LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak Tuesday spoke with CBS Sports Radio about the team’s troubled season, as well as the recent passing of owner Jerry Buss.
Kupchak told John Feinstein that the loss was very difficult for Buss’ family, as well as the team and the fans.
“You know, the family, I just begin can’t begin to imagine losing somebody who’s been an icon and a father and a friend to so many people here in Los Angeles,” he said, adding that he will remember Buss’ love for the team.
“He loved being the owner of the Lakers. He took great pride in winning; he kind of made it personal as a family-owned business to every year try to win. There’s really nobody he enjoyed beating more than the Boston Celtics. Those kinds of feelings that he displayed really kind of endeared himself to the people of Los Angeles. I mean who wouldn’t want an owner that after what the Lakers went through in 60s against the Celtics that would spend whatever it took to spend to win and on top of that actually win?”
Kupchak also discussed the timing of Buss’ passing.
“The timing was very odd,” he said. “Who could plan that our owner would pass away on a Monday, and then a day or so later, we’d end up playing in the first game against the Celtics since his death? The ceremony that evening was very appropriate and touching. The next day there was a much bigger memorial in downtown Los Angeles. Fortunately, our guys cooperated and won the game against the Celtics on Wednesday night.”
Despite an uptick in wins over the last few weeks, Kupchak hinted that it’s too late for the team to really bounce back.
“Every organization goes through stretches. You know, to win a championship in this league, you really have to go through the season relatively unscathed. You have to kind of avoid as much controversy as possible,” he said, later adding, “The bad thing is that we dug a hole and here it is the end of February and now we’re finally starting to play basketball. This is a very unforgiving league.”