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The Lakers' New GM

I was hoping to talk to Awvee Storey last night for any number of reasons. To begin with, there was his jersey, which mistakenly read "Story" on the back. My old "Matt's News" softball jersey read "Steinburg" on the back, but I figured the NBA employed better proofreaders than a slow-pitch softball league.

I also wanted to get Awvee's feelings about his old wrestling-mate Gilbert Arenas's "Takeover" season, and about his own career progress, after his D-League incident and all. He was certainly noticeable in yesterday's win over the Sonics, going for 13 points, 6 rebounds and 9 fouls.


This, right here, is the NBA's Summer League, aka Andy Martinez. (By Sports Bog)

But I never got to talk with Awvee, due to multiple arena exits and the extreme rudeness of a Thomas & Mack Center employee who insisted that I could not possibly stand within 75 feet of a Summer League locker room. And so instead, I wandered back into the gym, where the shot-clock didn't work and the PA announcer had to count down the seconds left to shoot the ball, where the Lakers were playing the Greg Oden-less Blazers, and I was left to do a story about the guy in the suit and shaved head carrying the sign pictured here.

He was holding it over his head and yelling in the general direction of either current GM Mitch Kupchak or the Lakers bench, depending on his mood. His friends were extremely happy about all this. Eventually, the game ops people showed Andy on the video board, and everyone in the arena cheered.

At this point, even the people on the Lakers bench couldn't help but notice. "Hey Tex, Tex!" the guy with the sign yelled toward Tex Winter. "I love you Tex. I'm telling you, baby!"

Tex turned and smiled and gave us a wave. I asked the guy, whose name was Andy Martinez, for an explanation, but he was too fired up to speak, and so his friends filled in for him.

"Somebody needs to replace Mitch Kupchak," Elliott Robertson started.

"I'll take a high school drop-out over Mitch Kupchak," B.J. Boyce continued. "I'll take a guy who plays EA Sports all day over Mitch Kupchak. I play NBA Live; does that make me a GM?"

Finally Andy chimed in.

"I'm a playground legend, brother, you better know," he said, by way of introduction. I asked whether he could really do a better job as an NBA GM than Kupchak.

"I can do no worse, put it like that," he said. "The dude is an absolute fraud, write that down. A fraud and an embarrassment." Then he started yelling again: "Hey Mitch, make it happen! McHale's over there, McHale's in the building. Make it happen."

"It," of course, being a trade for K.G., which famously launched the GetGarnett blog, of which Andy and his friends are fans. They then went through their litany of Kupchak complaints: failing to land Jason Kidd, failing to get proper return for Shaq, failing to land Carlos Boozer, failing to land Ron Artest, failing to land Baron Davis, giving too much to Luke Walton and Vlad Radmanovic, and getting swindled in the Caron-Kwame deal, which Andy described in very descriptive terms not fit for a family blog.

"I come here as a supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers--not a fan, a supporter--to let Mitch Kupchak once again know that if he's incompetent and can't get the job done, he needs to step down and let someone else get the job done," Andy said. "Something needs to be done. [Fans] understand that Mitch Kupchak has been an embarrassment and a disgrace to the organization. If he can't step up and get something done, he needs to resign."

In between all this, of course, Andy continued to heckle Kupchak, who was sitting maybe 30 rows back of us and paid us no mind, although he could not have missed Andy and his get-up. Anyhow, I asked Andy's friends whether they'd really be happy if there buddy became the team's GM.

"I'd be happy with Mickey Mouse as GM right now," Boyce said. "I really would. I'm not just saying that because of L.A. and Disneyland; I'd be happier with an animated character running the Lakers than Mitch Kupchak. I'd be happier with George Bush than Mitch Kupchak--there's your Washington connection. I'd have more faith in this girl walking right here running the Lakers than Mitch Kupchak, and I don't even know her name."

The girl, though, was walking fairly fast, and so I never got to ask her what she'd do if she replaced Mitch Kupchak.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 12, 2007; 1:54 PM ET
Categories:  NBA  
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Next: Greg Oden on Daniel Artest

Comments

I still don't understand how people can blame Kupchack when he's rendered powerless by Jerry and Jim Buss. What's he supposed to do?

