Celebrity sightings are more the norm than the exception when you live in Los Angeles, especially if you're familiar with TMZ's hot spots (like King's Road in West Hollywood, Restaurant Row in West LA, most anywhere in Beverly Hills, etc.).
But, as someone who grew up watching the Lakers, there's nothing for me quite like happening upon a franchise legend unexpectedly.
Which is why, when I ran into Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak while pumping gas over the weekend, I couldn't help but be taken aback. No, not because the guy's 6'9, wears awesome sunglasses and drives a stylish-yet-unassuming Benz, though those factors all made the spectacle that much more child-wonderment-inducing.
Rather, it was because Mitch was a key role player on two Showtime champions, learned the tricks of the front-office trade under Jerry West, oversaw two title-winners built with The Logo's handiwork, constructed a two-time Larry O'Brien Trophy-winning team of his own and now has the Lakers back in position to compete for the crown with a summer of wheeling-and-dealing for the record books.
Eat your heart out, Magic Johnson!
Still, for a guy of his physical and reputational stature, Kupchak remains an unassuming giant. When I yelled across the the gas station, "MITCH! GOOD WORK THIS SUMMER!", he replied by sheepishly waving his hand and quietly mouthing "Thank you" before ducking into his shiny whip and driving off into what I assume was an early-afternoon sunset.
Like a boss. True story, to which my friend Rhoee can attest.
Such is the Tao of Mitch, from which the rest of the NBA's front-office power brokers could (and probably should) learn plenty.