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“Shaq and Kobe used to slam basketballs up against Mitch Kupchak’s office window” — Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant hated how the Lakers chose Kupchak over Jerry West

Very disrespectful from Shaq and Kobe given the fact Kupchak didn't do anything wrong.
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, center Shaquille O'Neal, and guard Kobe Bryant

Mitch Kupchak, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant

When Jerry West could no longer handle his job as the Los Angeles Lakers general manager in 2000, he stepped down without formal notice and flew straight to Alaska. At that time, The Logo was dealing with personal stress and burnout, and he also didn't like the idea of Phil Jackson gradually controlling the Lakers franchise over him.

So when West stepped down, the Lakers' assistant general manager Mitch Kupchak took over his role, which didn't sit well with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

O'Neal and Bryant didn't have the same respect for Kupchak.

O'Neal and Bryant respected and admired West so much because he brought and formed the duo together in Los Angeles. West was the first executive who believed in and drafted Bryant in the 1996 NBA Draft and played a huge role in acquiring O'Neal via free agency in the same year.

Both superstars had an attachment to West, so they were furious when they discovered that the general manager was no longer part of the franchise.

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"I was very upset. Jerry's my guy. I'm only here 'cause of him. I actually tried to stick up for him, and he says' 'Nope, stand down, big fella. Let me handle it'," O'Neal revealed in the 7th episode of Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers documentary. "I don't want to talk about Mitch, I'm a Jerry West guy," O'Neal added when asked to comment about Kupchak taking over.

After Kupchak took over West's seat, both O'Neal and Bryant didn't stop making their anger known. They would go as far as disrespecting Kupchak while they were all in the facility to send a message that they didn't appreciate him as much as they loved Jerry West.

"I remember Shaq and Kobe being pretty cruel to him at the practice facility. Mitch's office overlooked the court and Shaq and Kobe used to slam basketballs up against Mitch's window while he was at the computer. Mitch would jump and they would just laugh. And then, you know, like the respect level between what was shown to Jerry West and what was shown to Mitch at the very beginning was very, very different," Brian Shaw, who was O'Neal and Bryant's teammate, revealed.

Phil Jackson had Mitch Kupchak's back.

One of the biggest reasons why Kupchak took West's seat as the Lakers' general manager in the first place was because of his relationship with Phil Jackson. Jackson and Kupchak had a strong bond even before they crossed paths in Los Angeles, and it helped that the latter respected how Jackson was slowly taking over the franchise — something West disapproved of.

"I knew that [Jerry West leaving] was gonna be a loss for the team, but you know, Mitch and I knew each other for years," Jackson admitted

Ultimately, Kupchak and Jackson led the Lakers to 2 more championships and 3 NBA Finals appearances before the Lakers' Shaq and Kobe era expired. In Jackson and Bryant's second stint together, they won 2 more titles and made it to 3 NBA Finals appearances as well, all of which were under Kupchak's reign.

Suffice it to say that retaining Kupchak at the letting go of West eventually worked for the Los Angeles Lakers — even if O'Neal and Bryant disapproved of it at the beginning. 

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