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Shaw’s account of leaving L.A. should make Lakers fans nervous

Nov 1, 2011, 7:22 PM EDT

Phil Jackson, Brian Shaw AP

Kobe Bryant and most Lakers fans may not have liked it, but Brian Shaw never really stood a chance to become the Lakers next head coach. Shaw was qualified, and a top Lakers assistant, but his candidacy was doomed because he implied more of the same and Jim Buss wanted to put his stamp on the organization. Mike Brown was a radical departure, that’s what the powers that be wanted.

It’s not a bad thing — Mike Brown can coach. This team can win with him.

However, the vibe around the change and how it all went down should make Lakers fans nervous about the future.

Shaw said that even within the Lakers organization he needed to distance himself from Jackson — the guy who won the franchise five rings — to have a better chance to get the job. It’s old issues and family dynamics that could hurt the franchise in the future. That was the core of Shaw’s message when he opened up to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompson

“Phil let me know going into the interview [with the Lakers] for me to almost disassociate myself from him, that anything that I said about him or the triangle system would hurt me because of his lack of relationship with Jimmy Buss,” Shaw said. “So when I did interview, that was the point that I tried to make about the fact that I had played for Phil only my last four years, and that I played for all of these other coaches.”

“There were some things that were said that I won’t really get into,” Shaw said. “It was kind of bashing Phil Jackson, that I just refused to just sit and listen to. And that’s when I said, ‘Hey, I love Phil Jackson. I appreciate everything that we’ve all been able to accomplish under him. We’ve all prospered since he’s been the coach here….

“It was more from Jimmy Buss just doubting some of the decisions he made in terms of how he was handling and running the team and coaching the team on the sidelines, and sitting down instead of getting up. People look at coaches and want them to pace up and down the sidelines and bark instructions to the guys. That’s not Phil’s demeanor. That was viewed as a negative in my estimation — but it won him five championships with the Lakers and six with the Bulls, and that was his coaching style when he won, so why was that not acceptable now?”

How much Jackson yelled at the officials was a concern? Really?

Understand the dynamic at play here. The first time Phil Jackson left the Lakers, it was Jim Buss who had pushed hard for Rudy Tomjanovich to take over as coach. That backfired and was a disaster that left Frank Hamblen — a smart man who was not suited for the big chair — in charge. Combine that with the unpopular trade of Shaquille O’Neal before that season and you pissed off Lakers season ticket holders. Really pissed off. The Lakers held a season ticket holders meeting during that season and sent Mitch Kupchak out as the sacrificial lamb, when neither the Shaq trade nor the Rudy T. hire were his call.

Then Jeanie Buss — the business smart daughter of Jerry who is well respected by other NBA owners because she gets it — rides to the rescue bringing back boyfriend Phil Jackson. It was an expensive pill but bringing him back calmed season ticket holders down. It was worth the money. Eventually, it led to two more rings.

But he was not Jim Buss’ guy. So when it came time to make a change Jim put his stamp on the organization. Not only is Jackson gone, Shaw never had a chance. But it goes deeper than that — 25-year Laker and assistant GM Ronnie Lester is gone. Rudy Garciduenas, the equipment manager since the Showtime era, is gone. Scouts are gone. Anyone considered a Jackson guy is gone.

Loyalty and tradition seemed to be gone, too. That’s what should make Lakers fans nervous. The disrespect of all things Phil Jackson — a guy who won the franchise five rings and made the Buss family much more rich — should make Lakers fans nervous.

I’m undecided on Jim Buss right now. The son of longtime owner Jerry Buss he has made some good calls we know of. For example, pushing to draft Andrew Bynum. But there are other questions now if the young Buss can be the steady hand that his father was. Jerry Buss was good at letting the basketball people make most of the basketball decisions and only stepping in on the biggest issues. Can Jim do that?

Hard to say, but if the franchise is going to continue it’s run of success, it comes down to Buss making mature decisions. And after the Shaw incident, Lakers fans should be a little nervous wondering if that will happen.

  1. sonofsambowie - Nov 1, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    Well, bless your optimism but Laker fans don’t have any faith in little Jimmy, and we’ve known Jim Buss was pulling A Jerry Krause “I’m smarter than Phil move” since the Mike Brown hiring.

  2. danielcp0303 - Nov 1, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Mike Brown can coach? I’m sure he can, but not very well. His go to play was give the ball to 23 beyond the 3 point line and see what he can do. Didn’t work out so well.

    • henryd3rd - Nov 2, 2011 at 7:28 AM

      How many Championships did Mike Brown win in Cleveland? I see history repeating itself here. Good regular season record and second round out in the playoffs. Remember Kobe is not getting any younger and can you depend on Andrew in the Playoffs? Phil had year of experience in dealing with big egos. Mike Brown has what?

  3. hoopsmccann - Nov 1, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    I don’t know Daniel. As good as Lebron is I don’t see him leading the Cavs to the best record in the NBA two years in a row by himself. He didn’t do it with his current coach with Wade and Bosh on his team. I think the man CAN coach.

