships” without Kupchak.

By the way, Kupchak also won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics and was an All-American at North Carolina.

Mitch Kupchak and the 1978 Washington Bullets: NBA Champions

June 17, 2009

Monday on his ESPN show, Jim Rome pronounced L.A. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak’s name wrong five times.  Rome pronounced it “Kupcheck” instead of “Kupchak.”  Rome should know better.  The worst thing about it is that Rome is based in L.A and Kupchak has been the GM of the Lakers for 9 seasons now. 

This is also Kupchak’s third NBA championship, winning the first two as a player, first with the Washington Bullets in 1978, and then with the Lakers in 1985.  (Kupchak was also on the 1982 Lakers who went on to win the title but only played in 27 games due to injuries).  

I know it’s easy to pick on sportscasters for individual mistakes, but this is a bad one.  Either Rome didn’t know how to pronounce Kupchak’s name or he read it off the teleprompter and didn’t correct the mistake of the writer.  And either way, it’s not too good. 

Kupchak averaged 16 points a game for the 1978 Bullets in just 26 minutes per game.  Kupchak was also an All-American in college, and won a gold medal for the U.S. in 1976.  He was a solid all-around player who worked hard and dove on the floor for loose balls.  

How about some respect for those Bullets, who had two of the greatest 50 players of all-time – Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld, plus Bobby Dandridge, a great small forward? 

Continuing on the subject of mistakes, the same day Sage Steele of ESPN said that the Lakers’ win was the first time an NBA team won the title after losing it the previous year.  Not true – in 1979, Seattle beat the Bullets after losing to them the previous season.  Part of the blame has to go to the writers on that one, though, if she didn’t write it.  

Contrary to popular belief, the NBA didn’t begin with Michael, Magic, and Larry.  Let’s get things right and also have some respect for the 1978 NBA champion Washington Bullets. 

Lakers-Celtics Rivalry

December 4, 2008

The L.A. Lakers-Boston Celtics matchup in the 2008 NBA Finals reminded us of the great Lakers-Celtics rivalry of the 1980s.  The games in the 1980s were spectacular and those teams made the NBA more popular than ever.  But the media seem to forget that the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers also had a great rivalry in the 1980s.  In fact, the Lakers and Sixers played each other in the NBA finals the same number of times (three) that the Lakers and Celtics played each other in the finals.  It just seems like the Lakers and Celtics played each other more often, because the Lakers won five championships in the 80s, the Celtics won three, and the Sixers had one. 

 

Speaking of the Celtics, hearing about Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen being called the “Big Three” and being compared with the “Big Three” of the Celtics in the 1980s also gets tiresome.  Not because the current Celtics stars don’t stack up – they do, talent-wise (whether they could beat the 80s Celtics is debatable).  But the Celtics of the 1980s were more than just the Big Three of Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish.  As much as I rooted against them (and I hated them like I hated the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, UNC basketball and Duke basketball), I have to admit that they had other players who were equally as important as Parish.  Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge were just as important as Parish, especially since the Celtics already had great front court players in Bird and McHale.  (Slam Magazine agrees that Parish wasn’t so much better than Dennis Johnson – on its top 75 NBA players of all time as of 2003, Johnson comes in at 63 whereas Parish was 56th).

 

Back to the Lakers.  The teams of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil, who won three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002, were nowhere near as good as the Lakers of the 1980s.  In 2002, the Sacramento Kings were a better team than the Kobe-Shaq Lakers, but the referees called the infamous Game 6 of the Western Conference finals overwhelmingly in favor of L.A., awarding the Lakers 27 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to the Kings nine.  Most fans know that something wasn’t right in that game. 

 

But less memorable was the fact that two years earlier, the Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals after being down by 15.  Of course, the Lakers played great and the Blazers choked.  However, at the same time there were a whole lot of bad calls made against the Blazers, probably because the NBA wanted the more glamorous, big market Lakers to advance.  The Lakers were granted 37 free throws in that game while the Blazers got 16.  You can only argue so much that the team that penetrates more gets more favorable calls because the 37-16 disparity was too great. 

 

Back to the point, though, that not only were two of Shaq and Kobe’s championships possibly tainted, but they simply wouldn’t have stacked up against Magic, Kareem, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green.  Finally, the teams the Kobe-Shaq Lakers beat – the New Jersey Nets, 76ers, and Indiana Pacers were not teams for the ages, and in 2004 they lost to the good but not great Detroit Pistons.  Meanwhile, in the 80s, the Lakers beat Dr. J’s Sixers twice, Bird’s Celtics twice, and Isaiah Thomas’ Pistons once.