LFHS Graduate Rob Pelinka (’88) Takes Over as Lakers GM


Joe Thomas

It has been a busy couple of days in the NBA world with the trade deadline right around the corner. A multitude of superstars–including Chicago Bulls superstar small forward Jimmy Butler–have been targeted by some of the 32 NBA organizations. While most teams are either beginning to rebuild, or are strengthening their roster with players already under contract, the Los Angeles Lakers took a different approach. Over the course of the week, the Lakers have been reshaping their front office. Lakers legend Magic Johnson recently got hired to become the President of the organization, and, on top of that, the Lakers named Rob Pelinka, an LFHS alumni, their new GM.

Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers introduced Rob Pelinka as their General Manager.  Pelinka, a  Lake Forest High School graduate in 1988, broke out not only as a basketball star, but one of the best players to ever come through the high school. He earned All-America honors while as leading the Scouts to their first ever conference championship. During his junior and senior seasons, he was being heavily recruited by college scouts from major Division 1 schools. At first, Pelinka wasn’t getting many offers from terrific basketball programs, but once he concluded his senior season with a 30 PPG average and a 41% three point shooting clip colleges with tremendous basketball programs, like Wisconsin and Notre Dame, began to send offers. Eventually, Pelinka chose Michigan, and, needless to say, having competed in the Final Four with the fabled Fab 5 made the right choice.

At Michigan, Rob Pelinka studied Business. Pelinka played with one of the best Michigan basketball teams of all time, which was known for having the Fab Five stars of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, and Juwan Howard, all of whom enjoyed great NBA careers. Pelinka was a part of three NCAA Final Four appearances along with winning the NCAA Championship in 1989, which leaves him alone as the only student in school history to make it to the the semifinals in three of the four years that he attended the university. Although Pelinka made history at Michigan he didn’t make it as far as playing in the NBA like some of his teammates did, but that didn’t keep him from being part of the most famous basketball league in the world.

After college, Pelinka founded Landmark Sports Industry, which led to him becoming the agent of one of the greatest players of all time, Kobe Bryant. As Kobe’s athletic ability became stronger and stronger and his popularity consequently rose, Rob Pelinka developed a firm relationship with the Lakers’ organization. Once Bryant retired at the end of the 2015-16 season, Pelinka dedicated more time to his business, but it didn’t take long for him to become a well-known sports public figure once again.

As mentioned prior, the Los Angeles Lakers, who were recently ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the top three most valuable basketball teams in the world, hired Lake Forest High School’s own Rob Pelinka to be their general manager, making him the most powerful figure in the organization behind Magic Johnson.

Rob Pelinka’s rise to becoming the Lakers GM should send a message to all students of Lake Forest to always dream big. In this day in age, nothing is impossible–especially when the students attend one of the best schools in the country that presents teenagers with more opportunity than perhaps any other high school could.