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | July 12, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

You know, there is a group of fans out there who support a team whose GM makes every deal that comes his way. The guy jumps on every name player on the trading block, and he always gets his man.

Ask Andy if he'd like to be a Knicks fan for a week.

Kidd/Artest/Davis help the Lakers beat the Spurs/Mavs/Pistons how?

Posted by: bryc3 | July 12, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I love that everyone criticizing Mitch Kupchak brings up Carlos Boozer...WHO WAS NEVER TRADED. Neither was Jason Kidd, but hey, those are just details, right? If Kobe REALLY wanted help, maybe he should have taken a smaller contract? He could have asked KG about that...

Posted by: Life's a Mitch | July 12, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Majority of laker fans are stupid and hypocritical. If I recall many of them resented the idea of trading for guys like boozer, Artest, Kidd, and Davis at the time the deals were presented. It was either Boozer and Davis were too "injury prone", no thanks. Or Artest is too much of a head case, no way. Or Kidd is too old. I bet you the same thing is gonna happen with J'Oneal. I bet down the road, those same fans are gonna cry at Mitch again for not pulling a JO trade. Some Laker fans also are greedy as hell. They want to a superstar but arent willing to give up their valuable assets to do so. They want JO and Kidd but don't want to give up Bynum. Im even hearing some talk of some wanting KG but not willing to give up Bynum in a deal to get him. How ridiculous is that?

Posted by: True Laker fan | July 12, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

For all of you who continue to defend management's ineptitude, the following is a rap sheet of the front office A.W. (After West):

1. Allowed Jerry West to walk. They simply let the greatest Laker of all time to leave the organization without a fight. West saw the politics and disarray of the front office once Jim Buss came into power, and wanted no part of it. The Lakers have been on a downward spiral ever since.
2. Allowed a horse training drug addict to have full authority over basketball decisions. Am I in the Twilight Zone? Did this really happen? Will we really be stuck with Jim as the basketball brain of the Lakers for the next few decades?
3. Traded Shaq for a package that included Brian Grant's ridiculous contract.
4. Was not honest with Shaq. Shaq may have been lazy, but he was a major factor in resurrecting the Laker legacy, and deserved at least some honesty from the front office. When we retire Shaq's jersey, will he even want to come back to an organization that showed him such blatant disrespect? (By the way, Shaq's new show is pretty entertaining.)
5. Traded Caron Butler/Chucky Atkins for Kwame friggin' Brown.
6. Drafted Brian Cook in the first round over Josh Howard and Barbosa, despite our scout, Ron Harper's desperate pleas to management to draft Barbosa, calling him a sure fire star. Thanks Jim and Mitch. Our starting lineup could have been Barbosa, Kobe, Caron and Lamar plus a free agent defensive big man. I'm gonna cry!
7. Re-signed Brian Cook (a soft big man that can't jump, move laterally, rebound or play any defense, and disrespects a HOF coach).
8. Seemingly content with Smush friggin' Parker as the starting point guard for two years.
9. Resigned Slava Medvadenko (the only Euro player worse than Sasha).
10. Signed 60 year old Vlade Divac. This signing was a bigger flop than Divac's defense on Shaq.
11. Signed 50 year old Aaron McKie (the same guy that couldn't even get any minutes on the Sixers).
12. In desperate need of a point guard, signed Shammond Williams.
13. Placed the "untouchable" tag on Bynum after promising Kobe that the team will NOT rebuild. (the tag was subsequently taken off after Kobe's statement after game 5 that he wanted a contender NOW).
14. Refused to trade for Mr. Triple Double - Jason Kidd to hold on to Andrew Bynuwakandi (further confirming that rebuilding is a higher priority than winning NOW).
15. Jim Buss stated publicly that Kobe can be traded and criticized Phil's coaching. (Who in their right mind would even mention trading your superstar or insult your hall of fame coach in public?)
16. FO insider (Jim) LIES to the media to deflect the blame away from the FO and redirect it at Kobe.
17. As of today, no accountability or punishment for the insider (Jim Buss). Publicly addressing the "insider" issue would lessen the tension between the FO and Kobe. What is the FO waiting for? Fire the insider!
18. During a Lakers crisis, the owner is caught for drugs and a DUI, than flies off to China.
19. Johnny Buss wishes Kobe good luck "wherever he goes" on a MySpace blog.
20. Lied to Kobe that the FO plans to contend NOW, and have NO PLANS to rebuild. Kupcake than asks Kobe how he thinks Bynum will be in ten years? In Kobe's words "are you friggin' kidding me?!?!" Can the FO really be this clueless? Uh..scratch that last question.

