Why Didn’t The Lakers Hire Brian Shaw?
To me, one of the most curious situations of all this NBA offseason is the Lakers decision to hire Mike Brown as
head coach rather than promoting longtime assistant Brian Shaw to the position. As a player, Shaw advanced to four NBA Finals-
one with the Orlando Magic in 1996 and three with the Lakers (2001-2003), winning all three as a Laker.
In addition to the Finals appearances, Shaw played with some great players throughout his career. As a first round
draft pick of the Boston Celtics, he was teammates with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson,
learning the game from some of the all-time greats.From there he moved onto the Miami Heat and played alongside
Glen Rice and Steve Smith.He then joined Orlando and became teammates to Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway,
becoming a mentor to the latter. From there he joined the Lakers and was a key reserve on their championship squads.
before becoming an assistant coach and learning from possibly the greatest coach ever, Phil Jackson.
So why did the Lakers not only pass him over, but do him so dirty?
"I wasn’t really told anything," said Shaw. "Unfortunately, I found about not getting the job and who was hired for the job on ESPN.
I didn’t really talk to anyone for about three weeks after that."
And even now that he’s moved on as an assistant coach with the Pacers, there still is no clear answer as to why
he was passed over. At least not one that makes sense.
"All the speculation and what I’ve heard, the powers making those decisions felt like the team needed a change of
culture and a new voice, and head in a new direction," Shaw said. "I thought that was kind of peculiar because in
the 12 years I’d been there, all we had done was gone to the championship seven times and won five championships.
I felt like there were 29 other teams in the league that would love to have that kind of culture and that kind
So what is so special about Mike Brown to pass over Shaw’s pedigree and relationship with the organization?
Supposedly it’s based on his reputation as being a ‘player’s coach’. But if that’s the logic, how is Shaw NOT the man? Not only does he have the player’s respect in a way no outside hire could ever conjure, he actually played with some of the guys still on the team.
For as impressive as Shaw’s pedigree is, Mike Brown has learned from his fair share of successful coaches.
Brown first served as an assistant coach under the Gregg Popovich, then Rick Carlisle, before being hired as a head coach
and being named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for Cleveland. But his entire time in Cleveland was mired in skepticism;
with LeBron James playing at the level he was, how much did Brown even have to do? Not much is the answer.
Hiring Brown over Shaw makes no sense to me, and a lot of other people. Brown is a stop gap who may last two years.
Shaw had the makings of being a decade long face for the franchise, to continue and build upon what he learned from Phil Jackson.