CHARLOTTE — Former North Carolina basketball star Michael Jordan has turned to another former Tar Heel to lead his NBA franchise by hiring Mitch Kupchak as the new president and general manager of the Charlotte Hornets.
Kupchak, who won multiple championships from 2000-10 with the Los Angeles Lakers as general manager, replaces the recently fired Rich Cho. His duties will include leading the Hornets’ day-to-day operations.
“In every role and in every stop during his tenure in the NBA, Mitch Kupchak has brought the highest levels of success to his teams. He’s a proven winner,” Jordan said in a statement issued Sunday. “Having won championships as both a player and an executive, we have confidence that Mitch is the right person to lead our basketball operations, build a winning culture and bring sustained success to our organization, for our fans and for the city of Charlotte.”
Kupchak, 63, was a first-round pick by the Washington Bullets in 1976 and was a part of three championship-winning teams in Washington and Los Angeles. But it was his career in the front office where he really earned his reputation.
Starting in 1986, he worked in Lakers management under Hall of Fame player and then-general manager Jerry West. Kupchak gained the powers of a traditional GM in 2000 upon West’s departure.
His most celebrated move as GM was landing Pau Gasol to pair with Kobe Bryant, which led the Lakers to two NBA titles and three straight trips to the NBA Finals. The Lakers fired Kupchak in February 2017 amid a front-office shakeup.
I’m excited to join the Hornets organization and I want to thank Michael for this opportunity,” said Kupchak. “I am well aware of the passion for basketball in Charlotte and throughout the entire state of North Carolina, and I am confident that we can build the Hornets into a successful team that our great fans can be proud of.”
According to a report by ESPN, assistant GM Buzz Peterson will remain with the Hornets in a front office role.