malibu sports spotlight: Josh Rupprecht, L.A. Lakers organization

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Josh Rupprecht, Los Angeles Lakers. Dick Dornan / TMT

Josh Rupprecht, Pepperdine University class of 2001, recently finished his eleventh season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers public relations department. He was hired by the Lakers in September 2001 and became an employee of one of the most successful and storied franchises in sports.

Rupprecht, 32, graduated from El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif. and enrolled at Pepperdine in the fall of 1997. He majored in public relations and added advertising as his second major in his junior year.

In the summer of 2000, prior to his senior year, Rupprecht interned with the Los Angeles Lakers under the guidance of John Black, vice president of public relations. Shortly after his graduation as a Wave, a position opened and Rupprecht was offered a job by Black.

In his 11 years with the department, the Lakers have won four championships and been to the NBA finals six times. Rupprechet said he aspires one day to be a public relations director of a professional team.

The Malibu Times caught up with Rupprecht recently at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo to discuss his time with the purple and gold.

What did your time at Pepperdine mean to you?

“Incredible friendships. You meet your friends for life. Even though everyone goes their separate ways, you pick up where you left off when you see them again. That’s the one thing that stands out.

“I always said that Pepperdine would be a great country club if you didn’t have to go to school there. But the classes were great. The small classes and individualized attention was good. It was nice to have faculty there who invested their time in you and cared about you as a person.”

What are your responsibilities in your current capacity as senior manager of public relations for the Lakers?

“In public relations you are the liaison between the media and the players. I help facilitate the interviews and get the players to photo requests. I’ve written, published and designed the team media guide since 2003. I do a lot of publication work, write press releases and compile game notes. I help assist with the media coverage here and on road trips.”

What is the most challenging part of your job?

“This job is a giant time commitment. My friends joke around and say that I get paid to watch basketball. I can’t complain because it is a fantastic job, but people don’t realize that you come in at 9 a.m. and leave at 11:30 p.m. on a game day. I work in the office, go to practices and games. During the season it is seven days a week and it could be up to 14 or 15 hours a day. I joke with my friends and tell them that I can be their friends starting in June (end of season) and will be good through September (start of training camp).”

What has been your fondest moment with the Lakers?

“I’m not sure you can point to one moment. As recent as last year and winning the Boston series was just great. A decade into working here and it is a moment that I will never forget.

“I remember being in Boston in 2008 for game six and how brutal that game was. It was a terrible loss and so hard for the guys. To come back last year and be a part of that experience (2010 NBA title) was incredible.”

What does it mean to you to work for such a tradition-rich franchise as the LA Lakers?

“It’s an honor to be here. I’ve been around Magic Johnson who I grew up watching, James Worthy, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan and I think to myself, ‘I grew up in El Toro. What am I doing here?’

“It’s nice to do what you love. I grew up loving sports and loving to write. Being able to do what you enjoy on a daily basis is the best part. It’s been great.”

What has it been like to work with Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, two icons in the NBA?

“I learned a lot from Phil. Just how he carried himself, how he prepared the team and managed them. You could see how he is the greatest coach of all-time. He never got too high or too low. The way he prepared the team was almost inexplicable. To witness that firsthand was great.

“I was responsible for his media stuff during the last three finals. So I got to spend a lot of time with him taking him from interview to interview. Listening to his stories and discussing things with him. We had a great relationship and I really enjoyed working with him. I’m going to miss him.

“You take for granted how great of a player Kobe is. You see the spectacular every night. You come to expect that from him. I don’t think people fully appreciate what he gives you. He’s a special talent. It’s the behind-the-scenes part of the job that I see that makes him great. It’s a privilege to watch him play firsthand.”