Posted by: Mitchell | July 13, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I live in So Cal and have been a Laker fan my whole life. When I see stuff like this, it makes me cringe, because a joker like that, because he screams the loudest, gets the most attention and becomes some sort of dubious representative for Laker fans.

Who's the best GM in the league? Name him. Don't tell me Jerry West, because as legendary as he is, Memphis is a joke. Who then? R.C. Buford? Let Tim Duncan fall in any GM's lap and they can also build a great team. It's easy to bash Mitch, but what has he really done wrong? Trade Shaq? Talk to Jerry Buss about that. Pass on trades for Kidd and Davis (I don't know that Boozer or Artest were ever really on the table)? What has Davis ever done in this league? He gets motivated for one playoff series (the biggest, most excited upset in NBA history...granted) and now he's a stud? What's Artest done...ever?

Sure, the Kwame for Caron trade didn't work. But, Kupchak did get Maurice Evans in exchange for a 2nd round pick. And maybe drafting Sasha and Cook hasn't panned out. But, he did draft Bynum, Jordan Farmer, Rony Turiaf and Luke Walton; each of whom have become regular rotation players, a feat that not many GMs can claim.

So, please don't mistake someone with a cute sign and a big mouth as a regular, everyday, Laker fan.

Posted by: Martin | July 13, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah bring back the "Logo" -- what a success the Grizzlies were under his tenure. Gasol hurt well so was most of the Laker team. If things go well Mitch will get no credit -- hope he makes good money being subjected to all this ignorant -- --.

Posted by: richslew | July 14, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

2002, lakers in need of a PF,traded for kareem rush (picked @ #20 by toronto), instead of drafting BOOZER @ #27. boozer wound up going in rd# 2 to the cavs @ #34. we brought in malone instead for one season, although we could have had them both. and boozer should have never been a second round pick.

Posted by: monk | July 14, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

This guy carrying the sign reminds me of someone outside a carwash. People who understand basketball and how it works also understand that it is not so simple as a GM. This guy just wants attention and he is a good marketing of his own inept propaganda. BTW, thanks Mitch, Crittenton looks great, Bynum will be an all star, Luke you got in the 2nd round, great pick, Your not going to trade much to get an injury prone oneal whose best days are behind him. You have drafted the next center and point guard for the next 15 years in Bynum and Crittenton. Your critics are only simple minded fans who don't know the game of basketball.

Posted by: casey | July 16, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

This guy carrying the sign reminds me of someone outside a carwash. People who understand basketball and how it works also understand that it is not so simple as a GM. This guy just wants attention and he is a good marketing of his own inept propaganda. BTW, thanks Mitch, Crittenton looks great, Bynum will be an all star, Luke you got in the 2nd round, great pick, Your not going to trade much to get an injury prone oneal whose best days are behind him. You have drafted the next center and point guard for the next 15 years in Bynum and Crittenton. Your critics are only simple minded fans who don't know the game of basketball.

Posted by: casey | July 16, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

This guy carrying the sign reminds me of someone outside a carwash. People who understand basketball and how it works also understand that it is not so simple as a GM. This guy just wants attention and he is a good marketing of his own inept propaganda. BTW, thanks Mitch, Crittenton looks great, Bynum will be an all star, Luke you got in the 2nd round, great pick, Your not going to trade much to get an injury prone oneal whose best days are behind him. You have drafted the next center and point guard for the next 15 years in Bynum and Crittenton. Your critics are only simple minded fans who don't know the game of basketball.

Posted by: casey | July 16, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

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