If you didn’t know Rob Pelinka was one of the most important people in this post-Kobe Bryant Lakers era, the yin to Magic Johnson’s yang in the front office overhauled by owner Jeanie Buss in February, you might mistake him for one of those well-to-do fans who watches from his front row seat at Staples Center.

At least on this day.

The team’s 47-year-old general manager, the Rob Lowe look-a-like who went to three Final Fours with the Fab Five teams at Michigan and later spent 18 years as Bryant's agent before making this massive career turn, is dressed head to toe in purple and gold as he sits inside the Lakers’ new $80 million training center. The Nike shoes. The hooded sweatshirt. The high-end sweat pants.

It’s casual Friday where approximately 150 Lakers employees work, and Pelinka – who’s watching their team’s latest practice from a second-story loft that features a plate-glass window – can see his role on this revamped squad more clearly than ever.


“When I walk through the front door, I always remind myself that, 'On this day, you're not more important than anyone else in what we're trying to accomplish here,’” Pelinka told USA TODAY Sports recently. “If you look at it that way, and if you lead with support and service, man you end up having a really incredible impact and a great day. That's what I've experienced.