    • danielcp0303 - Nov 1, 2011 at 8:34 PM

      He can coach a solid defense. As we’ve all seen, Lebron can get his team a lot of wins just based on his talent throughout the season. Offensively though, Mike Brown is a wreck. It’s just the truth. And the Heat were 4 games out of the best record in the NBA, in his first year there…and it kills me to say that, because I’m not a Lebron fan. Mike Brown should be an assistant to work with the defense, not the head coach of the Lakers.

  4. sonofsambowie - Nov 1, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Mike Brown is a good defensive coach schematically, but Jim Buss has essentially gone full steam ahead under the idea that Andrew Bynum and Mike Brown are his centerpieces. Hardly sounds promising to Laker fans.

    • trueballs - Nov 1, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      coaching for the regular season and coaching for the post-season are two different animals. It’s more about leadership than anything. I think he had more faith in LeBron running the offense than himself…not to say that LeBron didn’t hijack the offense at times.

      I do think Brown is a better coach than he gets credit for….but look for similar leadership issues….the core of the Lakers knows how to win championships and he’s going to have to work hard for their trust.

  5. mondzy805 - Nov 1, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Who does Jimmy think he is? His Sister is the one who has the Respect of David Stern. Lakers fans should be nervous.

  6. jrhall888 - Nov 2, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    If and/or when there’s a season, it’ll all play out whether Brown is the right coach, the Lakers still have enough in the tank, and how Jim Buss will be judged. That said, I wouldn’t want Bynum as my centerpiece. Aside from his balky knees, he has the maturity of a 13 year old. That doesn’t sound like championship centerpiece to me.

  7. Jecurb - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    I’m not sure if I can buy the premise about Buss. I’m not a supporter of his but do know that with changes in management (in any organization) you sometimes have to also sweep out remnants of previous management. I can’t speak to Brown’s ability but do know that if he is to have a chance that he has to have a supporting staff that supports him.

    • sonofsambowie - Nov 2, 2011 at 1:52 PM

      How closely have you followed the Lakers? The Jim Buss thing has been building for years, ever since he basically stomped his feet and held his breath until his dad let him draft Bynum in 2005 and has held on to him for dear life over the years despite all of the trade scenarios that have involved Andrew over the years.

      Trust me, I don’t want to be right about the fact that little Jimmy is going to ruin the Lakers, but I’m afraid i will be.

  8. nicosanchez02 - Nov 2, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Nervous, nah! Phil really won the other 2 rings because our good ol savior and friend Mr. West sent as a steal in Pau for Kwame, Coach Brown will be all right, just need to get younger in the point guard position, maybe find another big somewhere that could defend in the paint. If there’s a season anyways! Go lakers!

  9. wordplaydiz - Nov 2, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Phil wasn’t named “The Zenmeister” for nothing. Shaw should have taken his advise seriously if he wanted the job. Less words spoken, and he could have been the one, stabilizing factor for the Lakers. Heck, he could have added to Phil’s legacy. Admirable though it seems, Shaw’s taking up for Phil was like Lot’s wife looking back when told not to do so. Now they’re both heaps of salt.

  10. sydneysachs - Nov 5, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    My real question is this: What the heck is Jerry Buss thinking, giving free rein to his prodigal son? I guess love is blind… but with all the very-public criticism of Jim Buss, not to mention the love, dollars and brilliance Jerry has invested in this team these many years, one would think he’d pull those reins in a bit heh heh. Or a whole heck of a lot!

  11. adubman - Dec 12, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Papa Buss has passed the team keys to Jimmy, but make no mistake, he’s keeping the reins drawn taught. There’s very little chance he’d sign off on Pau & Drew for Dwight – trade makes no sense leaving the front line flattened. Before the Lakers can rebuild upfront, it’s the backcourt that has greater needs. That Gaping Hole in the Lakers’ D is (opponent team’s #1) blasting by D. Fisher for an easy deuce. Besides needing a PG, they also need the PG’s back-up since S. Brown is still out there bidding his wares. Odom’s trade, if nothing else freed up mid-cap exception room for possible sign in the next week or so. Or, not; team may decide to stand pat racing into this abbreviated season.
    The Lakers are aged and attempting to go back to the well one last time with the core player(s) & that’s a heavy toll to put on this group. Without a ball handler bringing up the ball (say, D. Williams, D. Collison), they’re going to get picked and run on continuously. Real changes may have to wait until summer ’12 when free agents are fully unrestricted and can go their own way.

  12. realfootballfan - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    You’re undecided on Jim Buss? He’s obviously crazy and one of these idiots who can’t live up to his father’s legacy but will go through the rest of his life falling down trying. Poor Laker fans.

    The Lakers became the Clippers when Jerry Buss died and won’t be competitive again until Jeanie can gain control of the franchise, Jim dies, or some younger Buss comes up to take control (think 49er abyss until Jedd York came to prominence over his clueless mother and father). First the Knicks lost for a generation due to ownership incompetence, now the Lakers. Sad.

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