On December 12, General Manager of the Lakers Rob Pelinka spoke to students about how dedication from an early age to education, athletics, and his faith all helped lead to his professional success.
Students were invited to participate in a Q&A, during which they learned that Mr. Pelinka believes a good team crucially requires a positive attitude, humility, focus, and collaboration. He shared that his job is challenging but fun. Trading a player is the hardest thing, because someone’s life changes as a result of your decision. In general, Mr. Pelinka loves competition, be it on the court, or at home, playing “Uno” or “The Game of Life” in front of the fireplace with his family.
In response to one question about his job, Mr. Pelinka told a story about his work and friendship with retired Lakers all-star Kobe Bryant, and his admiration for his friend’s pursuit of a variety of interests. One summer, the two of them went on an 18-hour boat ride to the coast of Mexico to then wait in a shark cage for two hours in the hopes of observing a great white shark, the stealth and speed of which Mr. Bryant sought to emulate on the court. Finally, a shark the size of a semi truck passed over them, and the two were awe-struck. In the Lakers season that followed, Mr. Bryant scored a career-high of 81 points in one game.
Mrs. Evans asked Mr. Pelinka whether he loved to read as much as his fifth-grade son does. Mr. Pelinka responded that he is always reading a book. In this spirit of pursuing a variety of interests, speakers are brought in to expose the team’s players to a variety of people and experiences to challenge them in new ways, including: athlete, actor and producer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tesla founder Elon Musk, and actor Denzel Washington. His answer to fourth-grader Sienna N.’s question, “How did you balance school work and basketball as a student?” was motivational. “Balance, organization, and preparation,” he said, adding that keeping balance is key to success.